The Diamondbacks are in a very unusual position for a franchise. They are a very young team with many of their key players entering their prime. They are also the defending National League West division champions, as they made the playoffs last year ahead of expectations.
Perhaps they can make a move that will help them contend and continue to develop the team for the future. They can promote Ryan Wheeler to Arizona.
Wheeler is tearing up AAA Reno. He is batting .359 in 78 games. He has 12 homers, 76 RBI, 174 total bases and has an OPS of .968. The 23-year-old has nothing left to prove in the Pacific Coast League. He should be playing in Phoenix.
But that is the question: at what position? Wheeler is primarily an outfielder but also can play first and third. The Diamondback outfield is crowded. Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Justin Upton make up a solid outfield. Chris Young is slumping but still has talent, even as a fourth outfielder. Paul Goldschmidt has taken over at first base while some combination of Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Roberts can handle third base.
Evidently Wheeler would be a man without a position. The thought process could be "why have Wheeler ride the bench in the majors when he could play every day in AAA?"
The answer could come from a slight change of perspective. Instead of seeing him as a man with no position, think of him as a man of many positions. He could indeed start three times a week, giving Goldschmidt, Roberts and Kubel a night off each week. Have his versatility be a strength for the team.
Wheeler can make his first adjustments to big league pitching without the pressure of having to be a major cog in the lineup. If there are any butterflies or nerves from playing in the National League that need to be overcome, he can do it without the weight of the team on him.
And if there is ever an injury to a position that Wheeler can play, he could step right in.
The worst that can happen is he is overwhelmed by big league pitching and is sent back down to Reno where he finishes the year under the supervision of manager Brett Butler.
The best case scenario? Wheeler hits so well that he forces the Diamondbacks to find a regular spot for him.
That is a pretty favorable risk and reward ratio. Call him up, Arizona. Wheeler does no good for the team in Reno.
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