No. 47: Adam Wilk, LHP
Here is maybe the first of my rankings which will be met with some backlash. For example, Baseball America has Wilk ranked as the 10th best prospect in the Tigers system. Now, Baseball America is a fantastic outlet, and they do an outstanding job, but I just don't see it with Wilk. Moving on, Wilk was drafted by the Tigers in the 11th round of the 2009 draft out of Cal State-Long Beach. We've seen him in Detroit in small samples in each of the last two seasons, where he's posted a 6.66 ERA across 24 1/3 IP in the MLB. He has, however, posted excellent statistics in the minor leagues across 3+ seasons, consistently striking out more than 7 batters per 9 innings, while walking less than 2 per 9. He turns 25 next Sunday, and will enter Spring Training in 2013 in the mix for a bullpen spot with the Tigers.
Wilk's calling card is his control. He throws a fastball that sits in the mid to high 80's, rarely touching 89-90, a curveball that flashes average projection, and a change up that is above average, occasionally showing plus. His fastball shows decent movement, both in terms of run and sink depending on what he's trying to do, which allows it to grade up a bit over the below-average velocity. He commands it pretty well, which is great, but even a well-spotted 88 MPH fastball can get hit hard in the major leagues. His breaking ball, while flashing average potential as I said, is really more of set up pitch at this point. He has a tendency to leave it up, where it hangs, and is then extremely hittable. His change up is his best pitch. He is able to throw it from the same arm slot and with the same arm speed as his fastball, and it is a useful weapon against both right handers and left handers. Wilk is your classic touch and feel left handed pitcher, who mixes his pitches well, commands everything, and is able to move in and out of the strike zone to keep hitters off balance in order to make up for his less than overwhelming stuff. He throws tons of strikes, as evidenced by his career walk rates, but that leaves him very little room for error in the major leagues, where, quite simply, hitters can hit strikes.
Wilk's ceiling is that of a back of the rotation starter or long reliever. He fails to profile as a lefty on lefty specialist because of his lack of a good breaking ball. He is a fastball/change up pitcher, which can be effective, but significantly limits his profile. To be completely honest with you all, I don't see Wilk as more than a long reliever/mop up guy. While that is indeed useful and important to a major league team, I guess I'm lower on him than others are. He'll come into spring training and compete for the 7th relievers job, and could very well make the team, but at that point I believe he will have reached his ceiling. He has the potential to spot start, as we have seen, but I think that's more a product of his ability to go multiple innings than of his ability to get hitters out in succession. So, to summarize, I believe we'll see Wilk split time between Detroit and Toledo in 2013, much in the same way that 2012 went for him.