It’s easy to envision Seattle Mariners second-round pick Austin Wilson in shoulder pads and a helmet.
He’s 6 feet 5 inches and 245 pounds. Big enough that when he went to see a doctor the Mariners share with the Seattle Seahawks, everyone assumed he was a tight end.
The former Stanford Cardinal is a right-handed-hitting outfielder whom the Mariners picked 49th overall in the draft two weeks ago. Wilson has signed a contract and is expected to make his pro debut Monday with the Single-A Everett AquaSox.
Wilson took batting practice in Safeco Field on Friday. He hit several home runs to left field but did not achieve his goal of hitting one into the second deck.
Still, his easy power shown in front of general manager Jack Zduriencik and amateur scouting director Tom McNamara have the Mariners wondering whether Wilson will be a steal.
Heading into his junior season at Stanford, Wilson was a preseason first team All-America, according to Baseball America.
He ended up with a small crack at the tip of his right (throwing) elbow that kept him out for seven weeks. Many industry analysts believe that’s what pushed him out of the first round.
Wilson hit .288 with five home runs in 118 at-bats last season.
“You kind of play all of your college career to have a really great junior season. Kind of didn’t go the way I wanted,” Wilson said.
He also said his elbow is healed.
Often, a Stanford enrollee could be the smartest person in the family. Though Wilson majored in science, technology and society at Stanford, his parents likely own the title of smartest folks in the family. Wilson’s father went to MIT, his mother to Stanford. Each also has an MBA from Harvard.
WALKER MOVIN’ UP
The Mariners promoted right-handed pitching prospect Taijuan Walker to Tacoma on Friday.
Walker was 4-7 with a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 84 innings with Double-A Jackson this year. He will make his Tacoma debut on Tuesday against Fresno.
“We feel that Taijuan has accomplished his goals at Double-A and it’s time for the next step in his career,” Zduriencik said.
Walker leads the Southern League in strikeouts and is seventh in ERA. He was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Mariners.
HULTZEN ON THE MEND
Another Mariners pitching prospect is making progress, too.
Danny Hultzen, who had a left rotator cuff strain, will throw five innings Saturday in Arizona. If it goes well, he will pitch Thursday for the Rainiers.
Hultzen had a 2.78 ERA for the Rainiers in four starts before being shut down. Opponents were hitting .198 against him, and he appeared heading for the struggling back end of the Mariners’ rotation.
PRYOR’S ROAD BACK
Mariners reliever Stephen Pryor (tear of his right lat, in the back trunk of the upper body) threw in the Safeco Field outfield Friday. He said his lat is fully healed. Next for Pryor is regaining his arm strength.
There is no timetable for his return, though the Mariners hope to get him throwing from a mound as part of his rehab during this eight-game homestand.
Oakland will put right-hander Dan Straily (4-2, 4.97 ERA) on the mound against Aaron Harang (3-7, 5.28) at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.