More from Cincinnati Reds
- Johnny Cueto Trade: Reds Winners?
- Reds Recap: Win to Start the 2nd Half
- Does MLB Enslave Pete Rose?
- ICYMI: MLB All Star Weekend
- Reds Recap: Brewers’ Fireworks
Name: Chad Wallach
Acquired: Traded from Miami Marlins in December 2014, along with Anthony DeSclafani for Mat Latos
Highest Level: High-A Jupiter
2014 Statistics: 7 HR, 57 RBI, .322 BA, .431 OBP, .457 SLG
Chad Wallach was originally selected in the 43rd round of the 2010 amateur draft but decided to attend California State Fullerton instead. After a solid college career in which he shifted from the infield to catcher for his junior seasons, Wallach was drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Marlins in 2013.
Two seasons in the Marlins’ organization have shown Wallach to be an on-base threat with tremendous plate discipline, walking exactly as many times as he has struck out. In 2014, though, he honed his batting eye and walked 62 times against only 46 strikeouts. He has thus far shown limited power, but he has the body size (6’3″, 210) to develop at least double-digit homer potential, and he did manage to smack seven bombs last season. Despite that relatively paltry dinger total, Wallach slugged .457 in 2014 thanks to 22 doubles in 408 plate appearances.
With only two short seasons under his belt as a full-time catcher, it’s not surprising that his work behind the plate is the biggest weakness in Wallach’s game at this point. He is still learning the finer points of calling a game and is still prone to errors, committing five fielding gaffes in 2014. Opposing runners are a particular problem, as Wallach allowed 81 stolen bases while throwing out just 26 last season.
You have to expect that, if the Reds leave him behind the plate, Wallach is young enough to improve both those catching numbers and his power output. He is in Reds camp this spring, likely so team brass can get a better look at the unknown quantity in the Mat Latos trade. Given his track record and age, it seems likely that Wallach will begin the season back in High-A ball or, if he has a huge Spring, maybe Double-A Pensacola.
With Devin Mesoraco seemingly entrenched behind the plate for the Reds, Wallach seems to have three paths to the Big Leagues: position change, team change, or backup role.
It’s too early to tell which, if any of these, will pan out, but Wallach might eventually make an interesting alternative to the good-field, no-stick Tucker Barnhart as a backup backstop.
Riverfront ETA: Too early to tell.