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Marcus Wilson Shows Well-Rounded Skills

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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.

SOX YARNS

— 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.

— The Red Sox promoted Shawn Haviland to the role of pitching coordinator (performance), assuming the role in which Dave Bush served in 2019 before his promotion to big league pitching coach.

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Kristian Robinson Already Thinking Big

The precocious young outfielder is making a concerted effort to improve his contact rate. From there he will implement other changes, as necessary.

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