With the sixth overall pick, the Oakland Athletics selected Jacob Wilson, a 21-year-old shortstop out of Grand Canyon University. MLB Pipeline and Fangraphs both had him 10th in their pre-draft rankings, while Keith Law at The Athletic is much more bearish on him, ranking him all the way down at 24th.
As the son of former All-Star infielder Jack Wilson, he has a lot of tools, both physically and mentally, that should help him follow in his father’s footsteps. With an elite ability to make contact with the bat, he’s widely considered one of the best pure hitters in the draft. Amazingly, he struck out only five times in 217 plate appearances this year, including a strikeout-less streak over his last 100 trips to the plate.
However, there are big question marks about his capacity to generate power, as he doesn’t usually drive the ball very hard or far and averages a nearly 0 degree launch angle. His ceiling may be limited by that lack of pop but his hit tool, strong defense, and high baseball IQ give him a pretty high floor as a major league infielder.
With all that said, here’s a video of Wilson driving a deep go-ahead grand slam to left field.
Here’s MLB Pipeline’s analysis of Wilson:
Scouting grades: Hit: 65 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Wilson played his high school ball at Thousand Oaks High School in California, playing for his father, former big league All-Star Jack Wilson. Jacob went on to Grand Canyon University and was named a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2021. He was even better in 2022, finishing with a 1.004 OPS as a sophomore before raising his profile even more over the summer with a solid stint in the Cape Cod League and then Team USA.
Wilson, whose dad followed him to Grand Canyon and is an assistant coach this season, has an intriguing combination of baseball IQ and tools. He might be one of the better pure hitters in the class, one who consistently finds the barrel and struck out just seven times in 275 plate appearances as a sophomore. He’s starting to tap into his power more consistently as well, smashing 12 homers and slugging .585 in 2022.
A fringy-to-average runner, Wilson has the skills to stick at shortstop, with good actions, range and an above-average arm. He might not have the pure power profile should he have to slide over to third, where he played as a freshman, but scouts feel he’ll hit plenty for the hot corner. That makes him a prime candidate to go near the top of the first round.
When we looked at some of the possibilities in our draft preview, we mentioned the possibility of the Minnesota Twins taking a wild card with the fifth pick and one of the consensus top five prospects dropping to Oakland. Instead, things went chalk and the A’s had first dibs on the next tier of guys.
By taking Wilson over some of the other college bats they were connected to, they showed that they’re doubling down on a skill they’ve been emphasizing recently in their system: contact ability. Up until the last couple years, the A’s were known for leaning on three-true-outcome guys, disregarding swing-and-miss as long as balls were hit out of the park. Now, potentially as a result of the new rules, the front office is targeting guys like Esteury Ruiz and Darell Hernaiz who don’t hit the ball very hard but also don’t strike out often.
He’ll likely slot in somewhere among the top tier of the A’s farm system, perhaps somewhere in the 4 to 7 range. With several players struggling to grab hold of the shortstop job on the major league team, Wilson will have plenty of opportunities to make himself a franchise cornerstone.
The Oakland A’s have two more picks today: 39th (Competitive Balance Round A) and 41st (Round 2). Stay tuned.