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Road to The Show™: A’s shortstop Wilson

No. 76 prospect displays excellent bat-to-ball skills in pro debut
Jacob Wilson played 23 games for High-A Lansing after being drafted No. 6 overall by Oakland in July. (David Malamut/
January 23, 2024's Road to the Show Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at top A’s prospect Jacob Wilson. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here. Jacob's Road to the Show Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at top A’s prospect Jacob Wilson. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here.

Jacob Wilson grew up around Major League clubhouses and may soon return to that familiar territory.

The top A’s prospect and son of two-time All-Star Jack Wilson played 26 games in his first professional season after being drafted out of Grand Canyon University last summer. Wilson debuted in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League before finishing the season with High-A Lansing.

During his first Minor League stint, Wilson lived up to the scouting report – a profile that shares similar aspects to his father’s playing days – that made him one of the most coveted hitters in the 2023 Draft class. He continued to display his terrific bat-to-ball skills, batting .333 with a .391 on-base percentage. But he also showed some power, slugging .475 with 11 doubles and a homer in 99 total at-bats.

Wilson played exclusively at shortstop, committing just three errors and maintaining a .970 fielding percentage in 99 total chances.

The 21-year-old’s excellent MiLB debut capped off a stellar season that began at the MLB Desert Invitational in February. In the season opener against UC San Diego, Wilson delivered an RBI triple in his first at-bat, a two-run single in his next trip and then leapt into the stands to make a diving catch on a pop fly in the third inning. He was removed from the game the following inning for precautionary reasons but returned the next day and roped a triple in his first at-bat.

By the end of the season, Wilson had become Grand Canyon's leader in career hits (224) and RBIs (155). He set another school record with a .411 average his junior season, during which he was a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist for the second consecutive year, a consensus All-American and the WAC Defensive Player of the Year. In 620 career at-bats, Wilson struck out just 31 times, only five of which came his junior year.

“We really believe Jacob is a unique player. He has a unique skill in putting the bat on the ball. This is a kid with outstanding defensive skills at shortstop,” A’s general manager David Frost told after the Draft. “A kid who spent a lot of time in a Major League clubhouse and around his dad, who taught him the game. When you put it all together, it’s an incredibly exciting package for someone we feel really confident is a Major League player.”

Wilson played for his father at Thousand Oaks High School in California and had his brilliant senior season in 2020 cut short by the pandemic. Even as a high schooler, Wilson already showed the hitting prowess and defensive ability for which he’s become known. When he went unselected in the shortened 2020 Draft, he was joined at Grand Canyon by his father, who jumped on the Antelopes staff as an assistant coach.

Wilson was one of three Grand Canyon players to be named a Freshman All-American in 2021. He played exclusively at third base during that season and finished with a .313 average and .816 OPS while leading the program to its first NCAA tournament berth.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound infielder shifted to shortstop full-time during his sophomore campaign. He also led the team in hits (88) and doubles (18) during a season in which he batted .358 with a 1.004 OPS and earned his first Golden Spikes semifinalist honor.

Wilson spent the summer after his sophomore season with Orleans of the Cape Cod League. He held his own at the plate in the prestigious collegiate circuit, collecting 10 hits in 36 at-bats (.278). But his defensive versatility was tested as he split time between third base and shortstop and even got in one game at left field.

Wilson’s brilliant junior season earned him an invitation to the MLB Draft Combine and he was viewed as a consensus Top-10 pick in a very deep, talented class. Noble Meyer, who was selected by the Marlins at No. 10, mentioned Wilson as a player that might go first overall in other Drafts.

He was selected at No. 6 overall by the A’s and eventually signed a below-slot bonus, which helped the club sign third-round righty Steven Echavarria.

After the Draft, Wilson played just three games in the ACL, collecting five hits in 11 at-bats, before advancing to the Midwest League. His season was prematurely ended by an injury and he played his last game on Sept. 2. But during his time in Lansing, Wilson was fourth on the circuit with nine doubles while finishing 10th among qualifiers with a .318 average.

Wilson is likely to start the 2024 season at Double-A Midland and is in a good position to rise quickly in the Minors. The A’s fielded the third youngest club in the Majors and rostered 21 different rookies at some point last season.

Here's what the experts at MLB Pipeline have to say about Wilson:

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)
HIT: 65
RUN: 50
ARM: 55

“Wilson played his high school ball at Thousand Oaks HS in California, playing for his father, former big league All-Star Jack Wilson. Jacob went on to Grand Canyon University and was named a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2021. He was even better in 2022, finishing with a 1.004 OPS as a sophomore, raised his profile even more over the summer with a solid stint in the Cape Cod League and for Team USA, then continuing to rake as a junior in 2023. With his name being mentioned all over the first round, he landed at No. 6 overall with the A’s, who signed him to an under-slot bonus of $5.5 million and quickly got him to full-season ball during his pro debut.
Wilson, whose dad followed him to Grand Canyon and was an assistant coach this past season, has an intriguing combination of baseball IQ and tools. He might be one of the better pure hitters in the class, one who consistently finds the barrel and struck out in just 4.4 percent of his plate appearances during his college career. While there has been some concern over his ability to impact the ball, he did tap into his power some, smashing 12 homers and slugging .585 in 2022 and .635 this past spring.
A fringy-to-average runner, Wilson has the skills to stick at shortstop, with good actions, range and an above-average arm. He might not have the pure power profile should he have to slide over to third base, where he played as a freshman, but the contact and pitch recognition skills should enable him to reach the big leagues in a hurry regardless of where he plays defensively.”

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for