Bryse Wilson has always thrown a two-seam fastball. It's been one of his go-to pitches since he started pitching in high school and he "lived off it" last season at Class A Rome.
So when Atlanta's analytics department relayed to Wilson that TrackMan data indicated he should ditch his two-seamer in favor of his four-seam fastball, he was leery at first. With his recent results, there's no more apprehension.
The 12th-ranked Braves prospect scattered four hits and struck out seven over 6 1/3 innings in Double-A Mississippi's 1-0 win over Birmingham on Sunday at Regions Field. In his previous start on July 3, Wilson allowed five hits while fanning a season-high nine over seven scoreless innings against Pensacola, his first outing since he was told to temporarily eschew his two-seamer from his repertoire.
Video: Braves' Wilson fans seven in scoreless outing
"They said his four-seam fastball was off the charts and he should ditch his two-seam fastball for awhile," Mississippi pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn said. "We said, 'We'll try it and see what happens.' And that's what he's done and it's obviously helped tremendously. But he's also been more aggressive, he's pitched inside well. He's developing a changeup. He's maturing as a pitcher."
The 20-year-old right-hander earned a callup to the Southern League after allowing just one earned run over 26 2/3 innings for Class A Advanced Florida, but it hasn't been a seamless transition. Before his stellar outing against Pensacola, Wilson was 1-5 with a 6.25 ERA and a .301 average against in 10 starts with Mississippi.
"I struggled a little bit, but from those struggles I learned a lot," Wilson said. "You hit your lowest lows and there's nowhere else to go from there than up."
Lewallyn echoed that sentiment.
"I think growing pains are necessary for anyone that's going to pitch in the big leagues," the pitching coach said. "Because you have to struggle along the way to learn how to deal with failure. He had an outing about three weeks or a month ago in Biloxi where he was basically a deer in headlights. He couldn't get them out and couldn't make adjustments. He even came to me and said, 'I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do to counter what they were doing.' I said, 'You're better off doing that down here than in the big leagues.'"
Wilson was pegged by many as a future reliever because of his 60-grade fastball, according to MLB Pipeline, but his developing changeup rounded him out as a pitcher and enabled him to stick in starting rotations.
"In high school, I didn't throw a changeup at all. So coming into pro ball, I didn't have a changeup, period," Wilson said. "I've been able to develop that and it's helped a lot. As a starter, you obviously have to have three pitches."
Wilson has not only stuck as a starter, but excelled there for most of his Minors career. His 2.50 ERA with Class A Rome in his first full season topped the Braves system.
Included in the same Draft class as top-30 Braves prospects Ian Anderson (No. 4), Joey Wentz (No. 9) and Kyle Muller (No. 12), the fourth-round pick out of Orange High School in Hillsborough, North Carolina, forewent a commitment to the University of North Carolina to sign with the Braves for a reported $1.2 million.
Gameday box score
The 6-foot-1 righty did not allow more than one baserunner to reach in an inning Sunday. He threw 67 of his 101 pitches for strikes and did not issue a walk.
"I feel like I could throw my fastball where ever I wanted, so that helped a lot," Wilson said. "I threw them some off-speed early in the count to get ahead, and with my changeup, I felt a lot more comfortable. All three pitches felt really good."
Kelvin Vasquez followed Wilson by striking out two and walking one over 1 2/3 innings and Chad Sobotka earned his third save of the season after hitting Danny Mendick with a pitch by inducing a game-ending double play on Nicky Delmonico's grounder to second.
The stellar pitching held up Tyler Neslony's first homer of the season in the first off Alec Hansen (0-4). The fifth-ranked White Sox prospect scattered four hits and one walk over six innings to take the hard-luck loss.