Contract talks begin for Bucs' draftee

Fifth-round pick talks contract

PITTSBURGH -- Fresno State pitcher Justin Wilson is still on cloud nine after helping the Bulldogs defeat Georgia in the recent College World Series.

The lefty, who was selected by the Pirates in the fifth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, tossed eight innings and surrendered one run as Fresno State downed Georgia, 6-1, on Wednesday to capture the title. He also recorded nine strikeouts.

"It's been an awesome year and an awesome experience," Wilson said. "The 25 other guys I played with, we built relationships that will last a lifetime, and now we have this memory. I felt like I came on strong at the end of the season at the right time."

It was quite a ride for Wilson, who was Fresno State's No. 3 starter during the regular season until ace Tanner Scheppers -- who was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the Draft -- went down with a rotator cuff injury in May. Then, Clayton Allison suffered tendinitis after pitching in the super regionals, and was unavailable for the first week of the College World Series.

Wilson became the top starter, and gave up two runs in seven innings of the Bulldogs' 17-5 win against Rice in the opener. He had a no-decision in Fresno State's 4-3 loss to North Carolina, and came back on three days' rest against Georgia instead of the usual six.

"Basically, I just pounded the strike zone," Wilson said. "When you have a really good infield and outfield, like I was thankful to have this year, you just want to throw a lot of strikes down in the zone and make them hit it."

The Pirates could not discuss contracts with Wilson or Scheppers during the College World Series, but have now begun negotiations to bring Wilson into the fold.

"They contacted me, of course, after they drafted me, and I filled out the normal paperwork that you fill out when you are still playing college baseball, and we've talked just a little since," Wilson said. "They kind of let me continue playing for Fresno State, and they wanted me to go as far as we possibly could and they were rooting me on."

Wilson hopes to get his pro career started soon, and doesn't feel his workload in college will hinder him in getting back on the mound quickly.

"I think I ended up with like 118 innings or 120, but my arm feels great and fresh and ready to play baseball," Wilson said. "I don't think there is a problem with me going out and playing a little bit more."

George Von Benko is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.