Will Wagner had himself a very nice spring performance. Is it enough to get him to the majors soon?
- Born: July 29, 1998
- B/T: Left/Right
- 5’11”, 210-lbs
- Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft from Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA).
His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:
One things that stands out for Wagner is he gets on base, never having a time when he does poorly there. That’s due to a low strikeout rate, and a typically high walk rate. This is despite not showing that much power.
Yes, I know, I am showing a tiny spring 2023 sample not because it’s that actionable (Wagner faced basically AA-level pitching), but to show how well he did this spring and how many heads he probably turned in doing so.
The monthly splits tell us a lot more! He crushed April, and did — in some respects — even better in May. No wonder he got promoted to Double-A early in June. Not surprisingly, his first taste of AA ball didn’t go well. He had to make adjustments. Did he?
Yes, by July his typical high OBP was back, his K% and BB% numbers were terrific, and his power was on the climb.
In August he struck out a bit more, but the power kept climbing and he kept on getting on base.
In September his power reached full potential at the expense of his OBP, but it wasn’t as if he struck out 30% of the time to get that power. Though for the entire season his Hard Hit% was just 18.8%, so he’s not a slugger.
The monthly splits show a kid who adjusted to a new level, and then pushed back to reach his usual skills even at that level, and then kept pushing.
Handedness K% and BB%
A+ (vs RH): 19%K and 16%BB. (vs LH): 28%K and 16%BB.
AA (vs RH): 15%K and 12%BB. (vs LH): 28%K and 11%BB.
Wagner walks against anyone at any level, though he slowed a bit when he reached AA.
He clearly strikes out more against lefties — not to an extreme level, mind you, but just notably higher. And since his OPS was .150 – .250 higher against righties, this is a warning sign that he might get platooned in the majors if this keeps up. A good side platoon, to be sure, but just keep that in mind.
He showed power in his final month of 2022 and in spring training 2023, but is it sustainable?
Can he produce more against LHP to avoid being platooned?
He’s not a top prospect, but he’s a good prospect who does what a good prospect should do: he strives to improve his game at each level. He did pretty good at Double-A last year, and whether he starts there again this year or begins at Triple-A, he’s on the Astros’ radar now and isn’t too far away.
And yes, he is Billy Wagner’s son.