In the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays selected Casey Gillaspie out of Wichita State. They saw an advanced college hitter with big-time power, and that was too much for them to pass up. Then, 23 rounds later, they found a college hitter with similar power in George State first baseman Nic Wilson. There are certainly reasons that he lasted so much longer, but the Rays will give him a chance to prove that the difference is not quite as large as it appears.
Wilson is even bigger than Gillaspie at 6’6″, 240, and he has the power you would expect from someone of his size. Wilson bounced around from Hofstra to Central Arizona JC to Georgia State over the course of his collegiate career, and in his senior season in 2014, he truly delivered on his potential. He hit to a .322/.423/.683 line with 20 doubles, 18 homers, and 52 RBI in 246 plate appearances. He did strike out a lot of times–56 times against 35 walks–but unlike other strikeout-heavy sluggers, there is reason to think that Wilson could continue to improve. A major reason for his improvement this season was that it was his first season wearing glasses, and he could get better at pitch recognition as he sees more offerings. If that does fall into place, Wilson’s career could go somewhere.
Even in the best-case scenario, Nic Wilson is likely a low-average power hitter. He hit .231 in 221 summer ball at-bats, and that is around where he could settle in as a professional. Wilson’s power comes from excellent strength than bat speed, and holes in his swing will make strikeouts part of his game. However, especially once they arrived at the 24th round of the draft, the Rays saw Wilson’s power and the reason for optimism from his vision and saw a player worth giving an opportunity.