Speaking back in January during his media session at the Winter Warm-Up, Jacob Wilson had a very clear understanding of what he hoped to accomplish in Spring Training this year.
“I want to go in and show that I can do it,” he said. “I can practice it all I want, but if I don’t go out on the field and show I can do it, it doesn’t mean anything. So I want to be able to go into Spring, put a lot of quality at-bats together, show that I can be versatile and play the multiple positions, and then if I go in and play like I should then everything will play out like it should in the long run.”
So far, Wilson is still looking for his first hit of this Grapefruit League season, but he belted a grand slam against Florida Atlantic University on Thursday and drove in an RBI on Friday.
Wilson hit 17 home runs (11 at Memphis) and drove in 77 runs combined last year between Springfield and Memphis.
“That’s one thing I don’t want to lose,” he continued. “If anything, I want to make sure it gets better and better every year. Growing up, everyone says if you can hit, you’ll play and that’s kind of what approach I take. Not taking anything off defense because that’s a huge part of the game too. You make that one error, it might cost you the game.”
Besides his power, Wilson also brings some versatility with the glove, already appearing at both third base and left field.
“As many as possible,” he answered about how many positions he can play. “I know last year, I actually worked some stuff last year with Mike (Matheny) in the cages catching. Last year, I had innings in left, third, short, second, and first. That kind of started off my second Fall League last year. We got out there and Vance Wilson, who was the manager for the Double-A Royals, asked if I could play first. I was like ‘sure, never done it but let’s try’. He actually gave me like 10-15 starts at first and that’s what opened eyes to me about a guy that can play multiple positions and the more you play, the better off you are.”
Wilson continued that approach and made the most of his 33 at-bats last year in Spring Training, hitting .303. He also made appearances at first base, second base, third base, and in left field besides being the designated hitter. Anywhere he could play to show value.
“I think that was the way I looked at it—kind of like a preview,” he agreed. “Going into camp last year, I had played about 30 games at Double A level and that was it. So actually, going into camp I felt like a lost dog walking into the locker room—I knew nobody. But I think that’s another thing that shows a lot about this organization, is within that first day I was comfortable with guys.
“Them coming up and talking to me, stuff like that. It made me feel good about that. Then going out to the field and getting the at-bats that I did, the opportunities I did to play. And then going out and producing, I think that showed I feel like I can play at that level and I just have to go out and every day. You never know when you get that call, but until then you can’t just take days off. You’ve got to do that every day and show you can be an everyday guy.”