April 11, 2011 at 8:09 AM
RHP Alex Wilson
Date: April 7, 2011
Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Outing: 5 innings, 6 hits, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run allowed. 77 pitches.
Fastball: Throwing from a high ¾ arm slot, Wilson pitches heavily off of his fastball and uses it to get ahead of hitters before leaning on his secondary offerings later in the count. Sitting 92-93 MPH with the ability to reach back and touch 94 MPH, his four-seam fastball has been a featured offering for him since signing with the Red Sox organization. Able to move his four-seamer on both sides of the plate, Wilson can freeze batters with it when the pitch is on the corners or pick up late swings when he elevates it out of the strike zone with two strikes. However, his four-seam fastball can be on the straight side, especially when it is above the thighs which allows batter to gear up and get very good swings against it. With the need to create more movement, Wilson has begun to incorporate a 90-92 MPH two-seam fastball into sequences that showed considerable improvement from last year in his first outing of the 2011 season. Running in on right-handed hitters’ hands and showing good, late finish, the pitch enabled him to pick up more swinging strikes and limit the solid contact against when batters were able to put the ball in play. Still working on the feel of throwing this version of his fastball, Wilson still has some work to go with reeling the pitch in and commanding it within the strike zone. However, the potential is there for the pitch to become a featured piece of his arsenal going forward which would allow him to spot up more with his four-seam fastball to keep hitters at bay.
Secondary Offerings: Wilson’s mid-80s slider has been his go-to out-pitch since entering the professional ranks and can be a plus pitch at times. Featuring hard break down and out of the strike zone, he can make right-handed batters bail out of the box or weakly wave at the pitch as it dives into the dirt. The tight spin and hard velocity play well off of his fastball, especially with two strikes or later in the count when hitters are protecting the plate. Wilson can show the pitch too much out of his delivery though and the spin can be picked up quickly as his wrist drops down to show that he is snapping his slider off. When he’s not finishing with the offering, it tends to hang in the strike zone and lose the depth that makes it difficult for opposing batters to track. More consistency with his slider is key for Wilson to push it to becoming a true plus pitch at his disposal. With the ability to occasionally drop it in for a strike, he can use the pitch at any point in the count and displays the confidence to do so. He also throws a changeup, but this pitch is presently below-average and sits 85-86 MPH. Wilson has yet to master the arm speed with throwing this offering and tends to speed his delivery up when throwing his change, which typically telegraphs it. Working mostly on throwing his two-seam fastball in his first outing, his secondary offerings were not overly featured. While his slider is a piece that he will heavily lean on as the season unfolds, it remains to be seen what type of progress his changeup can make and whether it is going to become anything more than a below-average look pitch.
Take: Tracking quickly through the low minors and spending half of the 2010 season in Double-A, Wilson appears to be working heavily on developing his two-seam fastball in the beginning of the 2011 season. After getting hit relatively hard and struggling some with his fastball command in his first go-around with Portland, the improved fastball movement he showed is a good sign that he’s making adjustments against the more advanced hitters he now faces. While working out of a starting role for now, Wilson looks best suited to pitch out of the bullpen down the line. His fastball velocity tends to drop around the 40 pitch mark and it plays up much better in shorter bursts, when he can live in his upper reaches more consistently. He typically sees a 1-2 MPH drop in velocity by his second time through the lineup and experiences most of the damage against him at this point in his outings. His work developing his two-seamer should help him mitigate the damage against as a starter at this level and allow him to be more consistent over the course of the season. By pounding the zone with this pitch and spotting more with his four-seamer, Wilson can keep hitters more off-balance and then finish them off with his slider when he needs to limit the contact against. Even with the work honing his arsenal and improving his fastball movement, he should slide into the bullpen at some point over the course of the next season or so, most likely when he is closer to being major league ready. In 1-2 inning outings, Wilson has the potential to be very tough to make good contact against and can project as a late inning reliever if he can polish off the consistency of his slider to that of a plus offering. Possessing good raw stuff and able to live off of it in the low minors, Wilson has begun the process of sharpening his stuff even more and making adjustments to take the next step in his progression as a professional pitcher.