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Q&A with Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake (CA) HS (2010 Draft)

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March 29, 2010

Articulate, Intelligent, Ambitious, Educated and Talented. Talk about a five-tool guy.

In a strong man’s game populated with one-dimensional sluggers, Austin Wilson is too smart to fall into the trap of being what baseball expects him to be. He could sit back and try to pole everything and not worry about the strikeouts or the batting average, but that wouldn’t be an efficient use of his talent. Baseball Beginnings caught up with Wilson for this Q&A, touching on topics ranging from what kind of player he really believes he is going to be, to how he is going to achieve that goal.

Baseball Beginnings: Where do you feel you are right now as a hitter and as an overall player? 
Wilson: Right now, I feel like each year I’ve progressed and matured. I’ve had different things that I’ve worked on. Freshman year, I wanted to work on loading, keeping my hands back and not chasing. Once I got my strike zone down, I worked on my swing. Reggie Smith is my hitting coach. So I try to stay in the hitting zone with the bat head for as long as I can. I want to be able to drive the ball to all fields and not just hit everything to left field like I did as a freshman. My main goal is to be able to drive the ball to all fields in two or three years with wood. Right now, I can do center and left, but I’m not at right field yet. 

Baseball Beginnings: Is this why in high school games you occasionally get more inside-out swings than you’d like with a guy like you? At that stage, is this you trying to consistently go to right field because you’ve established the power to left and center in the summer and you can trade some power at this level to refine that aspect of hitting? 
Wilson: Yes. My main goal over the summer, facing all the good arms all the time, was not to get beat by the fastball. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. One of my main problems is rolling over and that leads into jamming sometimes, but like I said, I’d be happier with a jam shot than a roll over. It is hard, but my main goal is to get my hands inside, and you have to keep working and working.

Baseball Beginnings: It sounds like you don’t just want to be a one-dimensional power guy, but a guy who learns to be a more complete hitter. 
Wilson: Exactly. I want to be able to get my hands inside so consistently that I can drive the pitch to right field and fight off a good pitch inside and still square it. A lot of people look at me and they see this big kid who can drive the ball for power and they sort of automatically think he’s going to be a .240 hitter with 30 home runs. I don’t want to be the guy who hits 30 home runs and strikes out a ton. I want to be able to hit for as much of an average as I can to go with the power. I know that the key for that is to use the whole field, to be able not to get beaten on the inner half, and if you can drive that pitch you can. If you fight it off and it’s a base hit, hey, better than rolling to short. 

Baseball Beginnings: How have you progressed over the last few years? 
Wilson: I didn’t do the whole Bryce Harper travel ball thing, so by the time I was in 10th grade, it was the first time I had seen really good pitching. 

Baseball Beginnings: Did people say you were raw? 
Wilson: Yes and that really bugged me. I didn’t think the kids were better players than I was. I thought they were more experienced. I didn’t think it was fair. To be honest, it motivated me and made me work harder. 

Baseball Beginnings: Where can you say you were ‘discovered?’ 
Wilson: I had made the Area Codes after my sophomore year. Then going into the Academy workout before my Junior year, I felt I stole the show. I just did my thing. 

Baseball Beginnings: You strike me as the kind of guy who much prefers wood to metal. 
Wilson: Absolutely. Wood is so much more satisfying when you square a ball up. You can be out in front of a curveball with metal and still hit it out. It doesn’t make you any better. If it doesn’t make you better, what’s the point? 

Baseball Beginnings: You’re a veteran of the showcases after the 2009 summer. Even though the speed of high school baseball is slower, is it nice to actually play a game with a score, with a team, where you’re still being scouted obviously but you know you’ve already proven yourself to them? 
Wilson: I love it. It’s so nice to come back to an atmosphere and a team environment when you’re trying to win instead of every man for himself. Aflac was actually a lot of fun because we all wanted to win. Tournament of Stars (Team USA junior trails) is what you expect the minors to be – every man for himself. If somebody does bad, nobody cares, because it means opportunity for them.  

Baseball Beginnings: You have the college commitment to Stanford, where you and Brain Ragira could be in the same outfield – virtually assuring that I will be scouting every Stanford game in Los Angeles for the next three years of my life. Why can college baseball work for you even though you have the physical ability to turn pro after high school? 
Wilson: My Mom went to Stanford and my Dad went to MIT. They met at Harvard Business school. Since the seventh grade, I’ve commuted from Hancock Park to (Studio City) Harvard-Westlake. Education has always been valued in my family. I know you have to carefully weigh all your options, but I feel I am in a pretty good spot right now. 

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