South Alabama's Ethan Wilson On The Honor The Game League, Being Home
South Alabama outfielder Ethan Wilson was slated to play in the Cape Cod League this summer.
After hitting .345/.453/.686 with 17 home runs as a freshman, which helped catapult him firmly into the discussion as a potential first-round pick in 2021, the expectation was that Wilson would enjoy another standout season as a sophomore in 2020 and then head off to the Cape for the biggest showcase opportunity of his college career.
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Unfortunately, the Cape season was canceled back in April, which left Wilson and everyone else committed to the league without a place to play. Thankfully, he already had a back-up plan in place in the event of a Cape cancellation.
“Joe Caruso sent me a text. He founded the East Coast Sox organization,” Wilson said. “He was like ‘hey, would you be willing to play in a wood bat league if we were able to find enough guys to play?’ I just told him that I would for sure be willing to as long as the Cape were to get canceled. It was kind of cool knowing that no matter what happened with the Cape, I had some type of ball to play this summer. It really just happened out of the blue.”
The Honor the Game League, as Caruso's league is known, got Wilson back out on the field, even if games take place just two days a week and it’s not quite the same intensity level as the Cape.
After a long, strange spring with no baseball, it was a welcome development, but that’s not to say that Wilson didn’t see silver linings in being home from campus a little prematurely.
“I’m not happy that our season got canceled, but I’m also grateful for this time I have with my family,” Wilson said. “Being home, I’m starting to work with some kids, so it’s good seeing them every day and just being around people that I wouldn’t be able to be around at this time. So I’m just trying to have a positive outlook on it. All things in consideration, I have it a lot better than most people do right now.”
Wilson might not have gotten the chance to showcase his talents in front of droves of scouts on the Cape, but he doesn’t need that chance as much as others, because at this stage, he’s well-established as a top prospect to watch in 2021.
The power is very present, as shown by his home run output as a freshman, but less obvious is that he’s also a plus runner, which has inspired confidence that he’ll be able to stick in center field moving forward.
It’s extremely tough to find fault with what Wilson has done at South Alabama so far, even as he got off to a bit of a slow start by his standards in 2020, but he’s clear about what he’s working on now.
“My approach. I’ve been working on that some more because my freshman year, I had a lot more strikeouts than walks, so that’s one area of my game that I need to improve in,” Wilson said. “Just being a better teammate all around. Just not getting so caught up in myself and the draft, but just worrying more about South Alabama and what we could do as a team this year.”
Wilson will be part of an intriguing South Alabama lineup in 2021. He’ll be the centerpiece of it, but he’ll have plenty of help thanks to the return of catcher Reid Powers, outfielder Michael Sandle and shortstop Santi Montiel.
That lineup will keep the Jags in games no matter who they run out on the mound, but if they can build an improved pitching staff around that group, they’ll be particularly dangerous.
“All those guys that have been through it,” Wilson said of what has him excited about the 2021 Jaguars. “They’ve been through the ups, they’ve been through the downs, and we just know how to handle whatever situation that comes at us. I think that excites me the most.”