Since his selection by the Padres in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of an Ohio high school, Matt Wisler has mastered three full-season levels in the past two years and is banging on the door of the major leagues heading into 2014.
The right-hander's full-season debut in 2012 was basically his pro debut as well. Nonetheless, he caught everyone’s attention by posting a 2.53 ERA and 113-28 strikeout-to-walk rate in 114 innings for Low-A Fort Wayne.
Moved up to High-A Lake Elsinore for the 2013 season, the 21-year-old (in his age-20 season) made six impressive starts in the California League before receiving a quick promotion to Double-A San Antonio.
Wisler continued to dominate at the more advanced level, registering a 3.00 ERA and .223 opponents’ batting average with a 103-27 strikeout-to-walk rate in 105 innings (20 starts). He was especially lethal against same-side hitters, whom he held to a .188 batting average and struck out 73 times in 58.1 innings.
Wisler is an excellent athlete, and he is still growing into a projectable 6’3”, 195-pound frame. His delivery involves moderate effort, as he will jerk with his upper body and head at times. Though it doesn’t impede his ability to throw strikes, it’s something that will need to be cleaned up a bit.
The 21-year-old’s fastball is a presently plus in the low to mid-90s, and he’s capable of running it up to 95-96 mph with late life. And for what Wisler lacks in downhill plane toward the plate, he compensates with a feel for working both sides of the plate with the pitch and generally pounding the strike zone.
Wisler’s slider is a future plus offering, thrown with excellent depth and pace at 82 to 87 mph. It’s a two-plane breaker with huge swing-and-miss potential against right-handed hitters, and he already shows a feel for using it both inside and outside of the strike zone.
The right-hander’s changeup is a fringe offering that projects to be at least average at maturity. He turns it over well to generate two-seam-like fade and sink in the mid-80s—which is a bit on the firm side—but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Rounding out Wisler’s deep arsenal is a curveball in the mid-70s that’s used sparingly as a show-me pitch.
After dealing over 20 starts and 105 innings last season at Double-A, Wisler has little left to prove at the level. However, an additional quarter- to half-season at the level wouldn’t be at a bad thing, and it certainly wouldn’t prevent him from reaching the major leagues after the All-Star break.
Video courtesy of Jason Cole.