Marcus Wilson Shows Well-Rounded Skills
When the Red Sox acquired outfielder Marcus Wilson from the Diamondbacks for Blake Swihart last spring, the organization saw a player with a chance to provide outfield depth at the upper levels of the minors.
Yet the transition between organizations proved sufficiently jarring to challenge that outlook.
Wilson, a 2014 supplemental second-rounder out of high school, opened at Double-A Portland but hit just .161 while striking out 44 percent of the time in 19 games. Worried that he would become overwhelmed, the Red Sox demoted him to high Class A Salem.
There, Wilson caught his breath and excelled against Carolina League competition. In 45 games, he hit .342/.413/.603 while lowering his strikeout rate to 28 percent. He reclaimed the plate discipline—in concert with good outfield range that played in both center and right field—to re-establish his prospect credentials.
Wilson moved back to Portland for the final month and a half of the season, where he hit .250/.325/.486 with a 30 percent strikeout rate. He was, in the words of Portland manager Joe Oliver, a "more confident player and more confident person,” one who had an approach rather than selling out with a pull-happy swing.
Even with a more controlled approach, Wilson showed playable power—average to above-average—in games. The swing-and-miss inherent in the righthanded hitter’s game likely will cap his batting average and on-base percentage.
if he doesn’t make more frequent contact, it’s hard to project the 23-year-old Wilson as an everyday player. But in his return to Portland, he showed enough contact and power to put himself back in position as a potential outfield reserve.
"He’s having production where it’s not just, ‘If this kid figures it out, there’s a lot of potential,' " outfield coordinator Darren Fenster said. "He’s really starting to figure some things out.”
The Red Sox added Wilson to the 40-man roster in November. It remains to be seen if he opens 2020 in Double-A or Triple-A, but he will be part of the organization's calculus of its outfield depth.
— After a one-year hiatus, the Red Sox brought back their rookie development program in 2020, inviting 12 players who are viewed as near-term big league depth: outfielders Wilson and Jarren Duran, third baseman Bobby Dalbec, shortstops C.J. Chatham and Jonathan Arauz, righties Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata, Thad Ward, Durbin Feltman and Robinson Leyer; and lefties Kyle Hart and Yoan Aybar.