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Friday, December 9, 2022

Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #14 – Justin Wilson

The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Jin-De Jhang, C

19. Andrew Oliver, LHP

18. Vic Black, RHP

17. Adrian Sampson, RHP

16. Wyatt Mathisen, C

15. Bryan Morris, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 14 prospect, Justin Wilson.

Justin Wilson
Justin Wilson

14. Justin Wilson, LHP

Wilson’s first jump to the Triple-A level led to some struggles, and an eventual move to the bullpen to work on his control issues. The lefty finished the 2011 season in the bullpen, although the move wasn’t permanent. The Pirates moved Wilson back to the rotation to start the 2012 season, and sent him back to Triple-A.

After starting off with some poor control numbers in April, Wilson switched to more of an overhead delivery, aimed at keeping his body under control and making it easier to repeat his delivery. The new approach worked for a while, cutting down on his walks. The first start with the delivery led to a combined no-hitter, with Wilson throwing 7.1 no-hit innings with two walks and nine strikeouts. As the season progressed, the control issues started to re-appear.

Wilson has some of the best stuff in the system, but his control issues limit his upside. He throws a 92-96 MPH fastball as a starter, and has hit 99 as a reliever in the past. He also throws a curveball, slider, and changeup, with his curve being his best off-speed pitch.

The Pirates moved him back to the bullpen at the end of the 2012 season so that they could use him as an additional lefty out of the major league bullpen in September. His control problems limit his upside, but they exist as a starter and as a reliever, so there’s no benefit to moving him to the bullpen full time.

If Wilson could ever gain control, he’d be a strong number two starter. That’s a huge “if”, and almost impossible at this point. Even with the poor control, his stuff could make him a solid number four starter or a power left-handed reliever. He could get a crack at the majors during Spring Training. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, the best approach would be to keep him in the rotation, where he’d provide more value.

Click Here to Purchase the Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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Dean Manifest

How bout this….

Wilson eases into the big leagues in the pen. The risk to the team should he struggle with control is minimized, as opposed to forcing the bullpen to absorb 6-7 innings of a lost-cause game. And Wilson gets to take baby steps.

Then, if and when Wilson establishes himself as an effective reliever, we stretch him out and give him a shot in the rotation in the tradition of CJ Wilson, Lance Lynn and Kris Medlen.

Any thoughts?


It sounds like a good plan, but my personal opinion is that Wilson is just never going to have good enough control to be a starter. His 4.50 BB/9 rate is nothing new — goes all the way back to his time at Fresno State.

Wilson is also going to get caught in a numbers game. Not only are his contemporaries of Locke/McPherson ahead of him, but you have Cole/Taillon behind him. To say nothing of the McDonalds/Lirianos/Mortons/Irwins of the world.

Lee Young

Personally, his ‘at worst’ sounds like what we’d get from Liriano. Because of his upside, I would want him given a chance in the rotation.

Ian Rothermund

Oops…try number two.

I agree, I think out of the three; McPherson, Locke, and Wilson, that while there is likely to be more consistency from the first two, respectively. However, there seems to be so much more upside with Wilson. I think numbers wise, he could be comparable to average #4 or 5 starters in the league today. The different is, most of those guys don’t have the stuff that Wilson does. Then, if you catch him on a day when his command is better, less than 3 walks I’d say, watch out.

Ian Rothermund

Wow…really difficult to proofread on an iPhone…that’s not a good advertisement. I think I conveyed my point well enough to get it across though.

Ian Rothermund

I agree. I think

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