Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 15…of 286. Stay tuned.
Chad Arthur Wallach is a 6’3″, 230 lb. catcher and first baseman from Orange, CA. The city of Orange has produced two dozen major leaguers, including Freddie Freeman, Mike Sweeney, and Mark Trumbo. Also, as if you didn’t already know, Wallach has a major league pedigree thanks to father (and Marlins bench coach) Tim Wallach.
Wallach was born on November 4th, 1991, and eventually got drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 43rd round of the 2010 draft. Instead of signing, Wallach spent the next three seasons playing Division I NCAA baseball for Cal State-Fullerton, slashing .272/.360/.374 over 102 contests. In 2013, the Miami Marlins chose him in the fifth round, with the 142nd overall selection. Wallach is one of 12 players to make the majors after joining the “142 club,” along with Rhys Hoskins (2014, Philadelphia Phillies, 2.5 career WAR), Scott Sizemore (2006, Detroit Tigers, 0.8 WAR), and Chris Gardner (1988, Houston Astros, 0.1 WAR). You can follow Chad on Twitter @ChadWallach29.
After signing with the Marlins for a $343,900 bonus, Wallach reported to the Batavia Muckdogs, in the short-season-A New York-Penn League. He joined the club as their starting catcher, and slashed .226/.294/.267 in 43 contests. He drew 11 walks and whiffed 27 times, while driving in 13 runs. Defensively, Wallach threw out 23-of-58 trying to steal, a 39.7 percent CS rate.
Prior to the 2014 season, Wallach was assigned to the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the single-A South Atlantic League. He improved his approach at the plate, to the tune of a .321/.430/.476 slashline, with seven homers and 49 RBI. He drew 50 walks while striking out just 39 times. Wallach also continued to impress from behind the plate in 73 games before a promotion, throwing out 31 percent of basestealers. Later in the season, with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, he hit .328/.436/.375 in 19 contests.
After the 2014 season, the Miami Marlins traded Wallach with RHP Anthony DeSclafani to the Cincinnati Reds for RHP Mat Latos. For three seasons, Wallach worked his way through the Reds’ system, finally making his major league debut with Cincinnati in late-August 2017. After going one-for-11 in six games, the Reds waived Wallach on November 3rd. The Marlins immediately reacquired him.
Wallach started out the 2018 campaign on the Miami Marlins roster as the backup catcher to Tomas Telis and Bryan Holaday, despite his three-for-32 performance in Spring Training. Through his first nine appearances, he racked up four hits in 34 plate appearances, with 17 strikeouts for a .129/.182/.161 slashline.
More importantly for a backup catcher, he threw out half of the six guys who tried to steal a base with him at backstop, and turned in a .988 fielding percentage, with one error in 77 chances. Wallach was sent down to the triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes on April 17th when J.T. Realmuto was activated off the disabled list. He was called up again on July 9th to fill Realmuto’s roster spot due to paternity leave, but didn’t see any action over his three-day stay.
Wallach did see substantial action with the Baby Cakes through the season, getting into 44 games. He put together a .224/.317/.333 slashline, with three home runs, 16 RBI, 20 walks and 47 whiffs in 190 plate appearances. He was called back to the Marlins on September 1st.
Wallach remained with the Marlins through the close of the season. Again no great shakes at the plate, he did have one three hit game on September 23rd, in a 6-0 win over the Reds. With two singles and a three-run homer (the first of his career), Wallach raised his 2018 batting average 63 points.
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Wallach is a solid backup catcher, mainly for his unquestionably sound defensive prowess. In addition to his rifle of a right arm, he’s also blessed with quick feet, is great pitch framer, an excellent pitch caller, and knows how to position himself when there’s a play at the plate.
The Baby Cakes turned in a 69-70 record, while the parent club finished with a major-league 27th best 63-98 record. Incidentally, the well-publicized attendance troubles for the Marlins carried over to the Baby Cakes, who finished 16th in the 16-team PCL with 252,614 through the gates.
Wallach made strides this year, and proved that he can be an effective backup at the major league level. He should be in the mix to back up Realmuto in 2019.
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