For the Orioles, the progress in 2019 of young pitcher Ryan Wilson had to be a real positive development. The 23-year-old lefty was moved from a bullpen role to starting and he had a big season for Single-A Delmarva.
His year flew under the radar a bit as he pitched in a rotation with pitchers like Grayson Rodriguez, Gray Fenter and Drew Rom, but Wilson made 17 starts for the Shorebirds. He went 6-5 with a 2.80 ERA. Over 93 1/3 innings he allowed 73 hits and gave up just six homers with 29 walks, 105 strikeouts and a 1.09 WHIP.
Not bad for a 33rd-round draft pick in 2017 out of Pepperdine. Not bad considering that when last season began he started the year at extended spring training. He made his first Delmarva start on May 18 and gave up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. But over his last 13 starts for the team, he allowed two or fewer earned runs 11 times and zero earned runs six times.
He’s not a real hard thrower, with a fastball that sits between 89 and 92 mph, but also throws a curveball, slider and changeup.
To hear his manager Kyle Moore tell it, Wilson’s taking a step forward in 2019 was partially about good use of the new technology on the O’s farm. He made good use of the Edgertronic high-speed cameras.
“He made some real big adjustments this year,” Moore said. ” When he first got to us - coming up from extended to work on some things - he got lit up in his first outing. But he’s a grinder. Made a big adjustment with his breaking ball.
“Justin Ramsey (Shorebirds pitching coach) was huge in his development with the Edgertronic camera and the TrackMan (data) in how the ball comes off his fingers and playing with his grip. With the use of technology and a good pitching coach in Justin, they made a few adjustments and next thing you know they got it figured out quick. He was rolling out in the sixth and seventh inning every start and was a huge piece for us in the second half.”
Wilson had an ERA of 7.47 after his first four starts but as he improved and the technology helped with all his pitches, especially his breaking pitches, he was big for the Shorebirds as they set a team record with 90 wins and made the playoffs. He was one of five pitchers that struck out 100 or more on a team that set a South Atlantic League record for strikeouts.
“It definitely helped,” Wilson said in a phone interview. “I think Justin just did a good job of translating that info and data. We got to work with the Edgertronic cameras throwing our bullpens and that helped the most. We had two guys working with the cameras. We were lucky to have a two-man team. You can look at the video and get instant feedback. It just helps you understand what you are doing better. We had a stripe on the baseball and you can see if you are throwing it right.”
Wilson said Ramsey was the right guy to be a go-between with the technology and the pitchers.
“He was google translate for all of us,” he said. “It was great to work with him. He was great at communicating with the technology but if you just wanted to talk old-school pitching, we did that as well.”
Wilson was a teammate at Pepperdine of lefty pitcher Easton Lucas, the player the Orioles got from Miami when they traded Jonathan Villar. They played together at the school in 2016 and 2017.
After his big season last summer, Wilson is flying under the radar less these days. He could move up to Single-A Frederick in 2020.
“I love to be able to throw any pitch in any count and have that pitchability,” he said. “When I was young I was not throwing that hard at all so I had to learn other pitches to stay around.
“Being a 33rd-round pick, I’ve never been on the radar, even in high school or college. That’s never really been a problem for me. Just hopefully keep plugging along, string a couple of good years together and see what happens.” said Wilson.