"I don't like this pick", said the knowledgeable Cubs fan. He didn't mind the defense, but the offense..... wasn't yet. "If he doesn't hit, the pick and the slot money are wasted."
Wilson was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft. Or, the Happ Draft. I'm quite sure I'm not the only one who intentionally refers to each Theo Era Draft by the first guy chosen. The Almora Draft. The Bryant Draft. The Schwarber, Happ, and Hatch Draft. It's almost natural.
In 2015, Wilson didn't slay many fears. For two reasons. Nobody outside of Arizona sees Arizona League games. At least, not without traveling. And, his numbers were a bit pedestrian. Presuming you weren't watching.
When I moved to Rockford, Illinois, the Cubs CF was Jerry Martin. He played two seasons with the Cubs, playing over 140 games each season. Over the two seasons, his DWar per BBRef was 3.6. Below zero.
The Cubs have been notoriously poor about developing CFs. Abysmal, really. For an obscenely long stretch, the on two CFs that started the opener in successive years were Adolfo Phillips and Rick Monday.
However, the gig has changed. Significantly.
When the Cubs sign an amateur OF, very rarely are they a LF only type. (Schwarber was drafted as a catcher, remember.)
With that in mind, some Cubs fans might chafe that "the bat isn't there yet" on some minor league options. Like Wilson. However, using Martin from before as a baseline, his MLB offensive numbers were good both seasons in Wrigley.
But, oh, the defense.
The Eugene Emeralds went from the 1970's until last season between titles. The mind boggles. Many times, they had only seven competitors. Wilson was a part of the skein-breaking team. Since MiLB streams, people got to see three things from Wilson. All three are very important from a CF prospect.
Video: Eugene's Wilson makes diving catchHe is very good in CF. The other things will shake out as time progresses, like arm strength. However, his gap-to-gap speed is an everyday thing. A Jerry Martin-style defender he is not.
He has blazing functional speed. If he gets the ball by the 3B to the SS in the 5.5 hole, the SS has no time to make any mistakes. Bobble? It's a base runner. Throw sails? He's safe. He stole 28 bases, but that's a combination of things. His speed had its thumbprints all over rallies. He might be a triples machine, as well.
Video: Eugene's Wilson legs out a tripleHis power exists. No, I'm not projecting him to be a twenty homer guy. However, if the pitcher knows he can't lay a meatball across the plate, that make pitching more difficult.
Wilson turns 21 in October. An Ohio kid, he's kind of used to playing ball in cold weather. He figures to get most of the CF starts for South Bend. His speed will make the pitchers that much more willing to throw strikes. Like last year, when Eugene lead the Northwest League in ERA.
The CF in the Cubs system line up rather well. My guess is Wilson in South Bend, Connor Myers in Myrtle Beach, Trey Martin in Tennessee, Jacob Hannemann in Tennessee or Iowa, and John Andreoli in Iowa. As the corner guys are good as well, that will help the pitching all the way across the system.
Wilson should be fun to watch this season, particularly if he can take a few more pitches. And get a bit more downward contact. The bat still isn't entirely there yet. But he has three seasons before Rule 5-eligiblity.
He might figure it out.
If he does, he'll be a legitimate MLB starter. For somebody.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.