Pittsburgh Pirates: Advanced Approach helping Eli Wilson Lead Marauders in Slugging

Photo Credit: gopher sports.com

The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the season without a legitimate catching prospect in the system, but in the lowest level of the minors there is not one but two players performing in a way that should excite fans.

While Endy Rodriguez is the player that is mentioned first when it comes to talking about prospects, for just cause, Eli Wilson has given the Bradenton Marauders an 1-2 punch at the position the Pirates are searching for someone to emerge at.

Wilson, the son of former major league catcher Dan Wilson, was the Pirates 16th round pick during the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Minnesota where he posted an .825 OPS in his three years there. His junior year Wilson was the Golden Gophers biggest offensive threat, hitting 22 extra base hits (15 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR), driving in 29 runs and scoring 32 of his own.

He signed quickly and made his way to Bristol and was named a part of the Pirates' Organizational All-Star roster on MiLB.com as the system's top performing catcher. While with Bristol, Wilson batted to a line of .234/.356/.366, with four home runs and 20 RBIs.

Despite being relatively new behind the plate, made the switch upon arriving on campus at Minnesota, Wilson threw out an impressive 39% of would be base stealers.

That success hasn't quite carried over this season (9% currently) but he has the athleticism (was a shortstop before hand), and pedigree (dad played catcher for 14 years in the majors, and was an All-Star in 1996).

There hasn't been any denying his bat this season, as Wilson has gotten off to strong start to the season despite sharing time behind the plate with Rodriguez.

With their latest series in the books, winning four of six against the Daytona Tortugas, Wilson leads a very offensively strong Marauders roster in OPS (On-base plus Slugging percentage) with a 1.092 mark.

He has also posted a .362 batting average and has shown a great approach at the plate, walking more (17) than he is striking out (14).

In a three game span at the end of May (20-26), Wilson went 7-of-11, scored six runs, doubled twice, drove in three runs, walked three times and struck out just twice.

May 30 he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a double, home run, five RBIs and two walks.

More recently, Wilson capped a comeback victory against Daytona with a walk off single in the bottom of the ninth on the 11th. 

Having Wilson on the roster has also allowed the Marauders to take advantage of Rodriguez's athleticism and play him at first base occassionaly when Will Matthiessen was promoted to Greensboro.

Speaking of the next level, seeing the success of Wilson offensively the Pirates could begin to consider advancing him up to the Grasshoppers. Greensboro catchers have hit a combined .204 this season, with Grant Koch (.253/.313/.379) getting the majority of the playing time.

The current Greensboro catching position has struggled to hit, but have controlled the bases well, throwing out a collective 33% of potential base stealers. Wilson has struggled this year, but he showed off his potential a year ago, throwing out 39% in Bristol.

Either way, Bradenton's lineup is so good there literally aren't enough spots in the lineup for everyone to get enough playing time. Wilson has the most advanced approach to the plate, and Greensboro could certainly use a little extra pop at the position.

What have you thought about Wilson's start to the season? Do you feel like he has done enough to get a shot in Greensboro? Or should he keep getting in playing time with Bradenton? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.

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