From Wolfpack to Giants: Wilson leads trio

March 10th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Two years ago, Will Wilson was playing college baseball at North Carolina State with fellow Giants prospect Patrick Bailey. Now, the two first-round Draft picks are teammates once again and helping each other navigate their first big league camp.

“It’s pretty surreal, honestly,” Wilson said during a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. “We were pretty close friends at NC State. He was in my wedding, I was in his. We’ve built a great relationship from that. Having him at the alternate site in San Francisco last year, we kind of got even closer just being quarantined in the bubble together. Same thing goes this year. It’s really good to have somebody you’ve been around a lot and been comfortable with. It makes it a lot easier getting out here.”

Wilson was originally selected by the Angels with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 Draft, but he came over to the Giants as part of the Zack Cozart trade in December 2019. The Giants essentially bought Wilson by agreeing to take on the remaining $12.7 million on Cozart’s contract, a sign of how much the organization coveted the 22-year-old infielder.

Six months later, the Giants selected Bailey with the 13th overall pick of the 2020 Draft. The buddies had a chance to reunite at Oracle Park for Summer Camp last year and then spent the rest of the regular season working out at the Giants’ alternate training site in Sacramento. Yet another former member of the Wolfpack, left-hander Nick Swiney, joined them for fall instructional league after being drafted by the Giants in the second round last year.

“Getting out in instructs where all three of us were together last year was pretty cool,” Wilson said. “It’d be great to play with those guys again. Hopefully we all get the chance to do it at any level and hopefully the big league level, too.”

The trio will likely form a big part of the Giants’ future, though Wilson is the farthest along the pipeline. Ranked as the Giants’ No. 11 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Wilson slashed .275/.328/.439 with five home runs over 46 games for Rookie-level Orem in 2019, but his trajectory stalled a bit when the Minor League season was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic last year. Still, Wilson was able to continue to log meaningful developmental reps and face advanced competition in Sacramento.

“I think for me it was just settling in to seeing the top-tier pitching and the speed of play defensively,” Wilson said. “That was a big adjustment for me. I think I handled it pretty well. Hopefully, I can come out here and just carry that over from what I learned last summer.”

A natural shortstop, Wilson has moved around the infield this spring and has drawn starts at second and third base to increase his versatility. Most scouts believe he’ll end up sticking at second, where he showed off his glove by making a nice backhanded play on a ground ball off the bat of Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong on Tuesday.

Wilson said he feels comfortable at all three positions and has appreciated being able to learn from veteran infielders like Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria this spring.

“Just getting to be behind guys like Craw and Longo over at short and third has been great,” said Wilson, who is 1-for-12 over his first six Cactus League games. “Comfortability wise, I feel pretty good. Just getting game reps everywhere. Just getting those reps and feeling confident out there where the team wants me to play.”

Wilson and highly touted shortstop Marco Luciano drew high praise from manager Gabe Kapler for reporting to camp in excellent shape, which seems to bode well for the Giants’ potential double-play combination of the future.

“Wilson looks fantastic,” Kapler said last month. “Really put in a lot of work, looks lighter but also sturdy because he’s definitely put on some muscle. That was super encouraging.”