Zack Wheeler was drafted by the San Francisco Giants 6th overall in the 2009 amateur draft. He spent the 2010 season at the Giants Low A affiliate, where he preformed well enough to pitch in that years Futures Game during the MLB All-Star break. During the 2011 season while making a push for the post season, the Giants sent Wheeler (who was pitching in High A at the time) to the Mets for what turned out to be a “rental” of CarlosBeltran.
Since becoming the Mets top prospect, Zack has racked up 179 strikeouts and just 64 walks across three levels in a little over one full season. Being 6’4” he has the length to generate arm speed on his five-pitch repertoire, which starts with his powerful four-seam fastball that has a range of 95-97 mph; as well as a two-seam fastball that he likes to use inside on righties. His other plus pitch is his 72-79 mph curveball. He is continuing to develop his slider, which ranges at 88-91 mph. His 83-89 mph change-up is a bit flat, and with little movement; it is his weakest pitch.
Wheeler has been reassigned to minor league camp, and will start 2013 in Triple A. There has been speculation that he could get an April call up, with news of Johan Santana having possibly career ending surgery. As the rumor mills churn, the Mets front office is quick to state their desire to let Zack further develop in Buffalo. He could use that time to sharpen his slider into more of a long breaking pitch. That being said one has to think if any other injuries occur to that rotation, their hand may be forced into bringing him up.
There are many Zack Wheeler comparisons to current MLB pitchers out there from a lower end of Phillip Humber, up to a Trevor Cahill type. On a higher end of possible comparisons, he could be a Matt Cain. He should get slightly bigger, but probably not to Cain’s 230 lbs. If Wheeler can fine-tune his mechanics, he will progress quicker than Cain did. If the Mets get their wish, Wheeler may come up in September for a cup of coffee in another “rebuilding” year. Unless there’s some miracle that let’s them push for a playoff spot (highly unlikely), he could be brought in for a bullpen roll. Either way a best guess is that he’ll be up late May or early June.
Since the trade went down in 2011 Mets fans have been drooling over the potential of Wheeler, with good reason. In a split season between Double and Triple A he finished with 12 wins 8 losses a 3.26 ERA, 148 SO and 59 BB 1.168 WHIP. Now it’s time for fantasy owners to start chomping at the bit as well. He’s a no-brainer in dynasty formats, and in any deeper keeper league. He should also be on the watch lists of anyone in deeper one-year leagues, whenever he does get his shot he should be able to deliver.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Robert now resides in Philadelphia, PA. Has been playing fantasy football since 2003, and is a former high school football coach. Always a student of the game, he uses knowledge of coaching for fantasy wins. He’s always available for advice on twitter at @RoJoPal.