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Can Austin Wilson Become Luke Voit?

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.

wilson-ab-200An 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 %
Wilson A+ 2015-16 23-24 877 31 23 97 0.233 0.340 0.374 0.714 9.0 31.0
Voit A+ 2014-15 23-24 929 39 20 128 0.274 0.352 0.421 0.773 10.2 19.7

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.

voit-ab-200-5634That 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 %
Wilson AA 2017 25
Voit AA 2016 25 546 20 19 74 0.297 0.372 0.477 0.849 9.5 15.2

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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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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40 Responses to “Can Austin Wilson Become Luke Voit?”

  1. blingboy says:

    Yeah, Austin Wilson is all we have to talk about.

    • crdswmn says:

      I find I have less and less to talk about as far as the Cardinals are concerned.

      I have about as much enthusiasm for Brett Cecil and Dexter Fowler as I had for the flu shot I just got.

      • blingboy says:

        I am happy enough with fowler and at least it is something to talk about.

        • crdswmn says:

          I am not happy with Fowler. He will be 5 years of barely average CF defense (and that is only if you squint just right). I am tired of overpaying for mediocrity.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Other than Leake, perhaps, who has four years remaining to prove himself, to whom did the Cards overpay for mediocrity? I thought they had done a better job than most avoiding that. Guess I was mistaken.

            • crdswmn says:

              Fowler makes two. That is two of recent vintage.

              The Cardinals have avoided it until the last two seasons. It’s a disturbing recent trend. One was bad enough, two is alarming.

            • jj-cf-stl says:

              so stl forfeits pick 19 as comp? what number pick would signing another Q-offer player cost the org?
              haven’t seen a draft order past the first 30 picks, for june of 17′, yet.

              • Brian Walton says:

                They may have moved up a spot or two based on other free agent signings, but yes, the Cardinals have forfeited their first round pick this coming June, as well as the cap money that goes with it.

                Another qualifying offer signing would take away their second-round pick. It is worth noting, however, that they will receive a Competitive Balance pick after the second round.

                My guess is that because the draft order is still written in pencil, sites are waiting to publish updates.

                • jj-cf-stl says:

                  so if we sign another Q-offer player we lose a mid-40’s to 50’s pick.
                  if losing #19 didn’t hold us back…..

                  • Brian Walton says:

                    Based on Mo’s comments yesterday, I am not thinking that getting another big ticket guy is in the plans.

                    • jj-cf-stl says:

                      I prefer goolds comments, but agree with your thinking.

                      back of envelop scratching…. 30 picks in 1st round, two lost so far for comp FA’s and two gained for desmond and fowler, back to 30 picks.
                      5 Q-offer FA’s remaining, call it 35 picks.
                      6 picks round A comp (cin, mia, mil, min, oak, tbr), call it 41.
                      then stl is 18th in round 2, call it pick 59. could be as low as #55, no higher than #59

                      the loss of a mid to high 50’s second round pick is trivial to what a Q-offer player could bring. the loss of this pick is also far less damaging than the trade packages we are seeing this winter.

                    • jj-cf-stl says:

                      Q-offers jansen and turner re-sign w/former club. stl second round pick currently #55 – #57. bautista, Encarnacion and Trumbo Q-offers remain unsigned.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Earlier, I posted my commentary about the Fowler signing here.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Good move by Mo to sign Fowler. He’s a switch hitter who gets on base. Dexter is established. He plays a position where we need help.

      The cards and Cubs are getting to be competitors like the Red Sox and Yankees, who sign each other’s free agents. They sign lackey, Jay, and Heyward, the cards sign Fowler.

      Good theater.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Flu shots are good deals. Just like Cecil and Fowler.

        Dewitt and Mo like to compete, in the here and now. They don’t smoke a lot of prospect hopium.

        • blingboy says:

          I think Mo is learning something about relying too much on whatever comes out the end of the prospect pipeline. They may not be just what you need right then so you stick them wherever and you end up with what we had last year. If you need a center fielder who can lead off, then that is what you need.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Who came out of the prospect pipeline last year? Who did they count on who let them down?

            The 2016 team clearly sacrificed defense for hitting, but prospects were not the problem, in my opinion. They seemed quite happy with Carpenter leading off and CF was not the worst position on defense by far. In fact, it was one of the better spots.

            They got better on defense for 2017 just by letting plodders Holliday and Moss go. Moving Carpenter to first and (supposedly) re-installing Wong at second are two more defensive positives. Nothing to do with prospects.

