Zack Wheeler is the newest Mets prospect to enter the system after he was acquired for all-star outfielder Carlos Beltran this past summer. He came over from the San Francisco Giants where he was rated as their top overall prospect. Let’s learn a little more about our newest top pitching prospect.
What is the Book on Wheeler? Zack Wheeler is a hard-throwing righthander out of East Paulding High School in Georgia. He is tall at 6’3, has broad shoulders and loose arm action. He was drafted 6th overall by the Giants back in 2009. The start to his pro career was set back a bit as he cracked a fingernail after recording just one out in his pro debut. The persistent issue regarding his fingernail turned out to be good thing for him because it forced him to work on smoothing out his mechanics. As a result he got on more of a direct line with the plate and cut down the effort in his delivery. The extensive work on his mechanics allowed him to have much better command near the bottom of the strike zone.
Where is he ranked? With the new 2012 ranking recently released, Wheeler is ranked as 28th overall prospect in the game according Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Last season he was ranked by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo as the 10th best right handed pitching prospect in all of baseball.
So What Does He Throw? Wheeler throws a fastball with movement that sits in the 92-94 mph range, but can touch as high as 95-97. He throws a plus overhand curveball, that has become tighter and more consistent. His changeup became functional toward the end of the season, but at this time is not major league ready. If he can develop this pitch more, he can really reach his full potential as a possible front-middle of the rotation starter.
What Are His strengths: His fastball and his breaking ball are plus pitches, and are pretty much major league ready right now. He is a strikeout pitcher, as evidence by his 168 strikeouts in just 146 innings pitched. He also did not allow a home run in 58 innings during his first professional season. Even though he still very raw, some scouts believe that he could be in the majors today as a mid-back of the rotation starter.
What Are His Potential Weaknesses? At this point in time, Wheeler is a raw talent. He has some work to do on his command, which he has struggled with so far in his brief pro career. In low-A in 2010 he posted an atrocious 5.83 BB/9. In 2011 he had 47 walks in 88 innings while he was with the Giants Organization which is a little alarming. However once he came to the Mets, he walked just 5 batters and struck out 31 in in 27 innings over 6 starts. He is continually working on his command and making adjustments in this area to improve his control. Standing 6’3 he has the height for a major league starter, but at just 180 lbs he needs to bulk up a bit to be able to carry a big league starters workload.
What does Paul Depodesta think about him? He said that Zack has the farm system’s “best wipe out stuff.” ”If a hitter has two strikes, he’s probably the most dangerous,”.
In my opinion when the trade was made I thought it was a total steal for the Mets. Now seeing that he made some adjustments that helped his command right after he got here has me even more excited. Furthermore, he continues to climb the top prospect lists showing his potential is growing. Wheeler instantly threw himself into the mix as the number 1 or 2 prospect in the Mets farm system alongside Harvey, Some people will debate you either way. The way I see it is that we currently have 2 number 1 prospects. Frankly, I don’t care who gets tabbed as number 1 as long as they both live up to the billing. Here’s to hoping Wheeler and Harvey can become a formidable 1-2 punch in the Mets starting rotation by 2013 or 2014.