Don’t Sleep On Justin Wilson

It may not be right out of Spring Training, but at some point this season I expect Justin Wilson to be firmly entrenched in the Pirates’ major league bullpen.

Quick re-cap — Wilson was a 5th round pick from the 2008 draft.  He was a hero as a starter for Fresno State in the College World Series.  He has been a starter in college and the vast majority of his time in the Pirates’ minor league system.

Wilson has made 73 starts and 10 relief appearances during his 3 years in the system.  Wilson is said to possess such movement on his pitches that it works against him leading to high walk totals.  The 24-year-old has a career mark of 4.5 BB/9 in the minors.

Near the end of the 2011 season, however, the Pirates moved Wilson into a bullpen role.  While in the bullpen, Wilson’s fastball jumped up to 97 mph with some other rumored readings of 99 mph. 

With Clint Hurdle’s oft-stated preference for 2 lefties out of the bullpen, Wilson could pair with Tony Watson to form that tandem.  Wilson does not have extreme splits between right and left-handed batters, so he wouldn’t be restricted to a LOOGY role.  If his fastball can consistently stay in the 95+ mph range, Wilson could be an intriguing option as a set-up man or even as a closer candidate in the future.

*** Stray unrelated thought — If anyone in the Pirates’ clubhouse has any sense of humor, they’ll have a bundt cake waiting for A.J. Burnett when he comes off the disabled list.

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About Kevin Creagh

Kevin Creagh resides in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and has been a Pirate fan since the mid 1980′s. Kevin joined Pirates Prospects in July 2010 and enjoys writing about the economic side of baseball decisions. Many of Kevin’s articles focus on the long-term decisions that the Pirates and other organizations may need to make in the future, in order to balance escalating player salaries with built-in payroll limitations. Kevin also enjoys following prospects throughout the Pirates’ minor league system and forecasting their potential to help the major league team.
  • Lee Young

    As seen in yesterday’s game (or was it Wed?….I’ve been on travel for work), he can suddenly lose control. If not for that latter problem, I’d LOVE to see him in Pgh. Otherwise, he seems highly unreliable because of that.