With the first of their two third-round selections, the Mets took Lousiana prep outfielder Ivan Wilson. Wilson jumps out at you immediately. He looks like an athlete, standing 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and the frame brings plenty of strength with it. He’s also a very good runner, possessing above average speed--he also played wide receiver for his high school--to go along with a strong outfield arm.
At the plate, Wilson brings plenty of raw power that confuses scouts because it hasn’t yet translated to games. You’ll find a couple of reasons why when you watch him swing. First of all, his swing can sometimes be just too flat. Loading his hands higher is one way to force a player to introduce more of an uppercut to his swing, and it might be especially wise advice for Wilson, whose current load is so deep that it bars his arms, preventing him from adjusting to pitches on the fly. Second, he just needs to get his timing down. The swing is simple and compact and smooth most of the time, and it is actually very rotational. But sometimes he rotates his hips too early, and he doesn’t always do a good job regulating his stride, both of which force Wilson’s arms to do all the work. As time goes by, Wilson will hopefully get a better feel for his swing and figure out how to time its parts better. But I reiterate that all the elements of a proper rotational swing are there.
It’s also important not to expect a polished product at the plate. Like many raw hitters, Wilson hasn’t seen many good breaking balls yet, and it will take time to discover whether he has the aptitude to pick them up. Plate discipline in general could be an issue.
His fielding is another question mark. Right now, I feel confident that he can handle center for the time being. He has enough speed to run from gap-to-gap, but he’s also not a burner. The speed is only above average, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up just average on the basepaths, which could force him to a corner spot. He has enough arm strength to handle right adequately, which is a plus, and I think he could be an above average defender there with time.
Power development is going to make or break Wilson’s career. I don’t think he has enough contact ability in his bat--though if he simplifies his swing a little more and improves his pitch recognition, it’s not an impossibility-- to make it to the big leagues without power, especially considering his defense doesn’t figure to be an asset even if he stays in center. But if he can get his body working with the swing, and if that results in more balls sailing into the gaps and over the fence, he could be a very useful starting outfielder. But no matter what, he won’t be a fast mover, and it could be four or more (probably more) years before this pick begins to pay dividends.
Wilson doesn’t have a college commitment, though there were rumors that he might be difficult to sign despite it. I think third-round money gets a deal done.