Jacob Wallace has his eyes focused on a major league diamond.
As the corecipient of the John Claffey New England Top Prospect Award last summer pitching for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League, he certainly showed the promise. For the now, though, the 20-year-old Methuen High graduate continues to hone his craft as a dominant closer with an electric fastball for the University of Connecticut.
In 16 appearances this spring for the Huskies (24-16), the 6-foot-1-inch junior righthander has compiled a 2-0 record with a 0.38 earned run average, striking out 35 with just four walks, in 24 innings. He has limited opposing hitters to a .138 average.
Wallace is climbing up draft boards in advance of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft, scheduled for June 3-5. Before the Huskies hosted Rhode Island in Storrs last week, Wallace took a few minutes for a chat with the Globe.
Q. What is your take on all the draft hype you have been receiving?
A. It’s crazy to think about, because coming in, I just was hoping to find the best college fit for me and hopefully to play the game at the next level, which played a factor when I picked UConn . . . The odds are always against you, but when it does happen it’s unbelievable. It’s everything you’ve ever worked for.
Q. What would it mean to play for the Red Sox, your hometown team?
A. That’s always been a childhood dream. That’d be the greatest thing ever without a doubt and of course, I’d be honored to play for any team but especially the Red Sox, growing up in Boston and having my family right there and my friends, the people I’ve grown up with being so close and having that fan base would be unbelievable.
Q. Top prospect in the Cape League? What does that mean to you?
A. Playing in the Cape League was a great experience, playing with the best guys in the country. There were guys from all over — Arkansas, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, all different conferences . . . Coming out of that season with a 0.00 ERA and winning that award was way more than I expected but a great honor to win that with Justin Lasko of UMass.
Q. What approach do you take to the mound as a closer?
A. You got to have a little bit of both — a little fire, and still stay calm. It’s a little more intimidating when a guy’s on the mound and he’s calm, showing it’s nothing out of the ordinary to be in a pressure situation. I think that just puts a little more fear in the batter, having that stillness and confidence. You have to trust you’ve done it before and it’s going to keep working. You have to come out with your best and beat them with your best. [UConn coach Jim Penders] says this all the time, if you win with your best and you lose with your best, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Q. Are there any professionals that you try to model your game after?
A. I’d say [former Red Sox closer] Craig Kimbrel, he’s a guy to look up to for sure. He’s an unbelievable player and competitor and he has some of the best stuff of any closer in the league. I try to emulate him by just attacking hitters and just constantly being dominant with that. With keeping that mindset of ‘attack, attack, attack’ you really can’t go wrong.
Thomas Herron can be reached at email@example.com.