Home News Jacob Wilson, Homer Bush Jr. lead Grand Canyon to Desert Invitational win

Jacob Wilson, Homer Bush Jr. lead Grand Canyon to Desert Invitational win

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – There was no easing into the 2023 college baseball season for Grand Canyon’s Jacob Wilson. Just three innings into Game 2 of the MLB Desert Invitational, MLB Pipeline’s No. 9 Draft prospect dove headlong into the stands down the third-base line in an attempt to snare a popup, a la Derek Jeter.

Wilson, named a preseason All-American and to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List, was removed from the game in the bottom of the fourth due to precautionary reasons, per Grand Canyon head coach Gregg Wallis. After favoring his left wrist and being checked on by the training staff, Wilson stayed in the game and threw out a runner in the third before taking his at-bat – a lineout to center – in the top of the fourth.

“I thought his favorite player was his dad, but I guess it’s Derek Jeter,” Wallis quipped about the son of former big league shortstop Jack Wilson. After the game, both Wilson and Wallis insisted the shortstop was fine.

In the top of the first, Wilson, a mesmerizingly difficult hitter to strike out (he whiffed in just 2.5% of his plate appearances as a sophomore), appeared to have punchout No. 1 in at-bat No. 1 of the year. After a quick umpire conference, he earned another pitch and didn’t miss, roping an RBI triple to left field that set off an Antelopes scoring deluge en route to a 12-4 win over UC San Diego at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Friday afternoon.

“Throughout high school, my dad always kind of built in: ‘Striking out is not OK,’” Wilson said. “I’ve always never been OK with striking out.”

To say that Wilson is the premier bat in the 2023 Draft class wouldn’t be a stretch: he is the lone hitter – high school or college – to earn a 65-grade (on the 20-80 scale) for his hitting ability. That skilled bat is a reason many evaluators believe he is destined to come off the board early come July.

As a sophomore, Wilson slashed .358/.418/.585 and collected 65 RBIs in 59 games, earning first-team All-WAC honors last year. He added a two-RBI single in the top of the second, picking up in the run-production column where he left off last year. He’s proven to be a two-way catalyst for Grand Canyon whose stick-to-itiveness was on full display for all of his opening act in 2023.

“He wants to be at the plate to drive in big runs, he wants to be at the plate to commit to contact – he’s a really, really good player and that’s what he shows every time he takes the field,” Wallis said.

Grand Canyon’s roster boasts some impressive familial connections with six players having fathers who played in the big leagues. Aside from Jacob and father Jack, there is Homer Bush Jr. (Homer), Tyler Wilson (Steve), Kan Taguchi (So), Isaac Lyon (Brandon) and Nick Arias (George).

While advice has been doled out across the board, Wilson’s father, Jack, a 12-year Major Leaguer, serves as an assistant coach for the ‘Lopes, imparting wisdom to a roster that has College World Series aspirations.

“I think he’s brought great energy,” the younger Wilson said of his father. “Our guys love being around him – very, very knowledgeable. So to be able to have him out here, especially not even just as a dad, as a coach as well, it’s very beneficial for our team.”

Wilson’s defensive energy clearly carried over, as Homer Bush Jr. – a fellow Top 100 Draft prospect – hauled in the catch of the day in the bottom of the fifth, zooming into the left-center-field gap and going airborne to thwart the Tritons of extra bases.

“There was a point where I saw it and I said, ‘I’m just going to have to put my head down and run,’” Bush said. “And last second, almost like a receiver, just shot my hands [out]. … I was just trying to make a play for my pitcher.”

Alongside his defensive escapades, Bush served as an offensive catalyst and notched a trio of hits – including an RBI triple – and stole two bags.

“It’s just watching his growth and development that has been another really rewarding thing for me,” said Wallis, who earned his first victory at the helm for GCU. “I really feel like he hasn’t even reached the ceiling of where he can go in this game and it’s pretty special to watch him every day.”

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