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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #11 - Jacob Wilson

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There's only a few guys on this list that have the potential to really impact the big league club in 2015, and Jacob Wilson is most certainly one of those guys if he can repeat his stellar 2014 season at the plate.

Jacob Wilson
Jacob Wilson
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired: Draft, 2012 (10th Round, #330); University of Memphis

Birthday: 7/29/1990

Age: 24

Minor League Stops in 2014: Palm Beach (A+), Springfield (AA)

2014 Totals:

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

K%

BB%

wOBA

283 .302 .362 .460 .158 16.6% 8.1% .375


F-R Grades:

(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)

Hit

Run

Arm

Field

Power

50/55 45 50/55 50 50/55


As Kiley McDaniel put it in his blurb on Wilson over at Fangraphs:

...average across the board at an up-the-middle position is hard to find these days.

Agreed. This is especially true when said player can play everywhere on the infield but SS and both corner outfield spots in a pinch if needed.  Wilson is listed as a 2B and has transitioned to the position well (he played corner infield in college at Memphis) but it's his bat and overall utility that make give him the potential for a call up in 2015 if the need arises.

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RB did a profile on Wilson back in November, asking the question of whether he's in the same class as former middling-prospect-turned-above-average-corner-man Allen Craig.  Can't say that I totally agree with that assessment as I still think that Craig's bat was quite a bit better at this age and was more consistently good throughout his minor league career. I agree with this part though:

We'll just have to wait and see, obviously. But, if the Cardinals are looking for a utility infielder to spell one or all of their left-handed hitters who play three of the four infield positions who hits from the right side, well...I'm thinking there's a decent chance that player is already in the the system.

In other words: Jacob Wilson really complements a Wong/Carpenter/Adams infield pretty well given his handedness and ability to play all those positions at a decent enough level to not incite a riot (like Skip Schumaker nearly did more than a few times).

Down in the comments, former F-R Editor azruavatar made an excellent point regarding the Wilson/Craig comparison:

I think Jacob Wilson would be a Quad-A player if he had Allen Craig's lack of positional utility.  Since he doesn't, I think the bat is likely good enough to get him a utility role somewhere and possibly even a regular on an MLB team weak at second base that doesn't care a whole lot about defense (or shifts a ton like the Astros and Pirates do).  It's worth seeing what he's able to do at AAA, but his work in the AFL last year doesn't make me fret about that bat all that much.

I'm with Az on this though: Wilson will never hit for as much power as Allen Craig did at the AAA and MLB level.  He just doesn't get as much lift on the ball as Craig did despite being able to turn and pull the ball really well:

Notice the doubles to every part of the park, but the deep off-the-wall doubles and homers are nearly all to the pull side. This would decidedly NOT be Allen Craig's hit chart -- it would look more like another former 2011 World Series Champion Cardinal.

To be honest, I'd see more David Freese here than Allen Craig: Drives the ball the opposite way well, can lose one in the seats on occasion, makes a lot of contact, doesn't strike out a ton, and squares the ball up in such a way that his .348 BABIP last year might not be a tremendous outlier of his true talent level.

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One thing to notice is how much less wrapped the bat is in his pre-load phase later in the year with Springfield. This is something Springfield manager Mike Shildt stresses as it makes it easier to get the bat perpendicular to the ground during the load phase. Not a huge difference, but I wonder if Wilson wasn't having problems getting tied up inside and decided to make that adjustment.

2015 Outlook:

When you look Wilson's huge improvement last year, it gives you a lot of hope for someone like Carson Kelly to make the jump at some point given that both have struggled with below average BABIP's in the lower minors.  For Wilson, he's got a lot of competition in the higher minors for his utility role: Greg Garcia, Breyvic Valera, Dean Anna, Ty Kelly, and Aledmys Diaz will all be auditioning for that role with the big club this spring and they'll likely all be around for at least the summer of 2015 as well. Depth is a good thing, folks -- it forces players to stand out from the pack.

Overall Grade: B