Wilson paves way for Pache, Fire Frogs

Braves No. 13 prospect blanks Lakeland over 6 2/3 innings

Opponents are batting .178 against Bryse Wilson through four games this season. (Chris Robertson/MiLB.com)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | April 26, 2018 9:52 PM ET

Florida State League hitters beware, Bryse Wilson is showing no signs of mercy through his first four starts for the Class A Advanced Fire Frogs. 

Atlanta's No. 13 prospect turned in his third scoreless outing of the season Thursday, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out four through 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Florida's 8-1 victory over Lakeland. 


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Wilson credited his fastball command and the effectiveness of his offspeed pitches for the strong showing.

"I was just able to get a lot of ground balls and get some outs," he said. "It was a good feeling, just be able to go out there and kind of get in a groove and cruise."

Wilson improved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.45, which stands behind only Reds No. 5 prospect Tony Santillan among FSL hurlers. The 20-year-old worked around a one-out double to Chad Sedio in the first inning and retired the next seven hitters before issuing the first of his two walks to ninth-ranked Tigers prospect Daz Cameron.

Cam Gibson singled to lead off the fifth against Wilson, but the right-hander induced two groundouts and struck out Derek Hill to end the frame. In the sixth, Wilson erased another leadoff knock with a double play. The 2016 fourth-round pick hunkered down when the next batter, Isaac Paredes, reached on a throwing error by third baseman Jordan Rodgers and struck out Blaise Salter swinging on three pitches to get through the sixth. 

Wilson returned to start the seventh and got two quick groundouts. But he walked Austin Athmann after the at-bat went to a full count and exited after reaching his pitch count with 88. Justin Kelly came on and Athmann swiped second, but the lefty struck out Jose Azocar to strand the runner in scoring position. 

"Pitch counts, sometimes, you get to a point where you're battling the whole time and can't really get into a groove," Wilson said. "I was just able to get locked in, get a good feel for all of my pitches and be able to go for a good distance." 

A part of him wanted to finish the seventh, though. 

"I wanted it pretty bad," the right-hander said. "That's just how it is, that's fine." 

Wilson isn't sure whether his pitch count will increase heading into his upcoming starts, but he hopes that is the case. 

"I wanna think that they'll just starting letting us go now," he said. "But we'll see." 

The North Carolina native completed season highs in innings and pitches, throwing 61 strikes, in the outing. Wilson kept his infield busy, recording 13 ground-ball outs. His fastball has sink to it, and he learned last year with Class A Rome that becoming a ground-ball pitcher can be his style and serve as the key to future success.

"Strikeouts will come," said Wilson, who fanned five batters in each of his first three starts of 2018. "They may not. Either way, as long as I'm getting outs, I'm happy." 

With Rome in 2017, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound hurler struck out 139 batters over 137 innings while amassing a 10-7 record and a 2.50 ERA. He's replicated that success at the next level pitching to contact. 

"I just wanted to come into the season and have a similar year to last year and just do the best I could do," Wilson said. "It's worked out for me so far so I'm happy about that." 

The Orange High School (Hillsborough, N.C.) standout said one of his immediate goals is to develop the consistency of his changeup, as well as the frequency with which he throws it. 

"I feel comfortable with it. I just have to use it more," Wilson said. "That's something I've been working on. Being able to throw all of my pitches wherever I want has been a big thing for me as well." 

As the season progresses, he anticipates he will be more aggressive in trusting his repertoire. 

"Going into the last couple of innings, the pitching coach [Mike Maroth] was like, 'All right, we need to work in some changeups,'" Wilson said. "So we went out there and threw more changeups than we normally do, which is a little bit out of the comfort zone, but it worked out. Hopefully [I'll] be able to use that pitch more going forward." 

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Last year, the organization told him that, while results were important, developing his secondary pitches was equally -- if not more -- imperative. 

"I know that if I can get that pitch working and now and get comfortable with it and have it as a good third pitch, then I'll be able to succeed and have success at the higher levels," Wilson said.

Braves No. 9 prospect Cristian Pache backed his starter at the plate. The 19-year-old slugged his first Minor League home run -- a two-run shot to left field off Flying Tigers starter Anthony Castro in the fourth. Pache added an RBI double and finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored. 

"It's just good to see him get his first Minor League home run," Wilson said. "The power is going to come for him."

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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