In the player photo on MiLB’s official website, Chad Wallach’s hair is on the long side, making him look a little surfer-esque.
He’s got a shorter cut now, making him look somewhat older, giving him a certain air of maturity. Which kind of fits with what’s he’s experienced this season.
Wallach, a fifth round pick in 2013 by the Miami Marlins out of Cal State Fullerton, has 86 hits, 29 RBI, and 35 walks, through 98 games with the Daytona Tortugas, of High-A Florida State League.
When asked what he’s learned this year amid the ups and downs, he’s direct, sounding like a guy that’s gained valuable wisdom from the tough times.
“Probably actually dealing with struggles,” he said earlier this week. “I haven’t had the best year, not by my standards, and compared to last year. That’s where I’ve grown the most this year, because I’ve had to.”
Like most players advancing a level, they face an adjustment period. Often, they’re figuring it out through the season. This marks Wallach’s third year of professional baseball, after beginning his career in High-A New York Penn League, where he went .321/.430/.476. The son of former major leaguer Tim was ranked 19th overall in the Marlins system when he was traded to Cincinnati. He followed that debut season playing at two levels, including 19 in Florida State League, hitting .322/.431/.457 combined. Wallach, 23, entered 2015 ranked 27th in the Reds system by MLB.com.
“Consistent at-bats haven’t always been there. I’m trying to get the pitches I want to hit and not swing at pitches in the dirt or up high,” he said. “The first year I was flailing at the plate. I’ve gotten better at that. [Then there’s] being able to deal the full season. Coming out of college, there’s only sixty or seventy games. Being able to get through the daily grind. I’ve learned how to prepare myself better for that kind of stuff.”
The Reds clearly see the Yorba Linda, California native’s versatility as a strength, playing him at first and behind the plate this year. He previously played first and third, not transitioning to a catcher until his sophomore year of college.
“It’s definitely defense first. Being a big catcher, I’ve got to work on my defense. They’ve mixed in first this year. I’ve tried to get better at both, depending on where the Reds want to play me.”
When pressed as to where he prefers playing, he says, “I really love catching. That’s probably where my favorite place to be is. First is good, it’s easier on the body. But catching is more my preference. “
Ultimately, Wallach takes the attitude that this is all for the best.
“I think the more positions you can play, the better your opportunity."
A decidedly mature attitude for the road ahead.