Lakewood Spotlight: Aaron Wilson

For Aaron Wilson, moving up from Batavia to Lakewood came as a complete surprise, but he wasn't about to question the move. Instead, he moved along quietly, but his arrival at a higher level has brought on a new list of issues to deal with as he adjusts to professional baseball. Moving from the 24th round of the 2004 Draft to Lakewood has been tough, but Wilson is weathering it well.

Aaron Wilson entered the 2004 Draft with all of the necessary college credentials. At San Diego University, he ranked third in career starts (61), third in career wins (29) and eighth in career strikeouts (219). Add to that numerous league pitcher of the week awards and Wilson was ready for the draft. He also had a reputation for being a big game pitcher, being called upon to win key games for San Diego and in fact, won both of his post-season starts in 2003.

The only drawback that Wilson faced was that as a fifth year senior, he had no option to return to school. "I really had no leverage coming into the draft, so I kept my expectations pretty low," said Wilson. In fact, he kept them so low, that he was prepared to go undrafted and look to sign with a major league team as an amateur free agent. "The Phillies had shown the most interest in signing me, so it wasn't a surprise when they drafted me," said Wilson. While Wilson may have downplayed his expectations, the Phillies saw a pitcher with high potential and drafted Wilson in the 24th round.

The Phillies initially sent Wilson to Batavia in the New York – Penn League, which is home to most of the college players that the Phillies draft. That move wasn't surprising. What did come as a surprise was when Wilson was moved to Lakewood after pitching in just three games for Batavia. "They called me in and told me I was going to Lakewood and I was surprised, but I didn't argue. I just figured it would be a good opportunity for me," remembers Wilson. The Phillies believed that Wilson was ready for a higher level, especially since he was a fifth year senior when he was drafted. He had shown in college that he could handle challenges and the Phillies simply decided to give him another one.

While he had thrown six shutout innings at Batavia and recorded one save, Wilson quickly discovered that Lakewood was a different world. "The hitters really are better and you have to be more disciplined at this level," noted Wilson. Part of Wilson's struggle has been mechanical. "I've been dropping down too much and I really just haven't found a comfort zone since I've been here (Lakewood)," said Wilson. "It's coming along though. I'm working on things one step at a time."

The work is paying off. Wilson, by all reports, is starting to find that comfort zone and has started to settle in with the process at Lakewood. Wilson now has 15 innings of Class A ball on his arm and has gone 0-2, 4.20 for the BlueClaws. Control has been an issue (9 walks / 11 strikeouts), but that's all part of the mechanical issues that Wilson has encountered. In his final season at San Diego, Wilson walked 30 in 166 1/3 innings of work, so control has not been much of an issue for Wilson throughout his career.

The Phillies knew that Wilson didn't have the leverage of heading back to college as some young players in the draft do and that may have played in their favor. While Wilson had little other choice than to sign with the Phillies, he did wind up in an organization where he has gotten noticed quickly. The Phillies were impressed with Wilson's college numbers and more impressed with his personality and work ethic. In Aaron Wilson, the Phillies found a young pitcher that they could basically just hand the ball to and let him do his job. There have been some rough adjustments to life in Lakewood, but Wilson is weathering them and seems to have it all under control. It will be interesting to see where the Phillies start Wilson in 2005. Will it be a return to Lakewood or a promotion to Clearwater? It's likely that Wilson's performance in the Florida Instructional League will be a good part of the determining factor. Of course, a quick stay at Lakewood with another quick promotion to the next level wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities.

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