Justin Wilson

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Justin James Wilson

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Biographical Information[edit]

Justin Wilson helped Fresno State to its first College World Series title ever.

Wilson hit .350 in high school as a 1B/P. The Los Angeles Dodgers took him in the 37th round of the 2005 amateur draft and he went on to college instead. In 2006, Justin struck out 34 in 25 innings as a freshman and had a 3.60 ERA and no decisions. He hit .412/.474/.588 in 19 plate appearances. Moved full-time to pitching in 2007, he responded by going 9-5 with a 3.19 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 101 2/3 IP. He led the Western Athletic Conference in ERA and made the All-Conference team. Wilson fell to 8-5, 4.34 in 2008 but he saved his best for last. Called on in the final game of the 2008 College World Series, he held the University of Georgia scoreless for 7 before a Gordon Beckham solo homer and got the win as Fresno State won its first College World Series. Wilson was named to the All-Tournament team.

Prior to the 2008 CWS, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked Wilson in the 5th round of the 2008 amateur draft. After his 2008 CWS gem, Wilson and the Pirates apparently failed to come to terms. Pirates GM Neal Huntington said "He's decided he's worth a lot more than fifth-round money because of his heroics." Scouted by Sean Campbell, the club and Wilson worked out their differences as Wilson signed for a $195,000 bonus, typical for a 5th round pick.

Wilson debuted as a pro on April 10, 2009, for the Lynchburg Hillcats. He allowed 3 hits and 3 runs in five innings in a win over the Potomac Nationals.

Wilson was called up to make his debut with the Pirates on August 20, 2012, one day after the Pirates had played a 19-inning marathon against the St. Louis Cardinals that had depleted their pitching staff. He was called on to pitch in relief on his first day in the big leagues, succeeding on the mound Kyle McPherson who had made his own debut earlier in the game against the San Diego Padres. Justin recorded all three outs by strikeout in his first major league appearance, wrapped around a pair of singles.

On November 12, 2014, he was traded to the New York Yankees in return for C Francisco Cervelli. He had a solid season for the Yankees in 2015, making 74 appearances out of the bullpen with a 5-0 record and a 3.10 ERA. He also struck out 66 batters in 61 innings. However, on December 9th, he was traded again, this time to the Detroit Tigers for prospects Luis Cessa and Chad Green. He made 66 appearances for Detroit in 2016, serving as a set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez. He went 4-5, 4.14 with his first major league save and 65 Ks in 58 2/3 innings. In 2017, Rodriguez faltered and lost the closer's job, which fell into Justin's lap. He did well, with 13 saves in 15 opportunities, to go along with a record of 3-4, 2.68 in 42 games. With the Tigers starting to re-build, he became trade bait and on July 30th was sent to the Chicago Cubs along with C Alex Avila in return for two prospects, Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes.


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