2008 Cardinals AFL Interviews: Brett Wallace

The last of our nine exclusive Cardinals interviews from the Arizona Fall League is with Peoria Saguaros third baseman Brett Wallace. The 2008 first-round draft pick discusses his first professional season as well as his goals for the future.

Everyone in The Cardinal Nation knows the Brett Wallace story by now – at least the limited aspects that have played out to date. The St. Louis Cardinals considered themselves very fortunate that the left-handed batter, generally considered the most polished hitter available in the 2008 draft, was still on the board when they made the 13th overall selection.

The name of the now-22-year-old native of Sonoma, California was quickly called out on June 5th. After a short negotiation period, the Arizona State star officially became Cardinals property after coming to terms on a contract on July 1st.

Wallace became one of four members of his draft class to be assigned to a full-season club, the Quad Cities River Bandits. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder with the celebrated stocky lower body had no problem returning to the wooden bat.

Over 41 Midwest League contests, Wallace posted a healthy .327/.418/.490 (BA/OBP/SLG) line for the Bandits. As the season was half-way through its final month in August, it looked as if his initial campaign would end successfully with Quad Cities.

An injury to Double-A Springfield's third baseman, Allen Craig, changed everything. The Cardinals took a risk, jumping Wallace over A-Advanced Palm Beach and assigning him to the Texas League club, which was in the home stretch of a pitched playoff battle.

In his 13 games there to close out the season, Wallace actually performed more strongly with the bat than he did with Quad Cities, with an exceptional final Double-A line of .367/.456/.653.

A week after his Springfield arrival, the organization announced Wallace would be among their eight farmhands assigned to the Arizona Fall League. It was another stretch, as few players are asked to compete in the game's premier prospect showcase just a few short months after having been drafted.

Initially in Arizona, Wallace hit a run of what his manager in both Springfield and with the Peoria Saguaros called "buzzard's luck", meaning the powerful hitter was stroking shots right at opposing defenders.

It didn't take long for Wallace's luck to even out, as he began a tear that has him well-positioned with a .310/.368/.575 line through 22 games and 87 at-bats with the Saguaros.

What comes next for the third baseman named by us as The 2008 Cardinals Minor League Rookie Hitter of the Year remains to be seen. While the sky seems the limit, he may be asked to return to Springfield to begin the 2009 season.

At a well-stocked position in the Cardinals high minors, Craig could be moved across multiple corner infield and outfield positions and our selection as The 2008 Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year David Freese seems set to again man the hot corner with Triple-A Memphis unless he can make good on a long-shot bid to make the major league club coming out of spring training.

In this exclusive audio interview conducted at the AFL, Wallace discusses his whirlwind 2008, how criticism motivates him, the Cardinals logjam at third base, his goals for 2009 and more.

(7:17)



Previous interviews in this AFL series:
Manager Ron "Pop" Warner
RHSP Adam Ottavino
LHRP Brad Furnish
LHRP Justin Fiske
OF Shane Robinson
IF Tyler Greene
C Steven Hill
LHP Tyler Norrick



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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