SARASOTA, Fla. – A lot has changed in just one year for Baltimore Orioles prospect Tyler Wilson.
Fresh off a season that saw him named the recipient of the Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year award for being the clubs’ top minor-league hurler, the 25-year-old comes to major league camp looking to build on his successful 2014 season.
As a 10th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Wilson faces tough competition within a strong Baltimore farm system, with names like Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Hunter Harvey, all first-round selections that have similar rotation ambitions in mind.
Wilson is quick to deflect the attention off his breakthrough story, or others’ perception of his talent, instead focusing on the elements that he can control to navigate his career forward.
“I don’t think too much about the underdog status, I don’t think too much about honestly what people’s perception of me is,” the 6-foot-2 righty said outside the team’s spring training complex Wednesday.
“As soon as you start getting caught up in what people think about you, or the type of player other people want you to be, you start to lose yourself a little bit.”
Relying on command of his fastball, curveball and changeup, the right-hander split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, compiling a 14-8 record with a 3.67 earned-run average in 166 2/3 innings.
Wilson’s 2014 efforts didn’t go unnoticed from the team’s management core, with the Orioles adding him to their 40-man roster in November and protecting him from being poached away in the MLB Rule 5 draft.
His roots within the game can be traced back to his father, a farmhand of the San Diego Padres back in 1979. Despite the bloodlines and love for the game from his childhood, the fourth-year pro was always afforded the chance to pursue his own aspirations and not be pressured – something he remains thankful for even today.
“He was the perfect balance of motivation, yet letting me make my own choices,” Wilson said. “Every single day, and still to this point, he challenges me to be the best that I can be in whatever facet, whether it’s pitching or just as a friend.
“I value that to the utmost, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
Those subjects of interest go deeper than just baseball, with the biology graduate from the University of Virginia a potential medical school hopeful after his playing days.
For now, the young starter’s focus remains on the diamond, with an eye at continued improvement, something that could even happen at the big-league level, whether it be as a starter or in relief during 2015.
“One way or another, whether it’s playing catch on the sideline, throwing a bullpen or its game day, my job is to improve on some facet of my game every single day,” Wilson said. “Whatever the [Orioles coaching staff] think is best for the team, I’d be happy to do.”
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