Don’t look now, but Justin Wilson may be heating up a bit early this season.
Wilson made his professional debut in 2009 with the Lynchburg Hillcats. The placement was considered aggressive for several reasons. First, Wilson was just out of college, so the jump to high-A immediately is the extreme. Second, Wilson was a fifth round draft choice, held out all summer in 2008, and as a result, didn’t play at all for the final few months of the season. So even in addition to the aggressive placement, you’ve got a guy who is a little rusty.
Wilson started off with some struggles in Lynchburg. From April to the end of June he pitched 53.1 innings, with a 6.58 ERA, a 7.9 K/9 ratio, and a 4.7 BB/9 ratio. Wilson was skipped over for a start at the end of June, and from that point he turned his season around. From July to the end of the 2009 season, Wilson pitched 62.2 innings, with a 2.73 ERA, a 6.7 K/9, and a 3.9 BB/9 ratio.
Wilson started off with some struggles in his first few games at the AA level in 2010. In his first three starts, he combined for a 6.57 ERA, an 8.0 K/9, and a 7.3 BB/9 ratio. It should be noted that his main problem came on two horrible starts against Erie, with a combined 7.1 innings of work, allowing eight runs, nine walks, and striking out seven. Wilson didn’t have any trouble in his first start of the year against Richmond, allowing one run in five innings, with a walk and four strikeouts.
Wilson was skipped over after his third start of the season. From that point forward he has been excellent. In three outings since being skipped in the rotation, Wilson has pitched 16 innings, with a 1.69 ERA, an 8.4 K/9 and a 3.9 BB/9 ratio. Even better, one of those starts was against Erie, in which he allowed one run in six innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Wilson has struggled at times with his command of the strike zone. As we saw in the second half of 2009, and as we have seen in the last few outings, when Wilson commands the strike zone, he can be a dominant pitcher. Wilson continued that dominance tonight, going six innings, with one run on three hits, walking two and striking out six. That gives him a 13:4 K/BB ratio in 12 innings over the last two starts, with only two runs allowed. If Wilson keeps this up, he could find himself in AAA by the end of the season, and possibly in the majors sometime in 2011.