With his three recent home runs, Josh Wilson is hot! news. Largely ignored when he was acquired and called up, who is Josh Wilson and does he offer anything long term?
Josh Wilson was drafted in the third round by the Florida Marlins during the 99 draft, three picks before Justin Morneau and nine picks before the amazing Willie Bloomquist. He performed well in Rookie and Short Season A ball leading to playing in A ball at the age of 19 for two weeks and for a full season at 2001. That year, at age 20, Wilson posted a .285/.325/.383 line which is pretty underwhelming, but coming off a combined .868 OPS the year before and still toiling at short stop, there was enough promise for the Marlins to start Wilson at High A in 2002. Despite the promotion, Wilson essentially repeated his 2001 numbers in the higher level and earned himself an end of the season promotion to Double A Portland. Wilson finished the year with an astounding 13 home runs.
2003 saw Wilson repeat Double A for the entire year and fall off the map with a .665 OPS. He second go around in 2004 through produced an .882 OPS with 10 home runs in just 81 games and he made his way up to Triple-A for the first time where he has since spent time every single year except 2007. 2004 and 2005 saw Wilson post a .750 OPS, but in Albuquerque, a notorious launching pad in the PCL.
Wilson was sent to Colorado in the 2005-2006 offseason as part of a conditional deal and sent to Colorado Springs where he posted another inflated Triple-A line and then granted free agency and signed by the Nationals where he got into 15 games and managed a lone hit in 25 plate appearances. He was then selected off waivers by the Rays in May where he played in 90 regular games with a .644 OPS.
The journeying continued that winter being picked off by the Pirates on waivers where he would be until August of 2008 when he was again part of a conditional deal, this time to Boston for two months and then granted free agency yet again and signed by Arizona this past offseason.
2009 AND BEYOND?
Wilson has played for Arizona, San Diego (of course!) and Seattle this season with samples too small to pin anything down. And that has sort of been the mark on Wilson for the past five years, moving around so often that it's tough to get a real statistical read on him. But if anything, the constant moving around tells you how teams feel about Josh Wilson.
All told, we have a 415 plate appearance sample of Wilson at the big leagues between 2007 and 2009 that tells us what we already knew originally with our indifference, he doesn't hit the ball hard very often (low % of line drives), he's about average on plate patience and makes contact a good percentage of the time, but teams are unafraid of his power ability and are going to pump him strikes, making it difficult for him to draw walks.
Fielding-wise, his 2007 UZR was terrible at short, but his UZR at second and his 2009 UZR at short are essentially neutral. Problem is, again, really small samples and a scouting report would really be useful to complement the data available.
Overall package? Unless something dramatically changes or reveals itself with more playing time (unlikely), Wilson has too little pop to be a productive hitter and his upside with the glove is probably that of an average defender at short. Basically, and his movement around the league further attests to this, Josh Wilson defines what a replacement level player is. He might be useful to have hanging around in Tacoma for instances such as Jack Wilson going on the disabled list, but Josh Wilson should play no prominent role in the 2010 Mariners.
Interestingly, Wilson has on three occasions, once with Tampa, once with Arizona and once with San Diego, pitched an inning in relief. He flashes a mid-80s fastball, a curve and a changeup!