Now that the Lance Berkman trade is officially official, the Astros are already turning the page, purchasing the contract of Brett Wallace from Triple-A Round Rock. The 23-year-old will make his major league debut against the Brewers tonight, batting sixth and playing first base.
Wallace was acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose on Thursday. He has now been traded three times since being selected in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by the Cardinals. Wallace has a .304/.375/.487 batting line over parts of three seasons in the minor leagues and was batting .301/.359/.509 with 18 homers and 61 RBI with Triple-A Las Vegas this season in the hitter-friendly PCL league.
Drafted as a third baseman, Wallace began to make the transition to first base last year. While he’s still a very good power prospect, he has yet to make much progress with his plate discipline, posting a 116/47 K/BB ratio in 532 at-bats in 2009 and an 83/27 K/BB ratio over 385 at-bats this season.
It will be tough to shake the inevitable comparisons of the man he is about to replace, but Wallace is no Berkman. He should still prove to be a pretty solid major league regular, though.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.