27. Jacob Wallace (129 points, 14 ballots)
Immediately when the Rockies took Jacob Wallace in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft, he was acclaimed as one of the first players from the draft class who could make it to the Show. The 21-year-old righty reliever had dominated with a three-pitch mix at UConn and represented a potent mix of polish and stuff. After signing for slot value ($581.6K), Wallace was assigned to Short Season A Boise, where in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League he was a little over a year younger than league average.
Wallace made 22 appearances with Boise, serving as their closer. He got 12 saves and threw 21 innings, allowing runs in only 2 of his 22 games. In all, Wallace posted a 1.29 ERA with a 12.4 K/9 rate and 3.9 BB/9 rate to go along with a sterling 0.86 WHIP. Though the walks were a touch high, the 6’1”, 190 reliever was nigh un-hittable at the level, exactly the type of results you’d hope to see from a prospect of that mold.
Here’s a bit of video on Wallace courtesy of Prospects Live from his time at UConn:
Baseball Prospectus ranks Wallace 13th in the system; here’s Jeffrey Paternostro on him:
Wallace puts every bit of his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame into every pitch. He can ramp it up mid-90s and higher with the fastball, but the uptempo delivery, and long, bordering on violent arm action, means his fastball command will struggle to bump average. He offers a power slider that flashes good depth as well, so yeah, we are already in the 95-and-a-slider part of this list. Wallace should move fast as a pen arm, and could help the MLB bullpen as soon as this year ... Assuming he stays healthy though, he could be an eighth inning arm in short order.
FanGraphs gave Wallace a 40 FV tag, ranking him 21st in the org:
Wallace has a starter’s mix — mid-90s heat with tail, a changeup with mirroring movement, a sweeping slider — but his arm action is long and low, so he likely projects in relief. There’s clear industry appetite for varied mechanical looks, and Wallace provides one.
Wallace is the prototypical power short reliever and his stuff should continue to play at the pro level. He’ll throw both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, the former thrown 92-94 mph with good sink and the latter sitting 95-98 mph consistently. He does have a tendency to rush to the plate, which forces him to get on the side of his slider. Once he learns to stay back consistently and stay on top of the hard breaking ball, it should be a plus out pitch for him.
The right-hander did struggle with finding the strike zone in the past, but has lowered his walk rate each year and went right after hitters in his junior season and summer pro debut. College closers don’t always have the opportunity to rack up saves once they enter the pro game, but Wallace has the chance to pitch late in games in a big league bullpen in the future.
Though I’m not generally a fan of drafting college relievers in the first few rounds, at least the Rockies seem to have found the right one in Wallace. It’s not crazy to think that by the end of 2021 Wallace could join fellow UConn alum Scott Oberg in the Rockies bullpen. I look for Wallace to start the year in High A Lancaster, with an outside chance of him getting bumped up to AA (or even AAA) by year’s end.
I tend to discount relievers on a prospect list given their limited inning totals and the ability of starter prospects to fall back in that role, but Wallace seems so likely to be a big leaguer that I ranked him 21st on my list with a FV 40 grade.