For the New York Mets, all sense of optimism rests in the hands of their young pitching prospects like Zack Wheeler. But what kind of potential and future does Wheeler have, and who are his MLB comparisons?
Admittedly, it’s hard to be a New York Mets fan in 2012. Further, it’s even harder to write about this kind of time. Their player that generated the most buzz, Jose Reyes, has left ship and is now playing for the divisional rival, the Miami Marlins. The New York Mets are very young, and have yet to make much of a splash in free agency. In fact, the last time that the Mets did anything relevant at all was when they traded their All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for a top pitching prospect.
That prospect, Zack Wheeler, is slowly marinating in the minor leagues and fans are left to wonder about what his big league potential actually is.
This is a justified question, of course, for a frustrated fan base with nothing but hope in a player that few know very much about.
There are a few things that we need to understand about Zack Wheeler.
The first is that he has a killer strikeout rate, and recorded 70 K’s in 58.2 IP last season. His dominant pitch is his fastball, consistently in the low-to-mid 90s, but can be seen reaching 99 MPH in this video.This can be in part due to a deceptive and impressive curveball, which he can rely on for almost an entire inning , which is now famous for making batters look foolish.
Wheeler may not “look” like a pitcher – he has big feet, broad shoulders, and hasn’t quite grown into his 6’4” body yet as he weighs only 185 pounds and upcoming growth can potentially help him reach better command – he is highly intelligent, offers solid repetition, and had good balance on the mound.
The biggest knocks on Wheeler can be found in his accuracy and his mechanics.
His walk rate was as high as 5.8 BB/9 before his trade to the New York Mets, but since the trade this fell to 4.5 percent in 27 IP.
As for his mechanics, he has developed a timing issue that forces him to put too much stress on his throwing arm. You can see a bit of the issue developing in this video. This could lead to a critical injury for a pitcher, as one might recall with a pitcher like Mark Prior.
But as long as Wheeler can stay healthy, he has fantastic upside as a potential No. 2 potential that could develop into an ace in the next three to four years. He was the sixth overall pick in 2009, and Keith Law has him listed at the 27th overall prospect in baseball. Says baseballprospetnation.com, ““Potential number two with some All Star seasons; if third pitch or control fail to improve, he could still fit in the middle of a rotation.”
For the Mets, an MLB comparison might give us all something to look forward to.