Josh Wilson: 2005 Second-Rounder Done at 21

St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Josh Wilson was placed on the restricted list late last month. The 21-year-old Texan has retired, representing yet another pitching disappointment from the second round of the Cards' 2005 draft.

On one hand, it was a surprise – the in-season retirement of a promising young pitcher, still having not reached his 22nd birthday. Yet, understanding Josh Wilson's history, maybe it isn't all that surprising, after all.

Over his last three outings, most recently on July 24, the right-hander had struggled, yielding 16 runs in 12 innings with the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits, but in his six outings prior to that, Wilson had pitched very well, posting a 2.35 ERA over 30.2 innings. Overall in 2008, he went 1-5 with a 4.21 ERA in the Midwest League.

Taken by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2005 draft (70th overall) as a high schooler, Wilson received a bonus in excess of $500,000 to pass up a scholarship to the University of Texas and play professional baseball.

The 2005 draft was Jeff Luhnow's first at the helm. The organization was stocked with six picks in the first two rounds. Their first-round selections were position players Colby Rasmus (high school) and Tyler Greene (college).

Four pitchers then joined the organization in the flurry of activity in the supplemental rounds for compensation purposes as well as via the second round itself. Mark McCormick (college) was taken, then high school pitchers Tyler Herron and Wilson and finally college hurler Nick Webber, all added by pick number 78 overall.

Webber was released last month, while Herron and McCormick are with A-Advanced Palm Beach, each struggling to make the jump to Double-A. The two hitters are at Triple-A.

As in the case of McCormick, Wilson's relatively short professional career was dogged by injury, as he seemingly spent more time rehabbing than actually on the mound.

Wilson missed most of 2006 due to surgery to repair a torn labrum. Last season, he did not pitch in spring training and only a few innings in extended spring training before landing on the disabled list. After cortisone shots and a rehab attempt, Wilson tossed just eight innings over three games before his shoulder required arthroscopic surgery again last July.

Overall in parts of four professional seasons, Wilson registered a 4-10 record with a 4.81 ERA, appearing in 33 games, 28 starts. He fanned 90 and walked 49 in 142.2 professional innings.

By placing Wilson on the restricted list, the Cardinals organization can maintain their rights to him, in case he decides to return later on.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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