In the 2018 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres selected Steven Wilson with the 231st overall pick. Over the last three years, Wilson has steadily moved through the system and is currently the Padres’ 21st best prospect. While San Diego missed the playoffs in 2021, Wilson moved closer to the majors.
Before becoming a Padre, Wilson dealt with his fair share of adversity. During his collegiate career at Santa Clara University, he underwent Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the 2017 season. He returned in 2018 and excelled as a sixth-year senior before a draft day he would never forget.
“Draft day was kind of wild,” said Wilson. “I had talked to a few teams, but I was a little older, so I didn’t know what was going to happen. My agent and I were expecting to get the call on the second day, which is usually when a lot of seniors are signed. I was with my roommate in college, and I got the update on my phone first. Then they announced it on the live broadcast, and we freaked out. It was a long time coming.”
While the right-hander struggled in his first taste of pro ball, he bounced back in 2019. Between two levels, Wilson posted a 2.67 ERA in 42 appearances. The Colorado native held opponents to a .200 average and struck out 85 batters in 64 innings of work. Working solely out of the bullpen for the first time, he became a prospect to keep an eye on.
— Jamie Gatlin (@JamieGatlin17) November 24, 2021
Wilson Becomes a Reliever
“It was kind of a blessing in disguise and a forced transition,” said Wilson. “I started in college until my last year because I was coming back from Tommy John Surgery. After coming out of the bullpen I went back to starting but would only go two to three innings on Friday nights. Towards the end of the season, however, I went back to the bullpen because I was on an innings limit. I enjoy being ready for every game and not waiting a week to pitch.”
After adjusting to his new role, Wilson got to experience his first Spring Training in 2020. The 27-year-old pitched two innings before Spring Training was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Padres, however, continued to show faith in him by inviting him to their Alternate Training site.
“My first Spring Training was a lot of fun, and I got to pitch twice. I was able to see how the veterans go about their business and pick their brains. It’s important for young players to get that experience and see how to prepare for an MLB season.”
Although the 2022 season faces uncertainty, Wilson has stayed sharp in the Dominican Winter League. Over ten appearances, he did not allow a run while striking out 14 batters. The Padres reliever also showed excellent control by only allowing three hits and walking one batter. His second stint in the Dominican has been an experience he will never forget.
” It’s the best. I love it down here,” said Wilson. “Last year we didn’t have fans. It’s different and has more of a college football feel. It’s constant energy, and you’ll score a run or have a big strikeout, and fans go crazy regardless of the situation.”
Following an impressive stint for the Leones del Escogido, his focus has shifted to 2022. Wilson will be looking to build on a solid 2021 season, where he posted a 3.43 ERA in Triple-A.
“I’m always trying to improve my game, I added a changeup this year, and I’ve been working on using that more against right-handed hitters, so I have a three-pitch mix against both. Trusting my stuff has and will be key to my success.”
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