Prospect Retro: Brad Wilkerson
Brad Wilkerson was drafted with a supplemental first-round pick, 33rd overall, by the Montreal Expos in 1998. He'd had a very successful career at the University of Florida, thriving as both an outfielder/DH and as a pitcher. He was considered a better prospect as a hitter for pro ball. For the Gaters, he showed solid power production, very high walk rates, but an erratic batting average.
Wilkerson signed late and didn't make his pro debut until 1999. It was a disappointment: he hit just .235/.370/.355 at Double-A Harrisburg. The good news was that he showed good command of the strike zone, drawing 88 walks. But his power was disappointing, and his batting average was much too low. I gave him a Grade C in the '00 book, though with the note that I expected him to improve. Scouts said that in some ways he was too patient, too passive, at the plate.
Wilkerson returned to Harrisburg in '00, hitting .336/.443/.590 in 66 games, including an incredible 36 doubles. Promoted to Triple-A Ottawa at that point, he hit .250/.386/.481 with 12 homers in 63 games. I gave him a Grade B in the '01 book, writing that he probably needed more Triple-A time, but that he should develop into a solid player and possibly a minor star.
Wilkerson split '01 between Triple-A and the Majors, hitting well at Ottawa (.270/.425/.468) but poorly with the Expos (.205/.304/.325 in 47 games). He turned things up a notch in '02, with 20 homers, and has been a solid source of power and on-base percentage ever since. His minor league career was marked by high walk rates, large numbers of doubles, but up-and-down batting averages. He's been more consistent in the Majors than he was in the minors, but the overall shape of his game is not out of context with what he did at the lower levels.
Comparable Players to Brad Wilkerson, no actives listed.
Those guys all had moments of good effectiveness but did not age well. My guess is that Wilkerson will follow a similar pattern, being effective for the next four or five years but fading quickly after the age of 30. What do you guys think?