“Precision Tayloring” Rookie Report: The Zack Wheeler Edition
For the love of everything that is Mets, the “Super Two” arbitration date(s) is(are) quickly passing us by and so marks the time of the year when we start to see teams call up some top prospects to either help them push their way into the playoffs or to give the front office and coaching staff a look at what type of player they may have for the next 3-6 years. With the Mets currently sitting 14 games under .500 and 13.5 games behind division leader Atlanta, the call up for Wheeler is going to lean more towards the latter, though mathematically the Mets are still in it. From a pure baseball standpoint Wheeler should have broken camp with the Mets and have been a part of the rotation since opening day (hell maybe you wouldn’t be 14 games under .500). Saving a year of arbitration on Wheeler is smart piled on top of more smart though when you consider the deal the Mets made to bring Wheeler to NY (half a season of Beltran for Wheeler straight up.). We are watching the cyclic nature of rebuilding baseball franchises happen right before our very eyes as Wheeler looks to join Harvey a top of the Mets rotation starting with Tuesday @Atlanta and continuing (hopefully) for the next 5-10 years.
H/W: 6′ 4″/185 LBS
2013 Minor League stats: 4-2/68.2 IP/ 3.93 ERA/ 1.28 WHIP/ 73K-27BB in 13 starts @AAA Las Vegas.
Mechanics: Wheeler does a good job at using his sturdy 6’4″ frame to extend out with his lift leg keeping above average to plus balance throughout pitch release which combined with his plus-plus torque generated from a delay in trunk rotation and the heavy scapular load he carries into foot plant helps explain the easy life and velocity that he constantly carries on his fastball. Wheeler will display above average posture though the times throughout his career when he has lost his command, his posture and ability to finish through on the delivery have been the main culprits. The health of Wheeler’s shoulders is definitely something to pay attention to throughout his career, for if he has to alter his delivery to lessen some of the load on his shoulders at the rotational phase of his delivery due to injury then he may lose some of the velocity and even some release distance (in terms of distance from home plate) as he releases the pitch. His shoulders to this point have held up just fine (391.1 minor league IP) and I have pretty high hopes that they will continue to be fine throughout his major league career. Wheeler has the kind of free and easy delivery with the prototypical power pitcher arsenal that just screams staff ace. Mechanically there is nothing stopping Wheeler from achieving that lofty ceiling.
- Fastball will sit 94-97 and consistently touch elite velocities. Good late action in on righties, away from lefties. Only complaint is on command. Will leave pitch up in the zone more than you would like though he still ends up blowing it past most hitters. Big strikeout fastball
- True out-pitch curveball. Big 12-6 breaking action, very nice depth and rotation on it. Can get hitters to chase out of zone or finish it in the bottom of the zone to catch hitters looking. Will be true weapon at major league level and almost impossible to hit on days when he really has a feel for it.
- Slider plays above average and features nice rotation and good cutting action on it. Has impeccable control of and will spot in and out of the zone. It reminds you a lot like fellow teammate Matt Harvey’s slider.
- Change-up easily his 4th best pitch. Plays average to slightly above that, can command it but will lose movement and fading action on it trying to overthrow it.
Wheeler should be picked up and added in any league of any size, even ten team regular mixed leagues. He should already have been owned to this point in any keeper or dynasty leagues especially since the rumors of his call-up and the injuries and well ineffectiveness of some of the starters in the Mets rotation were keeping Wheeler’s name in the news and on the call-up horizon. Wheeler should put up solid K numbers while trying to squeeze wins out from a horrible Mets offense and he has really improved on his command since the beginning of the year when he was adjusting to the offensive inflating environment of the PCL. If he is still available in your league for some reason then by god hop on the train while you still have a chance. Because the wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’. If you know what I mean.
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