PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 20: Bryse Wilson #72 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 20, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Bryse Wilson’s splendid spring continues versus Cardinals

Wilson tossed four scoreless innings Tuesday, allowing one hit, in a 5-0 win over the Cardinals. He was aggressive and in command, throwing 41 of 56 pitches for strikes while retiring five via strikeout and walking one. 

The biggest improvment: how Wilson manipulates his change-up. Even a year ago, he could only rely on his fastball and slider. His change-up, which was “nonexistent” when he joined the Braves system in 2016, has been phenomenally developed by the organization, Wilson said, adding the most important factor in its growth was him finding the right grip.

“The development of my change-up has been tremendous,” Wilson said. “Throughout the offseason, it felt good. The feeling was good. I was just able to really develop that pitch. The slider’s come along well. The fastball has been good, but the command was a lot better today.”

Wilson has registered zeros in three of his four starts. The lone blemish came in his third outing, when the Blue Jays opened the afternoon with back-to-back home runs. Wilson was unable to complete an inning that day, but his other performances have been at least two frames.

Bench coach Walt Weiss, who’s filling in for manager Brian Snitker while he is away on a personal matter, pointed out that Wilson’s slider is worth accounting for, too.

“I really liked Bryse’s slider today,” Weiss said. “He had a really good slider today. When you have three weapons, it makes it really tough on hitters. I thought he cruised through the outing and was in control the entire time. Really nice job by Bryse.”

Of all the debuts 2018 ushered, Wilson’s was among the best. He was unexpectedly promoted to start the Braves’ opener in Pittsburgh, when he proceeded with five scoreless innings. Wilson, then 20 and less than five months removed from Single-A, became the youngest starter to win a 1-0 game.

At times, Wilson can be lost in the mix of talent. Like most of his colleagues, he’ll unquestionably play a part on the 2019 Braves. As has become the usual case, he nor the team know to what degree.

“I think we’re reaping the reward of stockpiling the organization with arms the last couple years,” Weiss said. “And they’re as (good) as advertised. The starting pitching depth, in particular, it’s such a valuable asset in this game. It’s hard to acquire. It’s really nice to have that.”

The likeliest outcome is Wilson starting the season in Triple-A Gwinnett, just a tweaked elbow or sixth-day start away from the majors. He’s willing to operate as a reliever if necessary – the team used him there during last season’s stretch run – though his development probably benefits more from routine outings at Gwinnett.

“I’ve pitched well,” Wilson said. “Of course, all the other guys have pitched well, so we’re all making each other better and learning from each other. I’m not too worried about that. Just going out there and throwing as well as I can.”

“Whatever they need me to do is perfectly fine by me.”

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