The annual Rule 5 Draft was conducted on Thursday, the final day of Major League Baseball’s yearly Winter Meetings. For those who may be unaware, the draft is designed to keep teams from stockpiling players in their respective farm systems when other teams would be willing to use said players at higher levels. The draft divided in to two portions: a major-league portion and a minor-league portion. For example, when a team drafts a player in the major-league portion, the team is required to keep the draftee on the big-league roster for the entirety of the season; if the team does not, they must offer the player back to the team he was drafted from for half of the acquisition price.
As Craig Edwards wrote, the Cardinals sustained a few losses in Thursday’s draft, and, despite not making what served to be their only selection of the day until the Triple-A segment, the player St. Louis landed is one who the organization had an anterior connection with: outfielder Austin Wilson.
Wilson was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft, a few years removed from declining an above-average offer from the Cardinals in the twelfth-round of the 2010 MLB Draft, an offer that the organization hoped would pull Wilson away from his college commitment; nonetheless, Wilson opted to follow through with his school agreement and attended Stanford University, where he became teammates with current Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty and, interestingly enough, Tyler Gaffney, a running back for the New England Patriots.
At 6’4" and well over 200 pounds, Wilson possesses a great deal of power and exhibits noteworthy speed (and defense) for his burly frame. After Wilson was drafted and signed by the M’s in 2013, Mike Rosenbaum of Bleacher Report crafted a very insightful story on Wilson. Here’s what Mr. Rosenbaum had to say of Wilson's power shortly after he was drafted:
[Wilson] possesses exceptional strength; plus bat speed thanks to quick, strong wrists; plus-plus power potential; still relies too much on sheer strength of upper body; high load with hands prevents him from exploding through the zone; should start to tap into his delivery with improved use of legs, core; can absolutely crush the ball; in-game power utility is the biggest concern regarding his offensive projection; some concern whether he’ll ever make enough contact to showcase consistent power; needs to start pulling more balls.
[Wilson has a] prototypical right field profile; has the athleticism and instincts to man center field in a pinch; fluid actions despite size; average range is best suited for a corner spot.
Throughout his 344 career games, which are highlighted by his 213 contests at the High-A level, the right-handed-hitting Wilson slashed .249/.346/.418 with 112 extra-base hits, including 60 doubles, ten triples, and 42 home runs. Out of Wilson's 2,701 1/3 innings of fieldwork during his tenure in the minors, 2,135 2/3 frames -- or about 79 percent -- were accumulated in right field. As a right fielder, Wilson owns a career .983 fielding percentage with a 1.97 range factor per nine innings.
Wilson, who is 24 years old, will begin his 2017 campaign in the minors, where he’ll look to further develop in hopes of becoming the solid all-around player he was drafted to be.