Today the Cardinals picked outfielder Austin Wilson from Seattle’s Class AA roster, and he will be with the team from here in the minors. He does not need to spend the year on the Class AAA roster for the Cardinals to maintain control of him. Wilson was the Cardinals’ 12th round pick in 2010, and the club brought him to St. Louis for a recruiting trip. He came with his parents, and his father, a Cardinals fan growing up, spent time with Tony La Russa.
The Stanford product’s third professional season was a bit of a disappointment after coming off a promising 2014. In 109 games for Bakersfield, Wilson hit .239/.342/.374 with a 26% strikeout rate. While not terrible, these are not the numbers we expected from a player touted as one of the more advanced bats coming out of college, especially in the Cal League. However, there is reason to be optimistic, as his slash line improved to a very impressive 290/.393/.452 in the second half.
Regardless of how he produces on the field, there is no doubt that his tools are immense, especially in terms of raw power. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Wilson is able to get a lot of oomph behind his swing, and the ball explodes off his bat when he makes good contact. The problem is getting that good contact. Not only will he swing-and-miss often, when he does make contact it’s rarely barreled up. Finding a way to shorten his swing path to make it more consistent and choosing better pitches to go after will have a huge impact on his game offensively.
Defensively, Wilson has all the tools to be great. Decent speed and a cannon for an arm make him a lock for right field. But like on offense, being consistent with getting good jumps and taking correct routes is necessary for him to go from being a guy with potential to a guy who produces.
2016 is likely a make or break season for Austin Wilson as a prospect. He’s getting older and sooner or later he will have to show us that the potential he has can come to fruition. He still has the chance to be a very good player, but if he doesn’t start producing soon it will be time to move on.
Source: MLB/Seatown Mariner