MLB Draft Notebook: Will Wilson, Wolfpack Arms And A Physical Pittsburgh Bat
Here are reports on four players who impressed for North Carolina State and one who was particularly loud with the bat for Pittsburgh from last weekend's ACC opener for both teams.
In last week's draft notebook, we took a look at a trio of exciting Elon pitchers.
Will Wilson, SS, North Carolina State
Wilson is seeing his draft status move up week by week. He currently ranks No. 38 on the Baseball America Top 200 Draft Prospects list and can be expected to rise in our next update.
The athletic shortstop made his impact immediately on a chilly Friday against the Panthers, singling through the left side of the infield and promptly stealing second base to start the game. He stays balanced at the plate and has good tracking ability, evidenced by an at-bat in which he battled and drew a walk on a close 3-2 pitch. He is particularly quick inside, with a compact swing.
In the field, he showed off a plus arm with the ability to throw from multiple angles. His footwork is good, and he knows how to come in properly on a soft grounder. More impressive is his internal clock, as Wilson can make defensive adjustments off the bat and has a natural feel for the shortstop position. Wilson isn't the rangiest shortstop, but he shows excellent reactions which makes up for his modest first step.
While he stays under control on the field, Wilson clearly shows that he is a multi-faceted weapon for the Wolfpack.
Jason Parker, RHP, North Carolina State
Parker has fit in nicely with the Wolfpack since transferring over from Louisburg (N.C.) JC. The junior righthander pitched well last year and kept extra-base hits to a minimum, allowing just five in 58 innings while posting a staff-best 3.72 ERA.
The righthander went five innings for the second straight start on Friday, tossing 79 pitches over five clean frames. Parker throws from an athletic delivery and stays under control, using a three-quarter arm slot to deliver his pitches. His arm action is relaxed and repeatable, allowing him to throw his fastball for strikes to the arm-side with consistency. His fastball was up to 93 mph, and he wasn't afraid to pitch inside, especially against lefthanded hitters.
He throws both a curveball and slider but tends to lean more on the latter early in counts. His slider was up to 82 mph with decent depth and good horizontal movement, though one of the offerings hit a lefthanded hitter.
His curveball was in the upper 70s but erratic for most of the afternoon. He was able to freeze one righthanded batter for a strikeout with a curveball that flashed above-average, with 11-to-5 shape.
His best offering was an above-average changeup, which he was able to throw for strikes in the lower half of the zone. While the mid-80s offering didn't have much velocity difference, he was able to throw it with good arm speed and some sinking action. The pitch got swings and misses when thrown arm-side, and Parker was able to throw his best changeup of the afternoon for a big strikeout to leave runners stranded in the top of the fifth inning.
Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State (Class of 2020)
Bailey is looking to continue building off his impressive freshman campaign at North Carolina State. The 6-foot-2 catcher broke an N.C. State freshman record with 13 home runs, cementing his place as the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year.
Even though it's just his second collegiate season, Bailey showed signs of maturity throughout the game. He uses an athletic, open stance from both sides of the plate and closes with a small leg kick. He tracks pitches well and has a patient approach. The switch-hitter was fooled on a breaking pitch as a lefty, but he was able to keep his hands back and hit a soft single to center field in the third inning.
On defense, Bailey has good hands and footwork behind home plate. He has good presentation skills and moves well laterally from side to side, getting his body down to block pitches effectively. The sophomore, who will be eligible for the 2020 draft class, communicated effectively with his pitchers, picking the right spots to chat with his pitchers before navigating through some tough situations.
Overall, his profile has a lot of upside to it. He has a large frame with lots of room to add weight, but that shouldn't deter him from sticking at catcher long term. He's a potential first-round pick in 2020.
Angels' Wilson, Knowles, Jackson Lead Pack Of Pioneer League Prospects
No. 15 overall pick Will Wilson will be part of a talented group of prospects in the Pioneer League
Evan Justice, LHP, North Carolina State (Class of 2020)
Justice was named the Virginia high school player of the year as a senior in 2017, and the following year he appeared in 16 games for N.C State as a freshman. Although he gave up one run in one inning of work on Friday, the lefthander showed promise on the mound.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore southpaw throws from a lower three-quarter arm slot with a slinging arm action, hanging just a tad during his delivery to mess with timing of hitters he faces. While it isn't a very fluid delivery, he was able to repeat his arm slot and keep the ball down during his outing.
He pitched mostly with a fastball-curveball combo for his one inning of work. The fastball clocked in the 87-89 mph range, topping out at 90 mph. His curveball lacked consistent shape for the most part, but he was able to throw a few that had 11-to-5 movement for strikes. By keeping most of his pitches down, he was able to generate two groundouts to help navigate himself through the inning.
Although very raw, Justice has some solid stuff to work with and should develop nicely for the Wolfpack.
Ron Washington Jr., OF/INF, Pittsburgh
Washington Jr. started in 51 of his club's 54 games in 2018 and was an Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman team member. He is a physical presence on the field and collected two hits with one walk and a run scored on Friday.
While he appeared at DH on Friday, the sophomore often patrols left or right field for Pittsburgh. He has a thick lower half with a strong upper body. His eye is good at the plate, taking breaking stuff out of the strike zone with relative ease. Although he bailed out with his lower half on a few swings, he did show above-average, opposite-field power, drilling a ball into the right-center field gap. He makes the most of his physical strength at the plate and has a quick trigger, with a natural feel for going to the opposite field.
Washington, who will be eligible for the 2020 draft, is a bigger player but runs the bases well once he gets going. There isn't much projection left in his body, but the physicality is what sticks out and allows him to have solid offensive impact.