            The genesis of the outfield need was the death of Taveras followed by Heyward leaving town. Had either one of those not occurred, there would have been no need to sign an outfielder. Because they were stuck with Holliday for one final year and had one more year of a reasonably-priced Moss, they waited to make a big move.

            I agree that the Fowler signing addresses needs, making both CF and LF stronger. I also would like to see Carpenter driving in runs so am hoping they have Fowler leading off and can become less of a station-to-station team.

            I just don’t think it has much of anything to do with prospects.

            • blingboy says:

              I had not meant to focus on guys making the jump last year specifically. What I meant was we had no CF because we thought we could put a guy there. we had no second base for same reason. We had no 3B for same reason. We had a SS who is probably not good enough defensively, we had an old SS at 3rd because we didn’t have a 3B because he was at 1st because we didn’t have a 1B because we tried to put UT there because that’s all we had. We saw what happens when you fit in what you have because you don’t have what you need.

            • crdswmn says:

              I am going to say this once, then I am not going to talk about it again, because arguing about it is a waste of time.

              I agree LF is stronger, but CF is most definitely not. Fowler is no better a defender in CF than Grichuk, in fact, he may be worse. Fowler had better numbers for two years out of his entire career, and both years in CF, playing in the weird winds of Wrigley, and one of those years was flanked by the best RF in baseball. I don’t buy that his defense has improved; moreover he is on the wrong side of 30 and the normal aging curves say he is only going to get worse.

              The outfield defense, if Grichuk plays LF and Fowler plays CF may be slightly better because LF is better, but not better enough to make more than a marginal difference. The infield defense will be better only if Wong plays more than he did last year.

              Overall the defense has not improved very much. Maybe they can make up for it on offense, but we all saw how that worked out last season, I am not holding my breath.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Good subject for an essay.

    It’s a trick question because Voit is a good hitter. He has seen a lot of pitches and knows what he doing at the plate. He is underappreciated as a bad bodied right swinging first baseman. It’s a tough demographic, but Voit could play in the majors.

    It’s encouraging Wilson excelled in 2014. It’s hard not to hit in the California league.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      And since he has been lousy in the California league, the mariners gave up on Wilson.

      We have seen this plot before. Great body, but problems hitting.

      I like drafting Wilson, because he is smart and I think hitting is a learned skill. We believed in him in 2010, we can keep believing in 2017.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Mr Wilson needs to start believing in himself too

        • Brian Walton says:

          Strange comment. I always wonder why you think you can get inside people’s minds. Even Mr. Spock had to place his hand on the subject’s head to do a mind meld.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Wilson hit .239 his first season in the California league. He was asked to repeat it and instead of improving, he declined, striking out about 1.5 times per game. The mariners gave up. It would be depressing for most players. I am not suggesting depression caused the weak performance. But a positive outlook coupled with some adjustments will be essential to moving ahead.
            The Midwest league is a pretty tough league for hitters and Wilson did well there in 2014. That’s an important positive.
            He also will work walks. That’s a positive. His on base percentage in the California league was decent.
            He may be trying to do too much and swing for the fences. He needs to make more contact and dink singles to right field.
            Maybe he has gotten muscle bound and the cards health gurus can reshape him.
            Sometimes lack of success opens somebody up to the necessity of making changes. Kris Bryant Austin Wilson is not. But he can do better than 2016, provided he shares this faith. Even if he makes adjustments to his swing, Morale will be important, because pitchers want to get hitters out.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Men make statistics. Statistics also make men, but less so.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Wilson was a teammate of Stephen Piscotty for the Stanford Cardinal. In 2012, the two men had the same OPS 882.
            Both men hit well in the cape cod league after their sophomore campaigns.
            Maybe being reunited with Piscotty and Danny diekroger can encourage Wilson to equal Piscotty again

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Two guys Wilson reminds me of are Anthony Garcia and David Washington. They spent a couple of years at Palm beach and did not hit well. Brian doubted they would reach AA, but Washington hit 30 hrs last summer and Garcia is still on the 40 man roster.
    Wilson can get a shot at Springfield and the change of scenery may be good for his coconut. He is finally with the team that believed in him back in 2010.
    Reminds me of the Ryan ludwick story. Mo scouted him coming out of college, but Luddy was drafted by another team. Mo remembered Luddy years later.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Good Lord, Jumbo. You continue your ongoing practice of just making things up as you craft your little vignettes. Most of the time, I just let it go, but when you misrepresent me on my own site, I am going to call you out every single time.

