Brett Wallace (picture from stltoday.mycapture.com) and his minors career in hopes of learning more about the player who may help bring the Jays to a new level, I wondered about who had the same kind of background. Big guy, plays 3B in the minors, but not expected to stick there because his D isn't up to par. Someone who hit for power and average and made jumps early at each level. The closest guy I could come up with was none other than Ryan Braun.
Ok, first and foremost, both are outstanding minor league player careers. They stand out across the board, and it's almost eery how similar their stats are at the same age. There's just 1 GIANT difference. Brett Wallace is always facing higher competition and coming out with the same results Ryan Braun did at that age. That, my friends, is extremely impressive. Here's a comparisson of what each player accomplished in the minors up to the age of 22, Wallace's current age.
Ryan Braun 21 - Rookie (41 AB) and LoA (152 AB), .352 average with a total of 68 hits, 18 doubles, 10 HRs, .393 OBP, .632 SLG, and 1.025 OPS, and 11 walks to 40 strike outs. Flg %.891
Brett Wallace 21 - HiA (153 AB) AA (49 AB), .337 average with a total of 68 hits, 13 doubles, 8 HRs, .427 OBP, .530 SLG, .957 OPS, and 19 walks to 39 strike outs. Flg% .952
Ryan Braun 22 - HiA (226 AB) and AA (231 AB), .289 average with a total of 132 hits, 31 doubles, 22 HRs, .357 OBP, .514 SLG, and 0.871 OPS, and 44 walks to 100 strike outs. Flg %.890
Brett Wallace 22 - AA (128 AB) AAA (304 AB), .293 average with a total of 156 hits, 26 doubles, 20 HRs, .367 OBP, .455 SLG, .822 OPS, and 47 walks to 116 strike outs. Flg%.954
In terms of size, Braun is listed at 6'2 and 200 lbs, while Wallace is listed at 6'1" 245 lbs. He's a hefty guy in comparison, but when you look at their fielding percentages, the last of the stats I listed each time above, Wallace is a much better defender than is let on. He's no gold glove winner, but he is adequate at 3B. Alex Anthopolous has indicated that they view him as a 1B, so that's most likely where he'll end up. The position, however, may be the only place these 2 differ (and in speed, obviously).
If Wallace can continue to "outpace" the progress that Braun made when he jumped to the majors and surprised everyone, the Jays are in for a good time. If they can get 30-40 HRs with a .300 and above average from Wallace, and add the performances they believe they can get from Hill, Lind, and Snider, they've got something cooking! When you add the fact that all of them put together will cost the Jays less than 10 million a year for the next 3-4 years, it's time to start thinking about who they'll need to "go get" to make the Jays a real stronghold in the AL East. In no way am I saying Wallace is the reincarnation of Braun, since those are some big shoes to fill. What I am saying is that he may even be better than Braun, a bold statement, but one I believe is supported by what he's done to this point. He's a gigantic bat for the Jays to grab, and that's something us Jays fans may live to enjoy for a long time to come.
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