The St. Louis Cardinals added one player in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft – outfielder Austin Wilson, a former draft target of the Cardinals as a high schooler in 2010 and a later second-round selection by Seattle in 2013.
An impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Wilson has been a power prospect that some have drooled over long before St. Louis unsuccessfully wooed him as a teenager. The reality has been quite a bit less. Other than a strong showing in the Midwest League in 2014, Wilson has been a bust.
Some have suggested Stanford University coaches ruined his swing, but if so, why did he rediscover it in 2014, only to lose his mojo again over the next two years? Still, maybe the Cardinals coaches can straighten out what their Mariners counterparts apparently could not.
Until then, I want to keep expectations in check.
The last two years, in his age 23 and 24 seasons, Wilson competed at high-A, with his annual stats slightly declining from 2015 to 2016. His repeating the level reminded me of a Cardinals slugger who did the same thing at the exact same age, though a year ahead.
One difference is that the Cards’ Florida State League team plays in an extreme pitchers’ park (92 in 2014), while Bakersfield, Wilson’s home the last two years, is slightly more favorable to hitters than pitchers (103 park factor).
Even so, comparing Wilson’s stats to those of Luke Voit really isn’t much of a comparison at all.
|Hitter||Lvl||Years||Age||PA||2B||HR||RBI||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||BB %||K %|
Over this two-year time period – at the same ages and levels of play – Voit has the advantage almost entirely across the board – despite playing in a more difficult home hitting environment at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.
That includes roughly 40 more points in batting average, 10 points in on-base and almost 50 more points of slugging, which of course adds up to a 60-point edge in OPS. Voit also plated substantially more runners.
Another key indicator is the fact that Wilson’s strikeout rate is over 57 percent higher than Voit’s – and the Cardinals’ first baseman had a slightly higher walk rate, to boot!
Looking ahead to Wilson’s likely 2017 assignment at Double-A Springfield for his age 25 season, here is what he will have to accomplish to match Voit’s results in the Texas League in 2016.
|Hitter||Lvl||Year||Age||PA||2B||HR||RBI||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||BB %||K %|
Those results, by the way, helped place Voit as The Cardinal Nation’s 46th-ranked prospect for 2017, hardly an indication of a sure-fire MLB prospect.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not down on Wilson at all. I am just being realistic here.
Wilson was once one of the hottest prospects in the game. He has a great pedigree. But at this point, he is little more than a very low-cost lottery ticket for the Cardinals – though one clearly worth a shot.
As long as people think of Wilson that way rather than as a future MLB star in the making, I am good. Getting better than Luke Voit seems a more reasonable goal than hoping that he will one day become the next Matt Holliday.
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