Braves Prospect Profile: Bryse Wilson
The Atlanta Braves have leaned heavily on pitching to execute what is now a four-year rebuilding plan. Nowhere has that been more apparent than in the June amateur draft. Though first-round picks typically attract the most attention, it was a fourth-rounder from 2016 that may have been the breakout pitching prospect in the system last season.
Bryse Wilson, 20, was selected out of Orange High School in Hillsborough, N.C., where he was a two-sport star and one of the state’s top prep prospects. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder has a fastball in the low-mid 90s and took great strides establishing the rest of his arsenal for Rome last season.
He finished 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA that ranked second in the South Atlantic League. Wilson struck out 139 batters against just 39 walks across his 137 innings as well. That performance silenced the contingent that may have felt Wilson could be better suited to be a reliever.
Perhaps the best performance of his season came on July 8, 2017, when he fired a 9-inning shut-out at West Virginia. Wilson surrendered five hits with no walks and struck out seven while using a career-high 105 pitches to finish the gem. One month to the day later, Wilson racked up a career-best 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings against Augusta.
I had a chance to catch up with Wilson at the close of spring training to get his thoughts on the 2017 campaign and what he hopes to accomplish this season, beginning in the High-A Florida State League.
Grant McAuley: You had a really productive first full season. Now that you’ve had a chance to look back on all that and reflect, what are your memories and takeaways from 2017?
Bryse Wilson: I think the biggest memory was the complete game. That was a lot of fun, but I think a lot of the takeaways were all the things I learned by being with the guys I was with and just having a good time.
GM: It was a great starting staff for Rome (Wilson, Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz). How does that comradery and even the competion amongst the guys benefit you?
BW: It’s nice because it helps everybody to be a little bit more comfortable. We all get along. We all help each other and push each other and want the best from each other. It’s just great to have all these guys around and be able to work with them every day.
GM: Walk me through the winter for you. It came after throwing the most innings in any season of your life. How did you approach the time off?
BW: For me, it was a lot of rest. I took about two weeks off from lifting and then got back into it. I started throwing in late December and got back into that. It was a good offseason.
GM: Spring training is all wrapped up. How’d it feel getting back on the mound and facing live hitting again?
BW: I’m just feeling good. Stuff feels good and I’m learning to pitch a lot better, with more command. I think I’m just trying to have another good season like I did last year and just keep pitching and put my team in the best position to win.
GM: You mentioned pitching with more command. That’s obviously a focus. Are there any other things, whether it’s mechanically or mentally, that you’re looking to improve?
BW: I’m just trying to get more consistent with everything. You know, location. Just throwing the slider and changeup and being able to replicate those. Throw them on both sides of the plate and be able to be more consistent so I can pretty much throw whatever pitch whenever I want.
Wilson made his 2018 debut on Monday for the Florida Fire Frogs. Working on a pitch count of 65, he fired 3 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out five. Though he did allow five hits, a walk and a hit batsman, Wilson kept Fort Myers off the board.
The new Braves front office appears to be taking a more cautious approach when it comes to rapidly promoting prospects. With success in Florida, Wilson figures to reach Double-A Mississippi at some point this sesaon and he could be closing in on SunTrust Park before 2019 comes to a close.