For the first time since high school, Royals' Wilson drills pair of homers in Fall League

October 12th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- You never know what you're going to see in the Arizona Fall League, and in the case of the Royals No. 26 prospect , you never know when you're going to have your first two-homer game since high school.

Hunting the first pitch of the at-bat on two separate occasions, Wilson walloped a pair of solo homers during Surprise's 16-1 win over Glendale at Surprise Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. His first of the day kicked off the scoring, while his second helped him build toward what would be a career-high-tying four-RBI performance with 10 total bases.

Citing an aggressive approach, Wilson sizzled the ball to the opposite field for both his homer and RBI double in a 10-run Saguaros fourth, before he went beyond 400 feet to straightaway center for his second roundtripper.

"I'm definitely most of the time looking the other way, it kind of helps out my swing and all that," Wilson said. "So I'm definitely trying to drive the ball the other way and then turn on something once I get it in. But I got lucky enough today [that I] got a couple of balls in the air and they got out of here."

Home runs haven't traditionally been a consistent aspect of the 5-foot-8 Wilson's game. His speed and arm tools grade out as well above-average (65, on the 20-80 scouting scale), though the former two-sport athlete has shown a propensity to deliver pop in spurts. Four of his six homers this year came in a nine-game span over the summer with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and the eight taters he hit between August and September 2022 accounted for more than half of his yearly total.

When Wilson connected on his first Fall League homer in the fourth and began his jog around the bases, it marked his first roundtripper since July 3. While four-base power went out the window over the season's final two months, he hit .327 in both August and September.

"I'm just trying to always hit the ball hard," Wilson said of his approach. "I didn't hit as many home runs at the end of the year as I would like, but, you know, I hit some doubles … and if it goes out, it goes out.

"I just try to hit hard line drives all over the field."

Through six Fall League contests with the Saguaros, Wilson has been a line-drive machine. He has gone 10-for-22, with half of his hits going for extra bases. The 23-year-old delivered knocks in five of his six outings and has slashed .417/.516/.792 while tying for the circuit lead with 10 runs scored.

Selected in Competitive Balance Round B of the 2021 Draft out of Alabama, the Yellowhammer State native has carved his way through Kansas City's system, spending the entirety of this past year with Northwest Arkansas. His 33 doubles led all batters in the Texas League, while his 140 hits ranked him second among all Royals Minor Leaguers, as did his 83 wRC.

Wilson is among a group of players who get the benefit of playing at his club's Spring Training complex during his time in the Fall League. While he enjoyed a four-game stint with the Royals during Cactus League play that introduced him to more experienced hurlers, facing a variety of unfamiliar arms on the premier prospect circuit has forced him to adapt at the dish even further.

"Here it's kind of like, 'I've never seen this guy before. I've never played this organization before. I don't really know how they'll throw me,'" Wilson said of the unique challenge hitters face in the AFL. "It's definitely just go up there and try to get your pitch and drive it when you get a pitch you can hit."

Wilson's offensive contributions backed a Royals quartet on the mound. , who has made stints with the big league club each of the past three years, worked the front three frames and allowed one run with a pair of strikeouts. Fellow southpaw Rylan Kaufman worked a scoreless fourth and showcased an impressive two-pitch mix with his heater and looping mid-70s mph curveball. Righty was dominant over three scoreless, compiling four strikeouts before whiffed the side in the following frame, working around a pair of wild pitches as he consistently showcased a 96 mph heater.