TCN 2016 Cardinals Prospect #20: Jacob Wilson

The infielder led the entire system in home runs and tied in RBI, but may be blocked from St. Louis.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: University of Memphis

2015 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
14 2B 07,27,90 5-11 180 R R 2012 10th

Selected 2015 stats

Mem 0.231 0.256 307 41 71 14 11 56 23 68 2 0.304 0.292 0.391 0.683
Spr 0.225 0.222 120 18 27 6 7 21 17 25 0 0.350 0.326 0.450 0.776
total 0.230   427 59 98 20 18 77 40 93 2   0.302 0.407 0.710

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (26): At #26, Jacob Wilson finished quite a bit lower in the community vote than where the others placed him. Ironically, Wilson finished at #20 in the community vote last year.

CovingtonTiger was the first poster to pick Wilson in this year’s prospect vote when he tabbed him at #19. CovingtonTiger was especially fond of Wilson playing hurt part of the year and managing to play three infield positions.

Desmetlax12 also likes Wilson. He called him his wild card, explaining that he likes pop from a second baseman. CariocaCardinal was surprised that Wilson hadn’t received any votes yet when we were discussing the #17 prospect. Freshjmm posted that Wilson’s bat should play as a useful utility infielder, but noted that he thinks Wilson has the lowest ceiling of the players we were thinking about voting for at the time. BobReed mentioned that Wilson forgot how to hit for average, but the 25-year-old still showed excellent pop for a possible major league bench guy going forward, if only for a few hundred at-bats even. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore (17): Originally drafted out of University of Memphis as an infielder in the 10th round, Wilson has now been a Cardinal for four years, including his brief draft year. He has placed within The Cardinal Nation's top 20 for the second straight winter. Last year, Wilson was 14th prospect in The Cardinal Nation’s final rankings.

Wilson told me that 2015 was his most memorable as a member of the organization. From receiving his first big-league invite as well as being one of the final cuts to leading the organization with 18 home runs and tied for first with 77 RBI and capping it off with solid Pan-Am Games performance as part of the U.S. team.

"Overall, this season was productive," said Wilson. "I had my ups and downs, but that's how I am learning to prepare for next year."

Wilson, 25, has lately been groomed as a utility man playing second and third base mostly while seeing limited time in left field and at first base. With an aggressive approach, the right-handed hitter prefers swinging early in counts that didn't necessarily affect his walks (40 walks in 123 games in 2015 compared to 57 walks in 129 games in his first full season). But he feels he got away from himself and tried to do too much as of a result.

"I don't think me being aggressive hindered my performance this season," Wilson said. He described his approach as slightly changing depending on the situation. "There were times where I tended to be over aggressive, but that's when I took a step back and realized what was going wrong and got back to my approach.

"The more consistent I can make my setup and approach the more walks I will draw and the fewer strikeouts I will have," he concluded.

Obviously, right-handed power is a hot commodity. Wilson possesses over-the-fence power and projects as a solid-average to slightly above-average player at the big-league level. Although with recent acquisition of Jedd Gyorko makes it tough to figure how he will fit into the Cardinals plan. The latter is under contract through 2019 with a team option for 2020 which undoubtedly makes Wilson expendable to an extent.

From this interview posted recently, Wilson seems very focused on preparing himself this off-season and is kicking the tires for his chance at the big-league level. In 2016, I expect Wilson to play every day with the Memphis Redbirds while hopefully playing a little more first base and outfield.

Brian Walton (17): Derek mentioned it, but I feel the need to call attention to it again. Of all the players in the entire Cardinals system in 2015, Wilson not only hit the most home runs, his RBI total also tied for first.

You can look at this one of two ways. Wilson was clearly a productive hitter despite a sub-par batting average and a sharply-down second half of the season. The fact that he topped the system in both categories does not indicate a lot of good about his 100-plus peer hitters in full-season ball, however.

In fact, Wilson’s totals are the worst for the Cardinals system leader in at least the last two decades, and probably more.

However, this is not a treatise on the declining state of power hitting and production across the upper levels of the Cardinals system. (I went into that in much more deal in this members-only article, “Where Are the Cardinals’ Minors Power Hitters?”.)

With that point having been made, let’s return to Wilson.

I asked Cardinals minor league hitting coordinator Derrick May what contributed to Wilson’s slowdown later in the season. Some of it is technical and some mental.

“He is almost hitting with his legs too much,” May said. “We are trying to get him in a more comfortable hitting position. He was probably adjusting to the league, too. And that is something that happens sometimes when you make that jump from Double-A to Triple-A. You’ve got to make some adjustments. They adjusted to him and now, he’s got to do it back. It is just a matter of experience and playing. He has been kind of a slow starter and he got off to a fast start (in 2015), but it is kind of a cat and mouse game that he went through. He will be more prepared next year.”

For a while, it seemed like Wilson’s next year might have been in another organization.

Despite his 2015 results and having open spots on their 40-man roster, the Cardinals left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft 10 days ago. Yet, proving their point to an extent, none of the other 29 teams saw Wilson as being able to stick on their Major League rosters in 2016, either – so he was not taken, passed over in the Rule 5.

I imagine the Cardinals are pleased about that turn of events, having Wilson back for another season to help anchor the Memphis offense. However, his chances of getting meaningful playing time in St. Louis look to be completely outside of his control – likely dependent on injuries to others.

Wilson is clearly behind Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia in the current infield reserve pecking order and it is still unclear whether St. Louis will even have roster room for Garcia to open the season. Then there is the rebirth of Aledmys Diaz, who currently has some momentum in his favor, not to mention the 40-man roster spot that Wilson does not. Wilson will need to keep hitting in Memphis and wait for an opportunity that may or may not come in 2016.

Our 2016 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

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