Iowa baseball: Toronto Blue Jays select Trenton Wallace in 11th round of 2021 MLB Draft
When given an opportunity to pounce on Friday night stardom, Trenton Wallace wasn't going to waste this chance. The Iowa southpaw had his shot to star atop the Hawkeyes' weekend rotation, and he did so in dominant fashion.
Now, Wallace is cashing in.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Wallace Tuesday in the 11th round of the 2021 MLB Draft (No. 332 overall), making him the latest Iowa ace to transform a year of brilliance into a solid professional landing spot. The Davenport Assumption product joins former Hawkeyes Nick Gallagher, Nick Allgeyer and Cole McDonald as recent weekend anchors who've done well on draft day.
It's hard to pinpoint how many MLB radars Wallace was on to start 2021. But once Jack Dreyer suffered another season-ending injury and Wallace entered as Rick Heller's cemented ace, a professional future became crystal clear. All the 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt junior did was transform into Iowa's first-ever Big Ten pitcher of the year.
Although Wallace's arsenal isn't as overpowering as other college arms drafted, his consistency and reliability in 2021 were as strong as anyone's. Wallace went 7-1 with a 2.34 ERA and 106 strikeouts over 73 innings, propelling the Hawkeyes to nine straight Friday victories to end the season.
"There's nothing better," Wallace said earlier this season, "than taking a Friday night game at Duane Banks."
Not long ago, it seemed such an opportunity would never materialize.
After a promising freshman year in 2018 as one of Iowa's main midweek arms, Wallace needed Tommy John surgery at season's end. The recovery process lingered into 2019, where Wallace made just three starts with a 6.41 ERA over 26 2/3 innings. COVID derailed 2020 and left Wallace in pitching limbo, all while still juggling outfield duties.
Any concerns have faded now. Wallace has his place in Iowa baseball history.
"Trenton works as hard as anybody on our team and has come as far as anybody on our team," Heller said earlier this season. "Fighting through surgery in his younger years with the elbow. He's just so fit right now. He maintains his (velocity) until the last pitch of the game.
"... He can throw all his pitches for strikes. He's really cleaned up the efficiency on his fastball and breaking ball. And his change-up has really developed into a plus pitch. So just all those things, plus the fact he's a tremendous competitor, that's why he's having success."
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.