SF Giants top prospects: No. 11 — SS Will Wilson
Highest Level: Rookie (AZL)
Acquired: Trade (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 40+
When the Angels signed Anthony Rendon to a massive seven-year, $245MM contract last offseason, Los Angeles wanted to save money on the rest of their payroll. With just one year left on his contract, infielder Zack Cozart’s salary was one of the easier to move. To entice the Giants to take Cozart’s contract off their hands, the Angels packaged him with Will Wilson.
The Angels selected Wilson with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft. A consensus first-round pick, the opportunity to acquire a prospect of that caliber without giving up a top asset is almost unheard of. Naturally, that came with a cost.
The Giants officially acquired Cozart and Wilson for upper-minor league southpaw Garrett Williams. Cozart was released shortly after the transaction, effectively making the trade Williams and about $13.3M for Wilson.
Wilson isn’t as toolsy as one might expect from a first-round pick and that probably made it easier for the Angels to part with him. With that said, Wilson was an extremely strong performer in college and was particularly favorited by teams more reliant on statistical models.
Scouts don’t think Wilson has star upside, but he has a potential 55 hit and power tool. His glove won’t make or break his career, but even if he stalls out defensively, he has a decent chance to be an above-average everyday player. His defense at short improved substantially over his collegiate career, but his defensive future is still uncertain. According to one industry source, “[He’s got a] chance to be an offensive second baseman who can spell at short.”
While reading into pro debut’s is always a bit difficult. Wilson’s play last summer left a lot to be desired. In 205 plate appearances with the Angels Arizona Rookie League affiliate, he managed an underwhelming .275/.328/.439 triple-slash line even with substantial batted-ball luck (.343 BABIP). Most concerningly, he struck out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances.
On the surface, those numbers don’t stand out, but it’s rare for top collegiate prospects to appear in rookie ball for more than a week and even rarer for them not to dominate the competition.
Wilson still gets rave character reviews from insiders and was young for his class. Still, his full-season debut was going to be one of the more interesting developments this season. Had he continued to struggle at Augusta (or San Jose), Wilson’s stock would have lost a good amount of value. At the same time, a strong showing would have made it easy to explain the rookie-league performance as a side-effect of playing pro ball so soon after a draining college season.
The Giants invited Wilson to the team’s 60-man summer camp and he will get a valuable challenge against the periphery of the organization’s big-league roster and top prospects. While losing the minor league season will be a substantial amount of lost reps, Wilson has a chance to move very quickly if he is back on track.