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April 26, 2012 at 10:11 AM

The Book: Alex Wilson

Date: April 24, 2012
Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Line: 1.0 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout, 19 pitches

Fastball: Wilson’s heater worked 91-93 mph and topped out at 94 mph during this appearance. His fastball showed late finish when he kept it down in the zone, but he struggled to command the offering and it was mostly flat as a result. Wilson grabbed too much of the fat part of the plate and left it up during sequences as well, with opposing batters getting good swings on it. Three of the four balls put into play came against his fastball. In one instance, Wilson tried to get a 92 mph fastball inside on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Ramiro Pena, but he left it at the belt in the middle of the plate and it was lined into right field for a ringing single. He again couldn’t finish his delivery to throw his fastball downhill to the next two batters, with both able to elevate heaters in the upper tier of the strike zone for deeper flyball outs to centerfield. Wilson’s best fastball was his last pitch of the night. Finishing on top of the ball in this instance, he painted the inner third of the plate with a 92 mph fastball to catch Jayson Nix looking to end the frame. This one, as opposed to most of his others, showed late downward movement as a result of Wilson finishing through his delivery.

Slider: This pitch lacked its usual bite in the outing. Sitting 82-83 mph, Wilson had trouble creating strong rotation and did not have much feel for it. He snapped off one lone sharp slider at 83 mph, which resulted in a swinging strike and had the opposing batter pulling off the ball. This slider had tight, late break to fall off the table at the last instance. The other five he threw never started with the appearance of being a strike or floated at the tail-end, rather than darting. Wilson hung an 0-1 82 mph slider to Brandon Laird that resulted in a hard one-hop single into left field and got away with another slurvy one that was taken for a strike later in the frame. Both lacked strong depth. The rest started out too low and ended up bouncing in the dirt. There was not enough deception created with these offerings and he held onto the ball too long when snapping them off. They were made even easier to take by the fact that his fastball was elevated all outing. Similar to when throwing his fastball, Wilson rushed through his delivery and could not keep his hand above the baseball to generate the type of rotation necessary to allow him to be consistent with the pitch.

Take: This is the second time I have seen Wilson throw in a relief setting as a professional. Although the first time was in last year’s Double-A All-Star game and in an exhibition environment, the patterns were similar. Wilson came out in this appearance rushing his delivery. As a result, he could not command his fastball well or keep the ball down. He looked a little stiffer than usual when throwing too, which made it tougher to create fastball velocity. His body appeared out of sync. Wilson’s four-seamer flattens out in the upper tier of the strike zone, which makes it important for him to finish his delivery consistently. He needs to pick his instances to elevate his heater carefully to avoid solid contact in the air. Wilson’s slider plays up much better when he makes opposing hitters respect the lower tier of the strike zone. Even with a crisper one during this outing, he was not creating enough variation with the eye level or getting ahead of opposing batters to force them to swing.

Wilson’s fastball and slider combination can play up well in a relief role. This is what his stuff is best suited for in the long run at the major league level. Given this was his first appearance out of the bullpen since transitioning, I expected him to be a bit on the rough side and need some time to get acclimated. When Wilson does not rush through his delivery, he is able to consistently throw to spots on both sides of the plate and generate better fastball velocity. In short bursts, his fastball can touch up to 97 mph. The key going forward is reeling in the pace of his delivery when relieving. This will allow him to finish fully and eliminate the wavering release point he showed in this outing. Both the command of his arsenal and crispness of the slider depend on this aspect. After a few more outings out of the bullpen, I see Wilson having a better handle on how he needs to execute in this role and can begin to show he is trending towards a future seventh inning reliever at the big league level.

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen