Due to his bulky lower frame, Wallace has many detractors, but that did not deter the Cardinals from believing they have a player who could someday solidify the left side of their infield.
"To use the cliche, there was a guy named Ruth who didn't look good in his uniform, either," said Cardinals supervisor of amateur scouting Chuck Fick.
Wallace is the sixth position player St. Louis has selected in the first round since 2003. He was one of seven players the Cardinals selected Thursday.
Currently enjoying a monster year with Arizona State, Wallace is hitting .414 with 21 home runs and 81 RBIs. A two-time Triple Crown winner in the Pac-10, Wallace has shown great ability to get on base, boasting a .531 on-base percentage and a 1.293 OPS.
After considering signing out of high school three years ago, Wallace said his decision to go to college helped him learn more about the game, and he was ecstatic the Cardinals selected him.
"You work your whole life and you hope a team sees something in you that they like," Wallace said. "When an organization as great as the Cardinals sees something in you in the first round, that's an honor."
A junior third baseman with the Sun Devils, Wallace bats from the left side of the plate and throws right-handed. He is considered as good a breaking-ball hitter as he is a fastball hitter and has excellent power to the opposite field.
With a year left of eligibility, it is possible for Wallace to return for a final season in Tempe, Ariz. But both the Cardinals and Wallace believe a deal can be reached quickly.
"I think it's still locked in that I'm coming to St. Louis," Wallace said. "I want to get my pro career going, and I can't think of a better team to start it with. I don't see myself going back to school."
The Cardinals drafted Wallace as a third baseman, but he has the ability to play left field or first base.
Considered one of the top hitters in the Draft, the Cardinals could not pass up Wallace's offensive prowess. At Arizona State, Wallace has played third base, left field and first base. In 2008, he switched to the hot corner and struggled before settling down. Cardinals vice president of amateur scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow said the organization is not concerned with his defensive skills.
Cards' top five selections
|13.||3B||Brett Wallace||Arizona St U|
|39.||RHP||Michael Lynn||U Mississippi|
|59.||OF||Shane Peterson||Cal St Long Beach|
|91.||SS||Ernest Vasquez||Durango HS (Nev.)|
|125.||RHP||Scott Gorgen||UC Irvine|
|Complete Cardinals Draft results >|
Instead, members of the front office point out to Wallace's light feet and his success on the basepaths. This year, he is 16-for-20 in stealing bases.
"There's a pretty good athlete in Brett Wallace," Luhnow said. "If you judge him by what he looks like, I think you're missing the value in this player."
Prior to the start of the Draft, the Cardinals selected "Prince" Joe Henry during the Negro Leagues Draft. Henry played with the Memphis Red Sox and the Indianapolis/Detroit Clowns between 1950-59. Known as a good basestealer and a showman, Henry hit .284 with Memphis in 1950.
Here is a look at the Cardinals' other Day 1 selections in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Round Comp A: Michael Lynn, RHP, University of Mississippi
The Cardinals selected Lynn out of Mississippi, passing up highly touted high schooler Tim Melville. St. Louis took Lynn because of his repertoire and impressive command. At the end of the compensatory round, Melville was still available.
But Lynn gives the Cardinals four pitches and struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings. The organization believes Lynn provides more value as a starter, rather than as a reliever, because of his durability.
"He's an imposing presence on the mound," Luhnow said. "He's a guy that will eat innings in pro ball and should be a guy that will last a long time."
Round 2: Shane Peterson, OF, Cal State Long Beach
Peterson, a junior, was co-Big West Player of the Year. He batted .390 with a .506 on-base percentage. He has an awkward swing and there are some concerns if he can hit at the Major League level, but he's a solid defender with a strong arm.
Round 3: Ernest Vasquez, SS, Durango (Nev.) High School
Vasquez went to the Cardinals with the 91st overall pick. A high school shortstop, some project Vazquez to someday hit .270 with 20-25 home runs in the Majors.
Round 4: Scott Gorgen, RHP, UC Irvine
The Cardinals went back to pitching and selected Gorgen 125th overall. Gorgen is 11-3 on the year with a 2.31 ERA and has held opponents to a .175 batting average.
Round 5: Jermain Curtis, 3B, UCLA
After an All-Star campaign in the Cape Cod League last summer, there were some high expectations for Curtis. He hasn't lived up to them, struggling to hit the ball with the same authority he has in the past. He doesn't have the arm to stay at third and would profile better at second at the next level.
Round 6: Eric Fornataro, RHP, Miami Dade CC South
The Cardinals concluded Day 1 by selecting Fornataro, a right-handed pitcher. In 78 innings pitched, Fornataro fanned 77 batters and registered an ERA of 2.87.
Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.