Cole Wilcox Benefits From MLB Crash Course
The coronavirus pandemic halted Georgia’s season four starts into Cole Wilcox’s sophomore campaign. The 6-foot-5 righthander managed to continue to throw flat grounds but did not get on a mound again until the Padres signed him for $3.3 million, breaking the draft record for a third-round pick.
That it occurred a couple weeks before his 21st birthday on the same fields the Padres were using to prepare their big league hurlers for the 2020 season did not look odd in the least.
“He’s a very strong, very, very physical young man,” Padres farm director Sam Geaney said. “The ball comes out of his hand very, very well. He doesn’t look out of place if he’s doing his (pitchers fielding practice) or throwing program with other young prospects—or even the guys on the major league field.”
Given the Padres’ aggressive nature, it did not come as a surprise that they not only stocked their 60-man player pool with prospects years away from their debut, they invited two members of their 2020 draft class: high school outfielder Robert Hassell, the eighth overall pick; and Wilcox, who they had shown interest in dating back to his Georgia high school days.
Wilcox was considered a first-round talent in 2018 but went in the 37th round to the Nationals. That only affirmed his commitment to Georgia.
There, Wilcox packed on 30 pounds of muscle over two years. He began re-incorporating the changeup he had shelved as a freshman reliever. Command of a fastball that hits 100 mph was an emphasis as he moved back into the rotation this season, when he struck out 32, walked two and posted a 1.57 ERA over 23 innings.
The Padres jumped at the opportunity to fit Wilcox into their $10.67 million bonus pool when he lasted until the 80th overall pick.
“It’s definitely been a cool experience,” Wilcox said of his big league crash course. “You get to come out there and hang out with the guys who are real professionals in what they do and kind of sit and watch them and figure out how they’ve become successful and what they do to maintain their body through a long season.
“It’s definitely something I’ll remember for sure.”
— The progress that outfielder Edward Olivares showed at summer camp was one reason the Padres felt comfortable trading outfielder Franchy Cordero plus righthander Ronald Bolaños to the Royals for lefty reliever Tim Hill. Olivares made the Padres' 30-man Opening Day roster.
Olivares led the Padres’ farm system with 35 stolen bases at Double-A Amarillo in 2019 while slugging .453 and getting on base at a .349 clip. “He has a pretty steady heartbeat,” first-year manager Jayce Tingler said. “The way he runs stands out, the way he defends all three spots, his at-bats. He’s been as good as anybody at laying (off) pitches outside the zone.”
— Other prospects at summer camp who have not yet reached Double-A included shortstops CJ Abrams and Gabriel Arias, catcher Luis Campusano, lefthadners Ryan Weathers and Cantillo, second baseman Tucupita Marcano and outfielder Hudson Head.