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Diamondbacks Top Prospect #18: Outfielder Marcus Wilson

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It’s been a painfully slow and steady progress for Wilson up the system.

Name: Marcus Wilson

DOB: 8/15/1996 (Age 22)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 175

Acquired: Competitive Balance Round B, 2014 Draft

Position: Center Fielder

Most Notable Tool: Speed

Season Stats: 111 games, 502 PA, .235/.309/.369 (84 wRC+), 26 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 60 R, 26/32 SB, 44/141 BB/K

2018 Season Summary: Coming off a strong 2017 campaign in which he handled the transition to full season ball well in Kane County, Wilson experienced set backs in 2018. All the rate stats severely declined in Visalia, which is typically a hitter-friendly league. BABIP dropped from .361 to .316, walk rate from 13% to 8%, strikeout rate from 24% to 28%, and ISO from .151 to .131. Wilson had never posted an OBP below .357 at any stop since his draft year, so the .306 mark he posted in 2018 was definitely a shock. When you see those type of numbers, you do wonder if the level was too challenging for him or if the entire season was just a speed bump.

Tools: Hit 35/55, Power 35/50, Speed 60, Defense 50/60

Wilson’s posted high BABIP and walk rates in the past, which is why I’m giving the high projected hit tool rating. He has the range and instincts to be a strong defensive center fielder, so the organization should still continue to remain patient and hope that hit tool develops. The power numbers are still a bit low for my liking, but I think that’s more of something that develops with more seasoning in A ball.

Upside: Wilson has the upside of an everyday center fielder, although given the recent prospect additions to the system that’s looking less likely. Wilson should be a quality defender in CF or a plus defender at a corner if he gets bumped off the position by Jake McCarthy or Alek Thomas. Wilson has shown a high BABIP skill with strong walk rates in the past, so we’ll see if 2018 was an aberration or the beginning of a disturbing trend. I’m leaning more towards the former to begin 2019. An All-Star level player is looking less likely and more just an average regular projection.

Risk: Two major risks come into play. The first is the Rule 5 Draft this month. Wilson has spent 5 years in the system and was left unprotected from the draft. Teams now are using that draft to take unprotected prospects to stash prospects for their own farm system, with the Padres abusing that process two offseasons ago. Wilson is talented enough for someone to possibly poach although his prospect shine is starting to fade. The second is Wilson’s poor 2018 may prove to be a bad sign of things to come and he simply just runs out of time before the Diamondbacks move on. As I mentioned before, the team added two outfielders on the first day of the 2018 draft who are more polished and more potential upside. Depending on those two players’ assignments, it could happen as early as this year.

Likely 2019 Assignment: With the drop in offensive productivity from 2017 to 2018, I think Wilson should repeat Visalia to start the year with a midseason promotion in mind if his 2nd go in the Cal League proves to be a successful one. He’s only 22, so there still is time left for him to establish himself as a potential prospect.

ETA: 2021 Season