Top 25 Returning Big 12 Baseball Players, No. 17: Nathan Wiles, Oklahoma, RHP
One of the most improved players in 2018 makes his return to Oklahoma as a draft-eligible junior this season.
Wiles dropped his ERA nearly two full points from his freshman season to his sophomore year. He accrued almost double the amount of innings worked, yet surrendered just one more walk than in 2017. The opposing batting average fluttered down 59 points to .257.
Big 12 hitters struggled even more against Wiles. In conference play, the opposing average drops to .246. The Overland Park, Kansas native pounds the strike zone and places full faith into his defense. In 48.1 innings of work against Big 12 competition, he only scrounged up 29 strikeouts. Despite the low strikeout total, he walked just eight batters and beaned only two. It’s paid dividends for him. The scary part is, he should be even better this season. The draft creates more incentive for him to pitch better, as if competing for championships and a regional berth didn’t already motivate Wiles. Additionally, he’s had another season to perfect his craft and mature.
Wiles has been named the Saturday starter for opening weekend, sandwiched between two relievers from one season ago in Cade Cavalli and Levi Prater. He has big shoes to fill as Jake Irvin has moved on to the Washington Nationals organization. With a strikeout pitcher, pressure can amount when expectations rise. As someone who places faith in his defense, the pressure is on the fielders. Wiles will continue pounding the zone, likely with better command than in 2018. If I’m an MLB scout, I’m buying Wiles stock.
For the rest of our Top 25:
No. 25: Baylor 1B/C Shea Langeliers
No. 24: WVU Utility Tyler Doanes
No. 23: WVU IF Marques Inman
No. 22: Oklahoma State OF Trevor Boone
No. 21: Baylor OF Richard Cunningham
No. 20: Kansas State OF Will Brennan
No. 19: West Virginia OF Darius Hill
No. 18: TCU LHP Nick Lodolo
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