The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects list to be rolled out shortly but this year we have decided to change things up by also handing out a few honourable mentions before the actual list is unveiled. Today we will be looking at a player that many expected to have a breakthrough campaign in 2013, outfielder Kenny Wilson.
Name: Kenny Wilson
Position: Center Field
Date of Birth: 01/30/1990
Acquired: Selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 MLB Draft ($644,000 signing bonus)
High School: Sickles HS (Tampa, FL)
Height/Weight: 5’10″/185 lbs.
Minor League Stats and Analysis
|Rk (3 seasons)||Rk||232||33||41||8||3||0||13||28||5||25||70||.209||.320||.281||.601|
|A (3 seasons)||A||1220||173||234||35||13||8||89||113||31||130||286||.227||.332||.309||.641|
|A+ (4 seasons)||A+||401||54||79||17||2||1||28||37||8||40||90||.228||.322||.297||.618|
|AA (1 season)||AA||242||31||56||14||1||3||11||16||6||19||56||.259||.333||.375||.708|
He didn’t have a great start to his minor league career but has started to make some noticeable improvements the past two seasons. He’s always been a plus defender and speed remains his biggest asset.
Wilson started experimenting as a switch-hitter early in his minor league career but struggled as a lefty, which led to him batting exclusively from the right side since 2012. The change helped him improve his contact and also helped him cut down on the strikeouts. He will never be known as a power bat but batting exclusively right-handed has allowed him to hit with slightly more authority as well.
He unfortunately suffered an injury that forced him to miss much of his first season at Double-A. It was especially disappointing because many people were hoping for a breakthrough campaign from Wilson. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League for what I’m assuming was an audition to see if the Blue Jays would protect him from the Rule 5 draft by adding him to the 40-man roster (they did). It was his fifth season in the minors but he also missed time in 2011 due to season-ending shoulder surgery. This led to him returning to Lansing before he was called back up for what would be his third stint with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays in July 2012.
Wilson’s put up a .338 BABIP this year for the Fisher Cats and his plus speed leads to his BABIP significantly outpacing his batting average year after year. He doesn’t hit for much power but did have 14 doubles, one triple and three home runs in 242 plate appearances at Double-A.
Video courtesy of rkyosh007.
Swing Mechanics/Tools Breakdown
Wilson maintains a wide base during his set-up. He has a noticeable weight transfer but keeps his front foot on the ground before giving a slight tap to put himself in hitting position. He appears to have quieted down his lower body slightly compared to video from last year when he showed a bit more of a leg kick.
He still strikes out too often and doesn’t walk enough, which to me says that his plate discipline still needs work but he does show great extension. Scouts have said they like his instincts and bat control.
As I mentioned earlier, speed is Wilson’s biggest asset. It allows him to cover a tonne of ground in center field and also makes him a terror on the base paths. He’s considered to have relatively average arm strength.
Questions remain if his bat will be good enough play at the MLB level. He’s a contact hitter and doesn’t have much power but his incredible speed allows him to turn singles into doubles (and doubles into triples).
2014 Risk, Outlook, and ETA
Wilson was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft but I wouldn’t expect to see him playing with the big league club in 2014. With Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar and Moises Sierra already ahead of him on the depth chart he may very well start the year again in Double-A with New Hampshire. Depending on how the Blue Jays decide to manage their young outfielders he could also be moved up to Buffalo at some point in 2014.
Missed time has slowed his progress but at 23 there’s still reason to remain hopeful that Wilson might eventually break through. The fact that he’s hitting better at the higher levels is promising as he faced good competition in both Double-A and the AFL this year.
However he still strikes out too often and had a 29.1% K rate in the AFL this year (23.1% in NH). Wilson could eventually project as a defensive center fielder but if he does make it to the Show may find himself limited to a fourth outfielder role unless he continues to make strides with his swing.
He remains a bit of a project but has also made a fair amount of progress the past two seasons. Time may be running out for the speedy center fielder but Kenny Wilson remains a prospect within the Blue Jays organization who is worth keeping an eye on.