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Brewers acquire Bryse Wilson from Pirates, designate Trevor Kelley for assignment

Former Braves prospect will get a chance to crack Milwaukee’s opening day roster

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Brewers have acquired right-handed pitcher Bryse Wilson from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced on Wednesday. Reliever Trevor Kelley was designated for assignment to make room for Wilson on the 40-man roster.

Wilson was a fourth-round pick by the Atlanta Braves in the 2016 draft and was once considered one of their top prospects. He has failed to parlay his prospect pedigree into big-league results, as he has posted a 5.54 ERA in 232 13 career innings.

Those struggles are due in part to a decline in Wilson’s stuff. He was a hard thrower in the minor leagues, but his velocity has steadily decreased since he made his big-league debut. His average fastball velocity has gone from nearly 95 mph in 2018 to 92 mph last season.

The Braves traded Wilson to the Pirates in a 2021 trade deadline deal for reliever Richard Rodriguez. He spent the entirety of the 2022 season in Pittsburgh, appearing in 25 games (20 starts) and posting a 5.52 ERA and 5.06 FIP.

That performance added to his body of underwhelming work on the mound, but there are some signs that Wilson could become a respectable back-of-the-rotation arm moving forward.

Over his first nine outings, Wilson struggled mightily to an 8.29 ERA and 5.25 FIP. That prompted him to shake up his pitch mix in July, leaning heavily on his sinker rather than his four-seamer and throwing his slider more often. He made another adjustment in the season’s final month, throwing a more balanced mix of his two fastballs and introducing a new splitter.

The changes brought improved results. Over his final 16 outings, Wilson pitched to a 4.39 ERA and 4.98 FIP.

While those are still below-average marks when accounting for his pitcher-friendly home stadium of PNC Park, Wilson also showed encouraging signs under the hood. His command of the strike zone improved, as he increased his first-pitch strike rate by nearly eight percentage points and cut his walk rate nearly in half. He also reduced his rate of line drives allowed from 26.1% to 19.9%

Wilson still has a ways to go before he can be considered an effective back-of-the-rotation arm, but he’s still just 25 years old and showed signs of progress in the second half. With a few more tweaks, he could help the Brewers out in the rotation or the bullpen.

Wilson is out of minor league options, meaning the club will have to expose him to waivers if he doesn’t crack the roster out of spring training.