This is the last draft profile I actually wrote just a few days after the College season was shut down. There are quite a few more guys that I had scouted heavily and have detailed notes on, but I gave up writing about them once the season was called and the Draft was in jeopardy. You can read about the other 25 guys I wrote up in our 2020 Draft Profile Library.
That being said, I really like Wilcox. He is another guy that shouldn’t be there when the Royals select at 32. However, if he is the Royals could in theory end up with Hancock and Wilcox. Wouldn’t that be crazy? Anyway, onto the draft profile.
Cole Wilcox would be almost any team in the country’s ace and Friday night guy. But, he is behind Emerson Hancock who might be the first pitcher drafted in the 2020 MLB Draft. The Georgia Bulldogs struck gold developing both Hancock and Wilcox. Unfortunately for them, the season was cut short and they didn’t get a chance to see how deep two aces could take them into the College World Series.
Wilcox looks the part as an opposing hitter walks to the plate eyeing hard throwing righty. Wilcox throws gas, works fast, and has an intimidating presence standing 6’5” tall on top of the mound. He works the first base side of the rubber and even though his release is smooth, has a little bit of a robotic windup. There is just a little herk and jerk in there, but not like some other guys who rely on that to be deceptive. Wilcox uses a simple leg lift working his hands with his leg. He is very business-like and you can tell he is in control.
Wilcox routinely touches 97 in his starts but seems to hover around 95 most of the time. He can locate his fastball on both sides of the plate and easily gets into right-handed hitters. Wilcox can also work his fastball both up and down. At times, he tends to leave it elevated but he has such good velocity and deception that he easily gets away with it and should continue that at the next level. Wilcox gets swings and misses with his fastball. This pitch is really a big weapon for him.
He also throws a hard-moving slider. The pitch is fantastic getting both right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters to swing and miss. He can throw the slider for a strike, backdoor it against a lefty, buckle a righty, bury it against either, and back foot it against a lefty. There isn’t anything he can’t do with this pitch. It has 11-5 movement from the catcher’s perspective and falls off the table. He throws it from 84 up to 89 and hitters have a really hard time seeing it. The crazy thing about the slider is that it usually gets better as the game goes along.
Wilcox also throws a really good change up. The pitch acts almost like a screwball at times breaking hard to his arm side and dropping at the same time. Wilcox can really turn this pitch over and get swings and misses from the left-handed hitters. I did not see Wilcox throw this pitch against any right-handed hitters in the few starts I watched this year but remember that his coaches call pitches for him. At times I felt the change up had too much movement because it froze hitters and they didn’t pull the trigger and the pitch dropped away from the zone. Wilcox can use this as a chase pitch as well as just a get-me-over.
Wilcox easily overpowers a lot of hitters. In my early notes, I wrote that he was getting away with this pitch and needed more finesse with the command. Of course, there is not much to dissuade you from drafting Wilcox if you get the chance, but I wanted to be fair to put any concerns out there on the top pitchers because so little separates them from each other.
One other concern I had is that his three pitches don’t have a big enough velocity separation between them. The slider works 84 to 89 while the change up also works 83 to 88. It would be nice if he was able to find a curve that was 76 to 82 just to give him another velocity separation. Again, he doesn’t have to do this to be successful, it’s just a suggestion to help you separate him from other guys at the top end of this draft.
Wilcox did get ambushed a few times in multiple starts, but again, he doesn’t call his own pitches and I feel like he would be able to do something about this if he and his catcher were preparing for each start instead of a pitching coach. I really think that Wilcox is one of the top arms in this draft and that he will be better with a different approach to calling pitches.
Out of the stretch Wilcox put up good times to the plate without losing velocity. He tends to use a quick leg lift but I would like to see him mix it up more in pro ball. His pick off was solid and he didn’t use it much.
Wilcox is one of the top arms in this draft and I think he can have a really long career in the majors. He challenges hitters, has a bulldog mentality, and his body fits the part to be at the top of a major league rotation someday.
Image from the Times Free Press. No photo credit was given.