      Why would I doubt Garcia reaching Double-A while ranking him off and on as a top 40 prospect? We once had him ranked as high as #9 in the system. In fact, I challenge you to show where I said any even-marginal prospect such as Washington could not reach Double-A from high-A. The majors, sure, but not Double-A.

      Provide proof or shut up.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        You made predictions about the Springfield roster for 2015. if you can link to positive predictions about grcia and Washington, I shall be pleased.

        • Brian Walton says:

          First of all, a prediction for one point in time has nothing to do with whether the player will ever reach that level. They are two very different things, but I can see you are trying to wiggle out of your dilemma of making a point you cannot back up.

          For the record, my 2015 Springfield roster prediction included Garcia, who did make the team. It also had Voit at first base instead of Washington. My analysis told me that Voit had a better 2014 at Palm Beach than did Washington. Through Washington made the Springfield team over Voit, Washington was not ready and was later demoted back to Palm Beach, where he stayed for a month before being returned to Springfield.

          I did not consider it at the time, but in hindsight, one reason Washington could have been advanced ahead of Voit was that he was closer to free agency. That is a factor I need to keep in mind when making roster predictions.

          I could make happy talk predictions where there are 35 players on every roster, but I prefer to try to be realistic.

          Again, that has zero to do with what may happen later on. Just because a player did not reach a level day one, it says nothing about his future potential to do so.

          It amazes me that I have to spell this out.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Thanks for looking up your 2015 predictions. I am usually not going to do that myself, because I would not know where to look. I am very impressed you could unearth them.
            Please do not react too much to my digs. It’s just baseball and none of us should annoy.
            I think my point was that some players can struggle at high A and do better at AA. Mysterious but sometimes so.
            Darryl Jones was the opposite, equally strange.
            I was defending Wilsons potential for growth. We got to know and like him in 2010.
            We like Luke Voit too. A great find at round 23.

            • Brian Walton says:

              Just because you are unable or unwilling to look up information does not excuse turning guesses into statements of fact. As I have asked before, please choose your words more carefully – at least when taking me on.

              So you can do your own research next time…

              12 years of information about every player who suited up in the Cardinals system can easily be located by simply entering a player’s name in the maroon-colored search box at the upper right of The Cardinal Nation home page. Every article about every player is presented, indexed by title and date. In addition to articles, you can also search message board posts in the same fashion.

              You cannot find that depth of historical information on Cardinals minor leaguers and major leaguers anywhere else.

              There is a search capability here on the TCN Blog, as well, also at the upper right of the page.

              I now understand your point about A+ and AA and just wish you had put it that way in the first place.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Garcia’s low point was 2014, when he hit .227 in his second year at Palm Beach. Here is what I wrote in January 2015, just before he reached Double-A.

      “It will be interesting to see if Garcia can bridge his winter performance into a comeback season on US soil this summer. Despite stalling at Palm Beach the last two seasons, he still just turned 23 years of age less than two weeks ago. So, Garcia has time.”

      • JumboShrimp says:

        So ,227 by Garcia was acceptable, but .225 or whatever by Wilson is no good? 😀😍🦄. Yikes. Audacious.
        Please desist with age and education discrimination. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Mr. Wilson matriculating at Stanford. 😀

        • Brian Walton says:

          What mumbo jumbo! I said from the start that I think Wilson is likely going to be at Springfield this season. Garcia was the MVP of the 2014-2015 Puerto Rican Winter League so yes, I talked about that favorably. I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, though, and I wish you would stop.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            I tend not to like age related comments, like he can improve because only 23. I am not persuaded this kind of perspective is helpful. Age is not one of the tools evaluated by scouts.
            Wilson went to college for three years. Had he foregone this education, he would still be the same talent and not any better if a year younger. Wilson either learns to spray hits to RF or he does not

    • Brian Walton says:

      Ryan Ludwick is a misguided comp for Wilson. By the time he signed with the Cards, he had already played in MLB with two different teams over parts of four seasons. He had the talent but had been limited by injury. Teams scout literally thousands of players, so the reunion makes a nice feel-good story, but it is not unique.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        I did not say Wilson and ludwick were comps. Rather mo scouted ludwick at UNLV and liked him. So when he got a chance to land ludwick as a minor league free agent, we snapped him up.
        We liked Wilson coming out of high school. When we got a chance to take him away from the Mariners, it was a no brained.

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