Jacob Wilson and his father, former 12-year MLB veteran Jack Wilson, had a tradition of going to different Dave and Buster’s arcades and saving up their tickets to buy Tristar Hidden Treasure autographed baseballs. A few days after Jacob received his first Division-I baseball offer from Grand Canyon University, they made one of those visits and ended up talking about colleges.
Jack owned a degree from GCU and thought the Christian university would be a great fit for Jacob. Later, when they opened their prize that day, their baseball was signed by former Silver Slugger and 1993 American League Rookie of the Year Tim Salmon — who happens to be the best major leaguer to ever come out of GCU.
Being a family of faith, the Wilsons believed it was a sign from God.
“You just gotta follow what God’s telling you right now,” Jack told Jacob after they opened the baseball.
Jacob Wilson to GCU. The story behind the story.
— Grand Canyon Baseball (@GCU_Baseball) April 20, 2023
That baseball effectively ended the recruiting process for Jacob, who arrived at Grand Canyon in 2021.
“At that point, the decision was made for us,” Jack recently told MLB.com. “We have a life of faith. Our family is based on our faith in Christ, and there are definitely signs if we pay attention.”
Aside from the urging of his dad, one of the main reasons Jacob chose GCU was the school’s faith-based culture. He wanted to go to a school that would help him continue to grow closer to God.
“I really wanted to find a place that put God first and continue my relationship growing with Jesus,” he told GCU.
Jack joined the program as an assistant coach ahead of the 2023 season, watching up close as Jacob became one of the top prospects in college baseball, hitting .411 this past season and only striking out 31 times in 620 career plate appearances. He was a consensus All-American in 2023 and a three-time All-WAC first-team selection.
The Oakland Athletics took him with the sixth overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft on Sunday. He leaves GCU as the program’s all-time leader in hits (224) and RBIs (155), as well as the school’s highest-ever draft pick.
𝗝𝗔𝗖𝗢𝗕 𝗪𝗜𝗟𝗦𝗢𝗡 𝗧𝗢 𝗧𝗛𝗘 @Athletics!
— Grand Canyon Baseball (@GCU_Baseball) July 9, 2023
“It’s a dream come true for sure,” Jacob said after getting picked. “This is a moment I’ve been waiting for a long time now. I’m super excited to hear my name called. I’m super thankful for my family and friends who supported me throughout this entire process.”
Athletics general manager David Forst said that Jacob’s defense and ability to make contact with the ball stood out to the organization.
“We’re incredibly excited to have Jacob,” Forst said. “We really believe Jacob is a unique player. He has a unique skill in putting the bat on the ball. This is a kid with outstanding defensive skills at shortstop. A kid who spent a lot of time in a major league clubhouse and around his dad, who taught him the game. When you put it all together, it’s an incredibly exciting package for someone we feel really confident is a major league player.”
Even though he grew up in major league clubhouses, Jacob was not thinking about following in Jack’s footsteps when he was a kid. He played baseball because he loved the game and didn’t necessarily expect a day like Sunday to come.
“I never really saw it as a possible job in the future for me,” he said in April. “It was just something that I always loved going out there and doing, just being able to compete on the baseball field. That’s just always been something that I’ve really just loved.”
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