Bryse Wilson had another up and down campaign for the Atlanta Braves in 2019. Both statistically speaking, and organizationally speaking, Wilson showed off his promising stuff at times while yo-yoing from Gwinnett to Atlanta throughout the year.
Sometimes you have to take a step back and remember Wilson, a Top 10 prospect in the Braves system, is still just 21-years-old. The young righty arrived in Atlanta in 2018 well ahead of schedule. At times — both this year and last — he looked to still be playing catchup with his arsenal as he hopefully matures into a big-league pitcher. While Wilson excelled at the minor league level once again in 2019, his MLB time was not a success, but not a complete loss.
What went right for Wilson in 2019
Wilson opened the 2019 MLB season on the Braves roster and made a forgettable debut against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 30, but more on that later. He rebounded against those same Phils in July for his best start of the season, going six innings while allowing just two runs, striking out five and walking two. That unfortunately the extent of his memorable performances for the Braves in 2019.
He went to Gwinnett and was a solid starter there. Wilson made 21 starts and went 10-7 with a 3.42 ERA and 3.68 FIP. He struck out 118 in 121 minor league innings while walking just 26 batters. He caught fire mid-June and minus an absolute stinker on July 11, Wilson went 39 innings where he allowed just two earned runs over six starts. He struck out 35 and walked eight. When you look back at what went right in 2019, this seven-start stretch is certainly the high point.
What went wrong with Wilson in 2019
Unfortunately for Wilson, it seemed like more of the same at many times. He struggles to maintain big-league hitters both as a starter and reliever, pitching to a 7.20 ERA, a slightly better 6.36 FIP and a 16:10 strike out rate over 20 innings. The walks are highly uncharacteristic of Wilson, but to be fair, four of them came in just 3 1/3 innings of the debut performance. That said, a big drop in his strike out rate (over 10 in 2018 and under nine in 2019) is something to watch.
Wilson showed he’s still a bulldog who can attack the zone in the minors, arguably his best trait, walking just 1.93-per-nine. It’s been quite the different tune in the bigs, and he’s also more hittable both in average and power. When you consider Wilson pitched the bulk of 2019 in the power-happy International League and only allowed 0.89 home runs-per-nine, his trouble at the highest level is both discerning and odd.
It’s possible that it’s simply due to the fact that Wilson is still very reliant on his fastball, and will shy away from his secondary offerings as soon as he is in trouble. More advanced hitters will eat that alive. That’s not to say Wilson’s arsenal is anything close to bad. His fastball seemed to have a bit more life this year and his hybrid breaking ball is without question effective when he is using it. If he can get that changeup to a plus level, he’ll be the complete pitcher the Braves want.
What to expect from Wilson in 2020
Wilson is right on that cusp. He rose two spots from the preseason No. 9 to the midseason No. 7 in the Talking Chop prospect rankings. Obviously, the Braves like what he possesses, or else they wouldn’t have called up a 20-year-old with just about two full years of professional experience. With the depth of pitching in the system, Wilson can be anything from trade bait to a future back-of-the-rotation staple to a reliever that can serve as a swingman when needed. Wilson is on his way to a bright big-league career, it just seems that some more patience should be had as he develops.