Wilson ready to run in South Bend

South Bend Tribune | Zach Klonsinski

Originally posted here
Photo courtesy of South Bend Tribune

 

SOUTH BEND — Newsflash: D.J. Wilson is fast.

The last time the new South Bend Cubs center fielder was clocked running a 60-yard dash — three years ago, at the East Coast Pro Showcase, when he was just 17 — he stopped the watch in 6.37 seconds.

“Only gotten faster since then,” the 20-year-old Canton, Ohio, native emphasized at South Bend’s media day Tuesday.

For comparison, Angels star Mike Trout reportedly runs a 6.4.

“Just the couple days I did see him (at Spring Training), you know he’s fast,” third-year Cubs manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. “It’s impressive.”

That speed is Wilson’s most dangerous asset, and it will be on display when the team plays an exhibition game Wednesday against Notre Dame at Four Winds Field.

South Bend then heads to Comstock Park, Mich., for Opening Day and a two-game series against West Michigan Thursday and Friday before the Cubs host the Whitecaps for a pair at Four Winds Field on Saturday and Sunday to kick off South Bend’s 2017 home slate.

Wilson — listed at a generous 5-foot-11, 170 pounds — swiped 21 bases in 29 attempts and scored 37 runs in just 64 games last summer playing for the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs’ short-season affiliate.

“(My speed) allows me to be more aggressive,” said the left-handed Wilson. “Bigger leads, maybe a base hit to right turns into a double.

“I like to play it aggressively.”

“You use (speed) to your advantage,” Gonzalez said. “It will wreak havoc on the defense. Speed does kill. It rushes defenses and creates bad throws and errors.”

The speed also translates to the defensive side of Wilson’s game, enabling him to cover more ground and prevent runners from taking the extra base.

Originally committed to Vanderbilt, Wilson instead chose pro ball and a $1.3 million signing bonus after being drafted by Chicago in the fourth round (113th overall) out of Canton South High School in the 2015 first-year player draft.

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