So, who is Wilson?
Wilson was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of high school in North Carolina. The righty was selected after draft mates Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller, but arguably had the biggest breakout last season in Rome. He certainly made the Anderson, Wentz, Wilson Big 3 the most exciting to watch in the league. He finished second with a 2.50 ERA.
The 20-year-old is listed at 6’1”, 225 and it’s a fair assessment. He gets by on stuff as much as he does moxie, with the cliched pitchability through the roof. This season he jumped three levels, and looked like an overall improved pitcher which speaks volumes.
Wilson came in at No. 12 on the Braves midseason top 20. Here’s why:
Numbers to like: 0.66 ERA in July, 34:4 K:BB over those four starts (27.1 IP), career-high 10.13 K-per-nine in AA
Numbers of concern: A misleading 4.13 ERA in AA (2.88 FIP)
Wilson was the Braves breakout star of 2017. Selected in the fourth round of a draft that saw Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller go ahead of him, Wilson was arguably the best of the bunch.
The 20-year-old righty (listed at 6’1”, 225) picked up right where he left off last season. It wasn’t fair to Florida State League pitchers as he allowed one earned run while striking out 26 and walking seven in his 26.2 innings before a promotion to Mississippi. He struggled to start his Double-A tenure, but has been the Wilson of old since thanks to a new grip on his already electric fastball, per Doc Herbert.
Wilson features a mid-90s fastball, an above-average slider and a change that I particularly like a lot. His ability to adjust and seem unfazed on the mound shows he has the baseball mind to continue to be successful on his rise to the top.
Wilson’s fastball has been reported as high as 97 this season, so not only is he learning to pitch, he’s adding some power behind his fire. The slider was always going to be a one-two combo, but the change has really developed more than he could have hoped. This all points to his work ethic and understanding of the strike zone.
It’s a bit of a surprise that Wilson, just 20 years old, is already in the big leagues. This is a guy that started the season in the Florida State League. That’s not a bash on his talent, it’s just a very rapid rise.
He’s coming off one of his best starts of the season, going eight innings on one-hit ball, striking out 13 and walking none. He did get beat up a little bit in his first two starts in the International League, so it may be best to temper expectations.
Wilson is a pitcher of high baseball IQ, his strength seemingly coming in his ability to make adjustments and continually improve. The stuff is there, with two plus pitches and the change getting better. He’s increased his strikeout rate against more advanced hitting this season while still showing excellent command of the strike zone and limiting walks.
All eyes will be on the third 20-year-old pitcher to make a start for the Braves this season. If he has even a just a decent debut, the entire National League East may be on alert for 2019.