GENEVA – Marcus Wilson isn’t slow by any means, but he’s slowed his game down.
Not on the base paths or while running in the outfield, but at the plate.
Through Aug. 7, the Kane County Cougars center fielder has a .286/.380/.466 batting line, with nine home runs and 45 RBIs. He’s already established career highs in most offensive categories as he plays his first full season for the Cougars, and his slugging and home run totals are tops on the team.
“I just started to slow the game down,” he said. “I think more than anything else that’s been the difference for me. It’s really helped this season toward my development.”
Wilson played briefly for the Cougars last season, appearing in 26 games and getting 99 at bats. In his first three seasons in the minor leagues, he only hit four home runs. Now he’s hitting for power with 30 extra-base hits (16 doubles and five triples to go with the home runs) this season alone.
“I’ve heard from some guys who have only hit two or three [home runs] in their first couple of season and then suddenly they hit 20,” Wilson said. “They tell you the power is going to come, but first you have to learn to hit and that’s what I’m doing.”
While he’s slowing the game down, that doesn’t mean he’s being overly patient. Wilson is looking for the right pitch and when he gets it, he’s attacking it.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the first pitch or later [in the at-bat], when you get that pitch, you can’t miss it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s early or later in the count, you just can’t miss it. I feel like if I can do that, I’m going to be at my best.”
As far as progression, Wilson likes where he’s at now. He’ll turn 21 on Aug. 15 and has accrued some baseball wisdom befitting his age and experience.
“I feel like I’ve improved a ton since I first came out here as a 17-year-old kid,” he said. “Humility is key to getting better and to keep moving forward with my game, so I’m all right with where I’m at.”
Playing in a friendly venue in Geneva also has helped the California native feel at home.
“It beats playing in 110 degrees and with hardly anyone there watching,” he said. “It really does keep you interested in what’s going on.”
Of course, he still misses home, but those home runs are helping make up for that.
“Every year seems to go by quicker and quicker and now that we’re in the last month, I just want to finish strong,” he said. “I miss my home and family and the better weather, but I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”