With all the pressure on his shoulders, Rangers Double-A prospect Joe Wieland went out and threw a no-hitter Friday night against the San Antonio Missions. He allowed one walk and faced the minimum 27 batters as the sole baserunner was eliminated trying to steal second base.
Wieland's timing could not have been better as Major League scouts have been in attendance the last few weeks evaluating pieces for a potential deadline deal. The latest rumors have been with San Diego in the Heath Bell discussions as teammates Wieland, Robbie Erlin and Tanner Scheppers have been the hottest names in the possible swap.
Wieland has to hear the rumors. How can he not in a world obsessed with Twitter and reporters trying to be the first to break a story.
In an interview with ESPN's Richard Durrett, Wieland said about the rumors, "Whatever happens, happens. I try not to think about it too much, but it's out there."
Wieland needed only 109 pitches to retire the 27 Missions' batters with seven coming via the strikeout. What makes this no-no even more impressive is that it came against the team with the most runs scored in the Texas League this year.
Wieland is having one of the best pitching seasons in the entire Rangers organization. Since making the jump to Double-A in June, Wieland has an ERA of 1.23. While in Myrtle Beach, Wieland had a similarly small ERA at 2.10 while also striking out 96 batters in 85 innings. He also owned a mind-boggling 24 strikeout-to-walk ratio before getting the call-up.
In the same Durrett article, Wieland credits the Rangers system for his progress as a pitcher. "I love the Rangers. I feel like I wouldn’t be where I’m at if I wasn’t in this system. As a pitcher, I feel like this is the best system to be in for developmental reasons. We have the best coaching staff, on top of that, there’s Nolan Ryan running the show."
Wieland has vaulted himself into the discussion of top Rangers pitching prospects which is already loaded with names like Martin Perez, Erlin, Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Barrett Loux. With the abundance of prospects, it's likely that one or two of these names will be moved for Padres closer Heath Bell.
There is no secret that the Rangers bullpen has been awful this season. It's also one of the few holes on a team loaded with offense and a solid pitching staff. Bell has been the subject of trade rumors ever since last season but with the Padres doubtful to re-sign the hefty hurler after the season, a deal seems more imminent than ever before.
The Rangers have been pushing hard for Bell and are rumored to be the favorites for his services. If the Rangers do land the big guy, Wieland's outstanding pitching this season could be the reason why.