Matt Holliday. Roy Halladay. Roy Oswalt. Those are just three of the best players in baseball to be traded over the past year, two of which came at the deadline. Strangely enough, there has been one uniting issue about all three players: one minor leaguer has been involved in all three of their deals. Brett Wallace.
Wallace was good enough to be the centerpiece in a deal for an All-Star slugger and MVP candidate. Average enough to be swapped for another minor league hitter. Promising enough to be desired for a Cy Young candidate. So steady that a career .263 hitter was more attractive. How is it possible that a player can be so wanted and unwanted at the same time? Before we answer that question, we must first find out more about the man.
Wallace is a first baseman prospect currently in the Astros organization. He came from Arizona State where he hit 45 home runs in three years, earning him the 13th overall selection in the 2008 draft by the Cardinals. In brief minor league action after being drafted, Wallace hit .337 with eight home runs and an OPS of .957. His first year in pro baseball a success, St. Louis started Wallace off in Double-A the next year and he was promoted to Triple-A after 32 games. Wallace seemed to be a promising star in the Cardinals organization until the trade deadline arose and St. Louis decided to part with Wallace in the four-player trade with Oakland for Matt Holliday. Holliday caught fire with St. Louis making Wallace a small price to pay for a huge boost in the big club’s offense. But things did not end there for Brett. Not even close.
When the Phillies finally decided they would pull the trigger on Roy Halladay in the off-season, Wallace was there. The Phils traded former first-round picks Kyle Drabek and Travis d’Arnaud to the Blue Jays, along with minor league outfielder Michael Taylor in exchange for Halladay. Immediately, the Blue Jays sent Taylor to Oakland in return for you guessed it, Brett Wallace.
Wallace put together a solid season at Triple-A Las Vegas for the Jays organization, posting an .868 OPS with 18 home runs in 95 games. It was a good enough line for the Astros to want him included in the Roy Oswalt deal, but not good enough for the Blue Jays to worry about giving him away. So on July 29th, for the second year in a row, Wallace was moved at the trade deadline, sent to Houston to complete the Oswalt trade.
Much like the Halladay deal, Wallace was immediately traded for a prospect received in another deal. Houston received J.A. Happ, Jonathan Villar, and Anthony Gose for Oswalt, and they traded the speedy Gose to Toronto for Wallace. Brett will remain in the Pacific Coast League but he is now a member of the Round Rock Express.
Good enough to be included in a trade for All-Stars, average enough to be swapped for fellow minor leaguers. Such is the story in the curious case of Brett Wallace.
UPDATE: Wallace made his MLB debut on Saturday night batting 6th for Houston going 0-for-4.
Brett Wallace Stats [MILB]