Preston James Richard Wilson (born July 19, 1974 in Bamberg, South Carolina) is an outfielder for a Professional league team on the Long Island Ducks. He is both the nephew and stepson of former New York Mets star Mookie Wilson. (Mookie married Preston's mother after his brother fathered Preston.)
New York Mets
At age 17, he was drafted by the Mets out of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School in the first round of the 1992 amateur draft. The Baseball America 1992 High School Player of the Year, Wilson was ranked among the top 100 prospects in baseball by the magazine four times between 1993 and 1998. He is known to be an aggressive hitter, according to scouts and media sources, based on his propensity to swing at the first pitch and his high strikeout rates.
After spending five seasons below Triple A, Wilson finally reached the majors in May 1998, but just two weeks after joining the Mets, he was traded to the Florida Marlins with two other minor leaguers for Mike Piazza. He returned to the minor leagues for most of the season.
In 1999, he was the Marlins' regular center fielder. Wilson led the team in home runs and runs batted in as a rookie, and he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting to Cincinnati Reds reliever Scott Williamson. The following season, Wilson joined the 30-30 club, slugging 31 home runs and stealing 36 bases. He added 121 RBIs, good for eighth in the National League. Wilson also lived up to his reputation as a free swinger, nearly setting a new record for most strikeouts in a season. His total of 187 fell two shy of Bobby Bonds' record at the time. (Adam Dunn later broke the strikeout record with 195). Wilson hit 23 home runs in each of the following two seasons, though his overall production dipped, partially due to missed games.
After the 2002 season, Wilson was involved in a six player deal which sent him and three others to the Colorado Rockies for Juan Pierre and Mike Hampton. Wilson rebounded in 2003, leading the National League with 141 runs batted in. He belted 36 home runs, and he was named to his first all-star team.
Bothered by a knee injury in 2004, Wilson was limited to 58 games, affecting his power numbers.
He was acquired by the Washington Nationals in July 2005 for pitcher Zach Day and outfielder J. J. Davis. He led the team in homers and RBIs during the second half of the season, finishing with 25 and 90 respectively.
In the 2005 offseason, Wilson signed a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Houston Astros, with a team option of three additional years at $24 million and a buyout of $500,000. Previously a center fielder, Wilson shifted to left since Willy Taveras, the previous season's Rookie of the Year runner-up, was already occupying the position. On April 17, 2006, Wilson set an Astros record by striking out five times in a single game. This tied the MLB record. Despite early struggles, Wilson was batting .284 with 46 RBIs at the 2006 All-Star Break, with the potential for another 100+ RBI season. However, his power numbers were well below his previous years. He was referred to repeatedly on Houston's SportsRadio 610 as "Private Punch-out."
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals announced on August 18, 2006 that they had signed Wilson. The Cardinals took another chance on a discarded veteran since veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds was out with post concussion syndrome. Wilson was designated for assignment by Houston on Saturday, August 12, before ultimately being given his release. He joined his new team six days later and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Wilson batted sixth and played right field, with Juan Encarnación moving to center field. He made an instant impact for the Redbirds, hitting a home run in an 11–3 rout of the Chicago Cubs on the 18th. Wilson, like his stepfather Mookie in 1986, would win a World Series ring in 2006.
The Cardinals re-signed Wilson for 2007, but he suffered a knee injury in early May and missed the rest of the 2007 season. After the end of the 2007 season Wilson was released. Wilson generated little interest during spring training 2008, leaving him a free agent.
On February 14, 2009 Wilson announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. "My body just couldn't take it anymore", said Wilson.
Long Island Ducks (post-retirement)
On March 21, 2009, Preston was signed by the Long Island Ducks to play for them during the 2009 season. He will be playing under another former New York Mets player in Gary Carter, who is the manager of the Ducks.
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- 30-30 club
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- List of second generation MLB players
- Associated Press (2006-01-03). Wilson agrees to $4M, one-year deal with Astros. ESPN.com. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
- Preston Wilson: Biography and Career Highlights. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
- All-Time Top 100 Prospects. Baseball America. Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
- Scouting Report: Preston Wilson, CF, Rockies. Sporting News (2003-07-09). Retrieved on 2008-11-24.
- Wilson adds punch to Astros, Houston ChronicleTemplate:Dead link
- Nationals' notable July trades, MLB.com
- Astros 8, Brewers 7, USA Today
- Bloom, Barry M. "Big names left out in the cold this spring", MLB.com, 2 March 2008.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
|Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year
|Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie
|National League RBI Champion