Tampa, FL- Wes Wilson is stepping up to the plate more these days. Literally and figuratively.
The catcher for the High-A Tampa Yankees has been given more opportunities to play, and has taken advantage. Through four consecutive games this week, he racked up five hits, and in ten games he’s knocked in a pair of runs and scored four. His at-bats increased from May (12) through June (51), and now as August draws to a close, he’s gotten 49 chances.
For any player, consistently competing against the same players helps them know just who and what they’re dealing with. That’s not always been the case for Wilson, so he’s concentrating his efforts more intensely.
“It’s definitely been different,” he said. “Now that I’m playing more often and seeing teams multiple times. I’ve got to pay attention to how teams pitch me. It’s been awhile since I had to prepare for that.”
Wilson shares catching duties with Jesus Aparicio, and Santiago Nessy. Wilson, 27, is the veteran of the group, three and five years older than them respectively, but he’s also a repeat player in the league. In 2015, he played in 41 games and finished the season hitting .220/.292/.288.
He said that little has changed in his daily routine, he’s just more aware of how he can keep his body ready more often.
“I always had to prepare like I was playing, now it’s just about conserving a little more energy leading up to 7pm. Maybe a little more body maintenance, rolling out, stretching, and cold tubbing,” he said.
The Lextington, Kentucky native reflected on some of his memories this season, including the hardest-throwing pitchers he’s caught (“Eddie Rivera sure was bringing It the other night. [Domingo] Acevedo and [Justus] Sheffield also can run it up there. And I caught[former Yankees, now Cubs closer, Aroldis] Chapman in extended.), as well as the moment when the Tampa team knew they’d secured a post-season berth.
“Well, the 18 inning game against Lakeland to end the first half and clinch was pretty special. Haven’t had to pitch yet this year.”
That little aside was a reference to a June 2015 marathon contest against the Bradenton Marauders, when he caught 15 innings, pitched two perfect innings, and hit a 17th inning, go-ahead home run. While nothing has come quite as close to that in terms of pure theater, there’s something more that Wilson has his eye on, something with a whole different meaning.
When asked if all this extra contributing to Tampa’s 2016 success makes going to the post-season with the team even better, he’s emphatic.
“Definitely. It’s gonna be awesome. To be a big part of it and have a chance to contribute to a championship, that’s all you ever want as a player. And given my career to this point,” he said, “it makes it so much sweeter.”
Wilson was a NDFA signed by the Yankees in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @wtwilson5
Tampa at a glance: The Yankees #1 prospect, Jorge Mateo, leads the team in hits (115). No small thing, considering the shortstop was suspended for two weeks, reportedly due to communication issues with the Yankees. No one was able to catch him. Buuut…. LF Zack Zehner has done well all season, clocking in 2nd in hits with 102…Josh Rogers .240 ERA is the lowest on the team…Tampa has the lowest team ERA in the league (3.06) and leads in strikeouts (1059).