Zack Wheeler #7 – 2013 Top 100
New York Mets
Date of Birth: May 30th, 1990(age 23)
Origin: 1st Round Pick(#6 overall) in 2009 out of East Paulding HS(GA)
Michael Schwartze: The Carlos Beltran/Zack Wheeler trade keeps looking better and better for the Mets; Wheeler has really taken off and developed into one of the best right-handed pitching prospects in baseball. Wheeler split time last year between AA and AAA where he was impressive overall with excellent strikeout rates despite walk numbers were a bit too high. Wheeler has a big, durable frame with some projection left in his body that features some lankiness. He is a good athlete on the mound with a sound, well-balanced delivery. He also has very impressive makeup and is a smart pitcher on the mound.
Wheeler’s fastball is one of the best in the minors, sitting in the mid 90s and capable of touching 97. The pitch really explodes out of his hand with some nice life. Wheeler also throws a hard downer curveball that sits in the upper 70s and a mid 80s slider that the Mets added to his arsenal. Both are impressive pitches with plus potential. Wheeler has also been working on his change up which projects to be an average offering. With the New York Mets AAA Affiliate moving to Las Vegas, Wheeler looks to open the year with the 51’s in the Pacific Coast League. He still needs to iron out his command, but it has made considerable strides over the years and should continue to progress this year. Wheeler has front of the rotation potential, with borderline number one starter potential. He should make his Major League debut at some point this year.
Chris Blessing: It’s been three years since I got my glimpse at Zack Wheeler in an abbreviated start for the Augusta Greenjackets. At the time, Wheeler oozed projection but was very much a raw talent. His fastball was sickening good, exploding in the zone while his curve projected at the time to be a plus pitch. As Mike points out, he has since added a slider to his repertoire that has garnered some good reviews. I like him more than most and truly believe he is one of the top 3 or 4 pitchers in the minors right now. He’s a tremendously gifted hurler who, along with Matt Harvey, will form one of the best young 1-2 punches in baseball as early as this season.
Steve Fiorindo: I was lucky to catch Wheeler in one of his last starts before the trade (it might have been his last). He made quite an impression on me as he flashed the big stuff Michael and Chris mention. He didn’t have an overly impressive outing, but he showed a taste of a four pitch mix that could fit in the front of a rotation with proper development. I felt he could overcome some of the command issues — and he has to an extent — but it will have to take another step forward for him to become a true front-line starter.
Fantasy Outlook by Alex Hume
Sandy Alderson heisted Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants after less than two years of professional experience for two months of relatively ineffective Carlos Beltran; Wheeler has blossomed into a healthy arm with great stuff showing strikeout per inning, front of rotation potential with only his command (4.15 BB/9) keeping him from potential ace-hood.
Wheeler will start the year in the minor leagues, although the destination is unknown. He would be ticketed for Triple-A, but that would mean pitching in Las Vegas of the PCL, which is one of the best hitters destinations in professional baseball. He may start the year in Binghamton (AA) with an eye on working him up to the big league roster in September (similar to what the Blue Jays did in Las Vegas). However, if he does end up in Sin City, realize that, other than strikeouts and walks, numbers from Vegas should be largely ignored as park effects.
His fantasy value in 2013 will be limited since the Mets may not want to start his service clock until September, but look for him to make the jump around the All-Star Break if Shaun Marcum is out long term and Wheeler’s Triple-A season progresses well.
2013 value: Limited 2016 value: Fantasy SP2.