Bobby Wilson won’t be a professional baseball player for the first time since the Angels drafted him in the 48th round out of St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC in 2002.
The 36-year-old spent 10 seasons in the majors leagues. That’s a heavy toll on any player, let alone a catcher.
Those years provided Wilson a wealth of knowledge and a desire to pass it on. So he is moving from retirement right into his first season as a minor league coach.
He landed as a manager for an affiliate of one of his six former organizations, the Rangers, and they have a rather large reason for handing Wilson the reins to Double-A Frisco.
Wilson is to serve as a mentor for top catching prospect Sam Huff in addition to all the other duties a minor league manager has.
“It’s exciting to be able to possibly have somebody of that caliber,” Wilson said. “We’ve already had conversations about what my plan is for him and how we’re going to speed up his curve as fast as we can, on preparation and the mental side of the game.”
Some consider Huff, the MVP of the 2019 Futures Game, to be the organization’s top prospect, in part because of his position.
The 2016 seventh-rounder out of high school in Phoenix is a power hitter and bashed 28 home runs with an .845 OPS across two Class A levels, but the 21-year-old also moves well behind the plate and is a quality defender despite his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame.
Wilson, who played for the Rangers in 2015 and 2016, caught 8,310 innings in his career. Most of those came in the minors, and some of them as recently as 2019.
He knows how to survive a season and how to get pitchers through rough innings and wants to give that knowledge to the next wave of players.
“He wanted to go to the minor leagues and learn the craft,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Bobby’s path to the big leagues, his overall maturity and intelligence and feel for people, I think he’s pretty well prepared for it.
— The Rangers’ trade for Corey Kluber sent rookie reliever Emmanuel Clase to the Indians, and could create an opening in the big league bullpen for Demarcus Evans. Rated as the top reliever in the minors in 2019 by Baseball America, Evans reached Double-A last season. He doesn’t throw as hard as Clase, but he has a high-spin curveball that generates swings and misses.
— The Rangers were relieved to not lose reliever Joe Barlow in the Rule 5 draft. The righthander is one of the hardest throwers in the organization but needs to work on harnessing his command. He finished last season at Triple-A.