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Wilkerson aims to keep rising in Red Sox system

David Driver • Updated Mar 24, 2016 at 10:30 AM

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Arizona Fall League is reserved from some of the top prospects in the game. But the league was not kind late last year to former Cumberland pitcher Aaron Wilkerson, now a prospect in the minor league system of the Boston Red Sox.

Wilkerson strained a bicep in his arm last fall in Arizona and pitched in just two games with Scottsdale.

“I was in Arizona for three weeks total and went back to Waco (Texas) and did some physical therapy stuff. I am all good now,” Wilkerson said in a recent phone interview.

Wilkerson arrived Feb. 7 in Fort Myers, the spring training home of the Red Sox minor and major league systems. Minor league players in the Boston system train near JetBlue Park at Fenway South, modeled after the Red Sox home in Boston.

Wilkerson hopes to get to Boston one day and last season was a step in the right direction.

“I started off in low-A and ended up in Double-A,” he said.

He started 2015 in the low Single-A South Atlantic League with Greenville, where he was 0-0 with an ERA of 4.76 in five games, with one start.

Wilkerson then jumped up to the high Single-A Salem (Va.) Red Sox of the Carolina League and posted a mark of 7-2, 2.96 in 17 games, with 12 starts.

That led to his second promotion of the season, as he moved on to the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs of the Eastern League.

Wilkerson, a right-hander, went 4-1 with an ERA of 2.66 in seven starts with Portland and was the Eastern League pitcher of the week Aug. 17-23.

There is only one more minor league affiliate in the Boston system: Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League.

For now Wilkerson has been used as a starter this spring with Pawtucket, though he admits a trickle-down effect from the big-league club could have him with Portland by the time rosters are announced in late March or early April. One Red Sox fan website projects him to be in the starting rotation for Portland.

“I am fine with starting in Double-A. I don’t want to end up there,” Wilkerson, an NAIA All-American at Cumberland in 2011 after going 14-1 and winning the 2010 national-championship game the season before, noted of his goal to advance to Triple-A by the end of the year.

The Red Sox top minor league teams, Portland and Pawtucket, played spring training contests Tuesday about 70 miles north in Sarasota at the spring training complex of the Baltimore Orioles.

As a starting pitcher Wilkerson did not make the trip, and instead is slated to pitch Friday in a minor league exhibition game.

One pitch that Wilkerson is working on this spring is his changeup.

“It is a feel pitch. Being shut down a little bit with my bicep, I kind of lost a feel for it but I am getting it back,” he said.

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