SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At D-backs camp, it was Arizona's No. 5 prospect, Marcus Wilson.When the D-backs drafted Wilson out of Junipero Serra High School (Calif.) in
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At D-backs camp, it was Arizona's No. 5 prospect, Marcus Wilson.
When the D-backs drafted Wilson out of Junipero Serra High School (Calif.) in the Competitve Balance Round B in 2014, they knew he'd be a bit of a project. Sure enough, he needed three summers of rookie ball before he was ready for the move to full-season ball full-time, but he broke out when he got there in 2017, finishing with a .295/.383/.446 line in the Midwest League.
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MLB Pipeline: Does this Spring Training have a different feel for you? This is really the first time you know for sure you're going to break camp with a team on Opening Day.
Wilson: It's definitely my first Spring Training knowing that. I kind of always knew the plan was going to be long. This year, it's different. I'm just trying to get ready for the season rather than make a team. Right now, I feel really comfortable and I'm just trying to build off of the year I had last year.
MLB Pipeline: Speaking of your 2017, you must have a lot more confidence this spring because of that. Do you feel different now, with a better feeling that you can do this?
Wilson: That's exactly what it is. I finally did what I always knew what I could do. I'm trying to build off of that to this year. The confidence level is going high into this year. This is a big year for me. I just want to keep it going.
MLB Pipeline: You knew it would take a while, but even if you knew that, was there a part of you that got frustrated with how long the process has taken for you? How did you deal with that?
Wilson: It definitely was frustrating. You see your friends move up and things like that. But when I just focused on myself and didn't worry about what everyone else was doing, that's when I had a breakout year. I stopped focusing on everyone else and just focused on me. And the results came.
MLB Pipeline: I guess if you're going to spend a lot of time at a facility, this would be the one to spend it at.
Wilson: It's very comfortable here. I've seen and heard other people talk about the other complexes and it's definitely one of the nicer ones.
MLB Pipeline: What was it that clicked in 2017? It wasn't an ah-ha moment, was it? But there must have been times when you tried to do something that hadn't worked in the past, but last year it did?
Wilson: It was actually one of my last at-bats in Spring Training. I was feeling comfortable until then, I was having a good Spring Training, but one of my last at-bats, it kind of clicked for me. Going into the year, it just kept going. April, I had the best month of my life. Then through the whole season, I just built off of that, really. It kind of was a click, or aha moment.
MLB Pipeline: They always talk about power being the last tool to come. It did start to come for you last year a little. What happened there, was it just a matter of you growing into your strength more?
Wilson: I always make fun of myself, that I have no pop, but people kept saying, "It's going to come." Now, it's starting to come. I'm excited. Just seeing the progress from when I came in at 17 to now, it's a big difference. I almost don't recognize that guy. I was 170 pounds soaking wet back then. And now I'm 195 pounds. I'm getting there.
MLB Pipeline: The important thing is that you had to learn how to hit before you added that strength. It doesn't seem like you sacrificed any of that for power, right?
Wilson: I didn't feel like I muscled up or anything. The plate discipline came with the at-bats, but last year, the biggest thing was I was way more aggressive in hitter's counts. I think that was the only thing I had to change about my game.
MLB Pipeline: Is that a hard thing to learn? Usually, you think of "aggressive," and you think "swing at everything." You don't want to be that guy, so is it like you're being selectively aggressive?
Wilson: Selectively aggressive is the way to put it. Somebody made it super-simple for me. He said: "If you swing at strikes, you'll be successful. If you swing at balls, you won't." That's all I tried to do, really. I tried to swing at strikes, good pitches.
MLB Pipeline: It's nice when it can be boiled down to be a simple philosophy like that.
Wilson: It has to be for me. I can't do all this complicated stuff that people try to teach you. I try to keep it as simple as possible.
MLB Pipeline: I wanted to ask you about your high school days at Serra. Your school has produced some good players. What kind of pride do you take when you look at the list of guys who have come from there into the pro game?
Wilson: That rap sheet is kind of extensive. I went up there recently. I just saw the All-American list and said, "Wow." It's a big list to live up to, but I feel like I'm up for the challenge. I think I can be a part of that group and not let everybody down.
MLB Pipeline: Are there guys from that list you talk to about the process?
Wilson:Dominic Smith is a big one. I hang out with him, always. He's just a guy I always looked up to growing up. He teaches me the game, what you should do hitting, and everything else. I played with Dominic since I was 10 years old. We played on the same travel team and coming up through high school. I feel really comfortable around him.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.