Austin Wilson Scouting Report (2014)
Austin Wilson is a physical specimen with enough tools to make evaluators swoon. At 6-foot-4, 249 pounds the outfielder has long limbs and abounding natural strength. It’s easy to dream on the Seattle Mariners outfield prospect as a future middle-of-the-lineup power source. And while he has a chance to blossom into a productive offensive player, he’s less advanced than other high-profile college hitters. He’s flashed his talents for the Low-A Clinton Lumberkings, but hasn’t found consistency.
A Los Angeles native whose parents are both Harvard MBAs, Austin Wilson is a smart and positive presence on the field with the diligent attitude. He required an above-slot $1,700,000 bonus to sign with the Mariners, who selected the former Stanford star No. 49 overall in the 2013 draft. Having seen the 22-year-old Wilson five times this year in Midwest League, he’s not a true five tool prospect. His best tools are his raw power, throwing arm and glove. The hit tool and speed lag behind.
Heretofore, his power numbers have not supported the ceiling of a power-hitting right fielder. In college, Wilson hit 20 career home runs in his three-year Stanford career. After being drafted, the outfielder his six more in 226 plate appearances. Through 46 games in 2014, Wilson is slashing .274/.355/.439 and struggling to tap into his raw power. In game action, hard hit balls have been to the pull side. A gap hitter with a slight loft in his swing, average bat speed has caused the right-handed hitter to struggle with inside heat.
In the opening series of the year at Cedar Rapids, he used a wide, crouched stance with feet slightly closed. Wilson’s hands started quite low and marginal fastball velocity caused issues. The outfielder fouled back consecutive Randy Rosario fastballs at 88 and 89 mph, indicating he was a hair behind the pitches. Later in the game, Dominican righthander Felix Jorge beat him swinging at a first-pitch, 88 mph inside fastball. Four pitches later, Wilson struck out on virtually the same inside pitch (89 mph). In the second game of the day’s doubleheader, Wilson had trouble with Ryan Eades‘ 89-91 velocity. The pattern of performance against marginal fastballs is a concern.
Three weeks later, his stance opened up and his hands started higher. The adjustments didn’t seem to help in his rematch with Jorge, against whom he was 0-for-3 including a swinging strike on an average 91-mph heater. The second rounder managed a 2-for-4 showing the next day against Cedar Rapids’ 6-foot-10 right-hander Aaron Slegers, who sat 90-92 mph with good plane most of the day. Two weeks later, he held his own against Peoria Chiefs lefthander Rob Kaminsky. After working a 1st-inning walk, Wilson fell victim to a sinking 93-mph fastball from the St. Louis Cardinals prospect in the 3rd. Later, Wilson took a 92-mph offering the other way in the 5th to send the Kaminsky to the showers.
While Wilson’s work against fastballs is a developmental hurdle, he appears to see breaking balls better. He ripped a Rosario 78-mph slider hard foul and drove another at 76-mph for a loud, line-drive out to center field. The outfielder also held his own against Kaminsky’s advanced curveball, fouling off a nasty 2-planer and laying off several others outside the strike zone.
Defensively, Wilson profiles as an asset in right field. He has an easy, powerful throwing arm. Though not a speedster, he takes good routes to balls and has enough speed underway to make the plays. In the first game against Cedar Rapids, he tracked a tailing foul ball from Engelb Vielma, leaped into the wall down the 1st base line and recorded the out.
TOOL PRESENT FUTURE PROJECTED ROLE LEAGUE-AVERAGE RF Hitting Ability 30 40 Power 40 50 Speed 45 45 Fielding Ability 50 55 Arm 65 65
Owning Austin Wilson
Wilson looks more defensive end than baseball player. The adjustments over this five-week stretch are encouraging and the upside is impossible to ignore. But Wilson will need to prove he can consistently handle good fastballs, particularly on the inner half of the plate. Even though he’s already 22, Austin Wilson will not be a fast mover. In standard leagues, he’s a guy to watch as a boom or bust prospect. In deep dynasty leagues, he’s worth a roster spot. In Reality Fantasy Baseball, he was drafted No. 48 overall and signed for $1,376,250 (both closely approximating his actual slot and bonus).
30 May 2014 / Bob Usselman /
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