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July 1, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Scouting Scratch: Aaron Wilkerson

This week, Eduardo Rodriguez became the latest ineffective Boston starting pitcher to be optioned to Pawtucket, begging the question of who could possibly be next in line to get a shot in Boston after Joe Kelly, Henry Owens, Sean O’Sullivan, and Roenis Elias have all had their chance and failed to stick. Right-hander Aaron Wilkerson has taken an atypical path to the cusp of the majors, but he has positioned himself as the most likely candidate to get a chance in the Red Sox rotation, perhaps as soon as this Sunday in Rodriguez’s former spot. This season, the SoxProspects scouting team has had the chance to see Wilkerson twice. The following is our scouting report on the 27-year-old based on those outings, along with video from his second outing.
Age: 27
Born: May 24, 1989, Waco, TX
Height: 6-3
Throws: Right
Drafted: Not drafted
How Acquired: Contract purchased from Grand Prairie of the American Association and signed to a minor league deal (July 2014)

Dates Seen: 

4/22/2016 and 5/28/2016

Physical Description - Standard pitcher’s frame. Not overly physical, with no remaining projection.

Arm/Delivery Mechanics – Throws from the third base side of the rubber and comes over the top. Controlled, quick delivery. 1.10-1.15 seconds from the stretch. Brings arm back and down with a short stab and pronates wrist behind his body. Gets deception in his delivery by keeping the ball behind his body and head until late. Pitches downhill and repeats delivery.

Future Grades
Fastball (50) – 88-90 mph. Tops out at 92 mph. Pitch will show run at times, cut at others. Struggles to locate arm side at times. Control is ahead of command. Throws strikes with the pitch. Hitters do not pick the pitch up until late.

Curveball (50) – 73-75 mph. True 12-to-6 offering. Long break with depth through the zone. Solid feel for offering, but doesn’t always snap it off consistently and will roll to the plate. Does a good job keeping the pitch down in the zone.

Changeup (45) – 83-85 mph. Similar arm speed to fastball. Will occasionally show drop, but lacks movement for the most part.

Slider (40) – 82-84 mph. Slurvey offering that lacks bite and is inconsistent. Clearly behind other secondary offerings. Doesn’t consistently finish the pitch and leaves it up in the zone too much.

Career Notes – Has taken a circuitous path to the brink of the major leagues. Went undrafted after two seasons each at Panola College, a Texas junior college, and Cumberland University, an NAIA school in Tennessee. Underwent Tommy John surgery late in his senior season in 2011 and was out of baseball entirely for a year while rehabbing, even working in a supermarket. Played with three different independent teams in three different leagues in 2013, then was signed midseason in 2014 from Grand Prairie of the American Association to fill a spot in the Lowell rotation. Worked primarily in a piggyback role to start 2015 before forcing his way into the Salem rotation for good after getting starts due to injuries.

Summation – Projects as an emergency major league arm. Ceiling of a fringe number five starter or spot starter. Lacks a true above-average pitch and has consistently been behind the age curve due to his late signing. Has strong pitchability and a decent four-pitch mix, but his stuff will be tested by more advanced hitters. Has shown he can handle Double-A and, so far, Triple-A, and at worst should settle in as a solid contributor at that level. 


Photo credit: Aaron Wilkerson by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.