Pirates Prospect Interview: Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the Pirates out of Fresno State. After being selected, Wilson led Fresno State to the NCAA National Championship. The 22-year old lefty missed the 2008 season after signing so late, and pitched at Lynchburg this season compiling a 6-8 record with a 4.50 ERA. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko spoke with Wilson recently.

GVB -- This was your first year of pro baseball, how do you rate your performance this season?

JW -- I had a very good second half and I was very happy with how that went and how the team played as well, we ended up winning the Carolina League championship. I felt like I came into my own a little bit in the second half.

GVB -- You got to pitch in the College World Series and now in the Carolina League playoffs, where you posted a 1-1 mark with a 1.69 ERA. Can you compare the two experiences?

JW -- Playing in the College World Series was awesome and I'll never be able to forget that, but playoffs in pro ball were a little different. We had two five game series, so we were going to face their best guy in game one and go from there. We played Wilmington the first series, and they were a pretty good ball club and we had played them quite a few times through out the year. It was a great series and we came up big in a couple of games there. We moved on to the championship series against Salem. I really enjoyed playing in those games and playing for a championship.

GVB -- Was the playoff experience good for your mental toughness as a pitcher?

JW -- I think those games emotionally they had a lot more going for them. Everyone wants to win a playoff game and you always want to get there, but once you are there it's time to win and time to compete. That's always a big thing during playoffs; it brings out the best in everybody.

GVB -- You struggled during the first half of the season, what was the reason for the turnaround in the second half?

JW -- I think I finally got comfortable with what I was doing, and what I was trying to do. I stopped trying to make big changes and just went out there and did what I knew how to do. It was a lot of little things, going out there and being able to throw the ball in the strike zone and attack hitters and not worry about the other things. Just go out there and pitch. Getting back to the basics really helped me in the second half.

GVB -- Throwing strikes was a big change in the second half you had better command didn't you?

JW -- That was really big for me in the second half, getting ahead of the hitters and then getting them to hit my pitch and not throw them something that is easy for them to handle. It really pays of when you throw strikes and my second half numbers were so much better when I was getting ahead and throwing strikes.

GVB -- Tell us about your pitch arsenal?

JW -- I have a changeup, which has actually been a great pitch for me, and I really learned how to throw that and it's probably my second best pitch now. I guess I just have one breaking pitch now and it's in between a curveball and a slider, a pretty hard slurve. I also have the four seam fastball.

GVB -- You went to instructional league, what did they have you working on?

JW -- I'm probably going to get back to my two seam fastball and bring it back into spring training, it's not a pitch I want to rely on, I felt like I've had success with my four seam fastball and I've been able to pitch to contact with that. But I'll get the two seamer back and it's just another weapon to use. We are working on tweaking a few things in my mechanics and repeating my delivery and watching film on that.

GVB -- Do you have a timetable and are you happy with your progress toward the big leagues?

JW -- Everyone wants to move and everyone's goal is to make it to the big leagues and to be able to win up there and to be able to stay up there. That's what I'm trying to do and I'm trying to do everything I can to keep on my path through the minor leagues and just keep on the right path and make it to the big leagues eventually. It's all a process and I'm sure that there are things they want me to do to move to the next level.

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