With Kevin Gausman poised to seize a rotation slot, Dylan Bundy rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Mike Wright starting the year at Norfolk and Eduardo Rodriguez receiving big time preseason buzz, Tyler Wilson was probably sort of an afterthought in the minds of many Orioles fans. The 24 year old righthander began the season in the back end of team prospects lists that extended into the teens (John Sickels ranked him 19 in the system and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranked him 16). Cincinnati had selected Wilson in the 35th round of the 2010 MLB draft, but Wilson decided to return to UVA for his senior season. Did the move pay off? Not in a direct sense. Wilson was paid a $20,000 bonus which seems awfully small in comparison to the $575,000 paid to 26th rounder Zach Davies. There's perhaps a comparison to be made there, though, as both hurlers tend towards the smaller side and rely more on smarts than stuff, (and both could make their major league debuts next season) but more on Davies later in the series.
Wilson's climb through the ranks has been methodical, if unspectacular. His workload has gradually increased from 33 innings in his draft year, to 143, to 151.2 to 166.2 this past year and after splitting fourteen starts in the Gulf Coast League, Aberdeen and Delmarva in 2011 and 2012, has made about 30 starts at each ensuing level prior to reaching Norfolk this past season. Based on previous seasons, Wilson may expect to start 2015 in Norfolk unless he forces the issue in Spring Training. This sort of development schedule that should warm the hearts of folks that have criticized the rapid fire promotion approach applied to some past organizational assets.
Tyler Wilson pitched five scoreless outings between Bowie and Norfolk in 2014. Wilson actually pitched three of those outings at Norfolk, though clearly, his stint at Bowie was nothing to sneeze at. Wilson was awarded Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors in April when he walked four and struck out 18 in two outings at the end of the month. Wilson was promoted to Norfolk at the end of June after his best outing of the season (if Bill James's Game Score is to be believed). In that game, Wilson struck out nine, walked one and allowed two walks in seven innings for a Game Score of 81. For his efforts on the season, Wilson was awarded the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
Tyler Wilson's arsenal is based on a fastball that he commands well and sits upper 80s-low 90s. Wilson also employs a curve and a change. He's not really a groundball pitcher (he posted a 48.6% GB rate at Bowie in 16 starts this year which was only bested by a 51.1 rate over six starts at Delmarva in 2012), but he hasn't been particularly susceptible to the longball, either (his worst HR/9 for a full season has been 1.01). Wilson struck out nearly 25% of batters faced in 2012, but saw that number slide to 18.5% in 2013. Baseball America had graded Wilson as having the best control in the system when it compiled its list of Orioles top prospects in 2013, though the 2014 edition granted the distinction to Zach Davies.
By virtue of his 2014 performance twinned with the graduation of Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop, Tyler Wilson should see his standing improve among prospect list compilers. Due to his rule 5 eligibility, it's expected he'll be added to the 40 man roster and could be viewed at least as a dark horse candidate for the 2015 rotation.