photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Down on the Farm: Adam Wilk

PHOTO: James R. Chipman

Adam Wilk warms up in the Tigers bullpen in a game against the Houston Astros on March 12, 2011.

2010: Advanced-A Lakeland & AA-Erie

167.1 innings  11-5  2.74 ERA  1.03 WHIP  1.3 BB/9  6.1 K/9

Adam Wilk was drafted in the eleventh round of the 2009 June MLB Amateur Draft out of Long Beach State University. The 6-foot-2, 23-year-old southpaw starting pitcher is quietly making a name for himself down on the farm.

With two seasons and 241 innings of professional ball under his belt Wilk has posted some amazing numbers. He has allowed just 11 home-runs and 31 walks while posting a 2.35 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. This spring, Wilk has pitched nine scoreless innings, striking out four.

Wilk features a five pitch mix that includes a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball, curve-ball, change-up and cutter. The southpaw throws from a unique almost sidearm angle that helps him create a good deal of deception.

I had the opportunity in Lakeland last season to watch several of his starts. In doing so I observed a few things beyond the numbers. While Wilk doesn’t exactly light up the radar gun his control and command are second to none in our farm system. Baseball America ranks him first and I’m inclined to agree. He is comfortable throwing anything in his arsenal regardless of the count. Wilk relies heavily on his secondary stuff and has been labeled a “junk-baller” by several scouts. Because of this  many wonder if his stuff will translate against big league hitters. However, at every level Wilk continues to post eye-popping statistics. Regardless of his lack of flashy stuff Wilk always seems to get things done.

Most would agree that Wilk has a ceiling of a back of the rotation starter. I could also see him in a long reliever/mop-up role. As harsh as that sounds it’s more realistic than believing that his stuff  will continue to produce in higher levels.

That being said, Wilk continues to defy the odds and put up solid numbers at every stop. I hate to be so borderline with his projection but he is a tricky case to crack. Solely based on numbers he looks legit. Observing him in person you wonder how long he can continue to play see ball-hit ball. He has the make-up of a pitcher who you could see turning into a crafty finesse pitcher like Kenny Rogers. Yet, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit a brick-wall once the competition improves in AAA. He’s only 23 and holding his own in Spring Training so I am excited to see what Wilk can do this season.

After his brief cup of coffee with the Sea Wolves at the end of last season It’s reasonable to expect him to begin the season in AA-Erie. The hitter friendly park should give us a little more insight on what to expect from the contact pitcher-who to this point has a solid track record of keeping the ball in the park.

Keep an eye on Adam Wilk as he continues to earn his stripes down on the farm.

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Tags: Adam Wilk Down On The Farm

  • Ben

    Yes, or he starts on the Tigers.

  • StephenGrosberg

    Bravo!!! Join Lynn Henning and myself on Wilk. Once again you find rising stars early on. I liked him starting in Oneonta. Why the other writers are slow with 87 fastballs when the stats are so impressive is beyond me. Why people don’t realize that control is far more important is beyond me. A fastball without control is a waste. Control on a fastball can be improved, which Dan Schlereth IS proving. Add Robbie Weinhardt to Schlereth to my preferred list Schlereth/Weinhardt not Perry yet.

  • Scott Tameling

    I’ve also been keeping my eye on Adam Wilk since he arrived in 2009 and blew through Oneonta and West Michigan with sub 2.00 ERA’s. His .814 WHIP and eye popping .9 walks/9 innings revealed his excellent control. However, we’ve had many pitchers through the years put up stellar stats in the lower minors only to hit a wall when they reached AA and AAA (most recently, see Jon Kibler). Last year, he fell back to earth a bit in Lakeland, “only” posting a 3.01 ERA, but was lights out in 3 starts in Erie.

    Because of his continued success at each level, I’ve been oscillating back and forth over actually how bright his future is. Is he destined to be merely a long reliever or could he possibly be a bottom rotation guy? Or will he hit the wall like Kibler did? Whatever the future holds, he certainly is an intriguing figure presently, as we fans try to predict how our rotation will shape up in the next few years. JV, Max, Rick, Turner, Oliver, and then throw in names like Wilk, Crosby, Furbush, Villarreal, and wait for it…Cole Nelson – yes, you heard it here first. It’s an exciting time to be a Tiger fan. As they say, you can never have enough pitching!

    • jayrc

      I agree Scott. I was pretty excited about Kibler too. Unfortunately he didn’t develope like many of us anticipated. I am VERY excited about Cole Nelson too. I was only able to see one of his starts last season in Lakeland but I was very impressed. I hope that he starts in Lakeland so I can get a better look at his stuff.

    • stephengrosberg

      JAYRC, you’ve attracted some very intelligent fans to your site. Maybe Hack Johnson will find this site when you’re posting. I’m looking forward to future comments and the stars of the future. The Tigers have the potential of a Championship if they keep doing what they’re doing. There’ll be DLs to provide opportunities if they’re too slow now.

  • stephengrosberg

    Agree on Cole Nelson too. Add in Drew Smyly, Chance Ruffin, and Alex Burgos. Matt Little and Shawn Teufel are really early. Don’t be concerned about Wilk. Stats will tell the story. The invite to Spring Training shows the Tigers are watching. Congrats DD for seeing the depth and not signing or trading for overpriced players. Why repeat Erie when he put up fantastic #’s. It’t either the Tigers with Zumaya DL or Toledo. Erie was 2-0 1.14 23 inn. 10 hits 14 K vs. 5 BB. Congrats JAYRC for anticipating the potential of the rising stars. Now you can move to “What the Tigers should do, not just what they will do.” Wilk as #7 is my “should do.”

    • jayrc

      Thanks for the kind remarks Stephen.

    • wilsonm24

      The reason he will probably start at Erie and not Toledo is because 23IP for a starting pitcher isn’t really enough to gauge how he performed. Although, his performances are Spring Training are showing that he might very well deserve to be at Toledo to start the year. If I had to make a guess I would say AA with a call up half-way through the year if he continues his solid pitching.

      Keep watching and have a little patience, I would rather they were a little slow to promote than too quick.

      • StephenGrosberg

        I’m more interested in what the Tigers SHOULD do rather than what they will do. He’d be my #7 with the Tigers with Zumaya DL. In my opinion, he’s earned at least Toledo in ST. Unfortunately, it will always be harder for him because almost no one fully realizes just how good he is. Zumaya vs. Wilk, or Brad Thomas vs Wilk, no question. I plan for the future. I’d even consider Furbush or Villarreal, depending on how they perform in Toledo. I liked how they improved in ST. I really like the comments on this site, even though I might disagree.

  • Tigers53

    Excellent article Jayrc. I have seen that he was pitching in spring training, but must admit i knew nothing about him. Thanks for the article. Keep up the good work.

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