The Portland Sea Dogs had their last off-day in August on Monday, and pitcher Alex Wilson took advantage of the free time to see a movie.
“I saw Horrible Bosses,”Wilson said. “It’s a great movie if you want a couple of laughs.”
Alex was still smiling after the flick, but not because of what he saw on the big screen.
“I got the call that I was going up to Pawtucket right after I walked out of the movie,” Wilson told me. “I was kind of surprised because it is so late in the year. It’s definitely something that I had as a goal. I pitched well enough to put myself in this position and I’m excited that it worked out.”
(Photo courtesy of Tom Perreira)
The 24-year-old righty was 9-4 with a 3.05 ERA (5th best in Eastern League) in 21 starts for Double-A Portland, including 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last 8 outings. One of the keys to his success has been a pitch that he learned from his spring training roommate and current PawSox teammate Kyle Weiland.
“He helped me out a little bit with a 2-seamer (sinking fastball) and it’s been a huge factor in my game,” Wilson said. “I’ve been able to keep the ball down with a little run and a little sink and I’m getting more ground balls this year than I’m used to getting. It’s allowed me to keep the ball in play and get some quick outs. I’ve been able to move it in-and-out, and when I’m able to do that and keep it down it’s a great thing for me.”
The Red Sox 2nd round draft pick in 2009 already had an outstanding breaking ball. Wilson has been rated by Baseball America as having the best slider in the Red Sox farm system after each of his first two professional seasons.
“It’s definitely my bread-and-butter pitch – no doubt about that,” Wilson said. “I started learning it in high school from a guy in my hometown who went to West Virginia University– Billy Biggs. I was a sophomore in high school and he came out and showed me how to throw it and I’ve stuck with it ever since.”
After being named the high school player of the year in the state of West Virginia in 2005, Wilson went to Winthrop (SC) University where he was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2006 after going 13-3. But in the summer after his sophomore year at Winthrop, Wilson got a major scare while pitching for Falmouth of the Cape Cod League.
“I called home from the Cape League and when I went to hang up the phone my arm just didn’t want to go anywhere,” Wilson said. “I had a bone chip in my right arm and the bone chip had rotated into the joint. My arm was stuck, so I had to use my left arm to straighten out my right one so that I could function a little bit.
“It didn’t feel too good. When I got the news that I needed Tommy John surgery, I was pretty devastated because I was going into my junior year of college and that’s the big year. It was a major setback for me.”
After missing the 2008 season, Wilson pitched for Texas A&M in 2009 before being drafted by Boston with the 77th overall pick. Alex was the Red Sox second selection in that draft after OF Reymond Fuentes (traded to San Diego in Adrian Gonzalez deal) and says that he doesn’t mind the added scrutiny that comes with being a high draft pick.
“I don’t think about it,” Wilson said. “I try to go out there and play my game and see what happens. I haven’t been worn-out too much yet, so I guess that things have been going OK.”
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Wilsonis scheduled to make his Triple-A debut on Thursday night at 7:05 as the first-place PawSox host Columbus. Pawtucket has a one-game lead over Lehigh Valley in the IL North with 18 games to go.
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