Dec. 30, 2008
TEMPE, Ariz. - As we count down the final days of 2008, TheSunDevils.com and Arizona State Baseball countdown the Top 12 Sun Devil Baseball moments of 2008.
#4- Brett Wallace Caps Off Amazing Sun Devil Career
Over the past 50 years, Arizona State has seen its share of outstanding baseball players wear the maroon and gold. But very few can match the career that Brett Wallace had over his three seasons in Tempe. Wallace came to Arizona State in 2006 as a member of a highly regarded recruiting class and left in 2008 as the crown jewel.
Coming to Tempe from Sonoma, California, Wallace was a 42nd round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays after finishing his high school career at Justin-Siena. He opted to attend Arizona State, and quickly became a key member of the program. He appeared in 48 games in 2006, starting 38, and led the Sun Devils with a .371 average. He flashed some power, homering seven times, but that was only a preview of things to come.
His sophomore season of 2007 was better than anyone could have imagined, as he won the Pac-10 Triple Crown with a .404 average, 16 homers and 78 RBI. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year and a First Team All-American, helping lead Arizona State to a Pac-10 Title and a trip to Omaha for the College World Series. He became the 17th Sun Devil to hit over .400 in a season and the 25th to collect 100 hits (107 to be exact).
After his sophomore year, the question on many people's minds was what could he do for an encore. Wallace answered that emphatically in 2008, improving in every offensive category on his way to becoming the only player in Pac-10 history to win back-to-back Triple Crowns and leading the Sun Devils to a second straight Pac-10 championship. He hit .410 with 22 homers and 83 RBI, drew a career high 48 walks and stole 16 bases. He joined Kevin Romine as the only Sun Devils to ever hit over .400 in back-to-back seasons and he finished his ASU career with a .398 career batting average, second highest in school history. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year and a First Team All-American for the second consecutive year, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He finished with a .687 career slugging percentage, third best in ASU history, and his 45 career home runs tied him with Barry Bonds for fourth most in school history.
Wallace was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 13th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, an improvement of 41 rounds and 1,240 picks from his high school draft.
The adjustment to pro baseball was an easy one for Wallace, as he picked up right where he left off with the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits. Wallace played 41 games for the Bandits, hitting .327 with five homers and 25 RBI before being promoted to the Class AA Springfield Cardinals. He hit .367 for the Cardinals, giving him a .337 average with eight homers and 36 RBI in his first professional season. He played 54 games in the minors after joining the Cardinals organization following the conclusion of ASU's season. Wallace wasn't finished with baseball in 2008 yet, as he was selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League for the Peoria Saguaros. He hit .309 for Peoria, homering six times and driving in 24 runs in 24 games. He was also selected to play in the Rising Stars Showcase Game, the AFL All-Star game.
All told, 2008 was a remarkable year for Brett Wallace and he will go down in history as one of the best players to ever wear a Sun Devil uniform. He is the only player in school history to ever lead the team in hitting three straights seasons, and he did it all while playing multiple positions on the field. He was the consummate teammate and was a team leader both on and off the field, helping Arizona State to 135 wins, two conference titles, three postseason appearances, two Super Regionals in Tempe and a College World Series berth in his three seasons.