Zack Wheeler Scouting Report (2010)
With a heat index of 99 degrees and in the midst of a 9-0 ballgame, my only thoughts were of heading home and cooling off. However, I wasn’t sure if it was Zack Wheeler‘s night to pitch, but suspected it might be due to his throwing every third game. As I became more antsy, I decided to find a picture of Wheeler on my Blackberry and see if he was awaiting his turn to throw in the bullpen down the third base line. Disappointed to see him in the dugout, I hung out hoping to record an at bat of Mets prospect Robbie Shields before leaving. While waiting, Wheeler surfaced from the dugout and I figured why not just ask him? His answer forced me to stick around a few extra innings, but it was certainly worth it.
Physical Projection: The ideal pitcher’s frame, Wheeler looked longer than his listed height of 6’3″. His limbs are long and lean, with a body which can hold an additional thirty pounds at a minimum. However, he may struggle adding the weight as he lacks the shoulders, quads, and calves to project as a player who is going to have an easy time filling out his frame.
As an athlete, Wheeler combines fluid movements with explosive leg drive. With such easy velocity, he could gain a few MPH on his fastball which could leave him pushing triple digits at his peak. His motion was clean and repeatable, and no red flags were easily noticeable.
Mound Presence: From the moment he hit the bullpen to his last pitch in game action, Wheeler was all business. He worked his entire arsenal in the pen, but only had the opportunity to throw his fastball and a handful of curveballs at most in game action. While warming up, he hit 95 MPH on a very accurate stadium radar gun which left me in awe. He then proceeded to attack Sand Gnats hitters, overpowering them with relative ease.
Fastball: At 94-96 MPH, Wheeler’s fastball exploded on top of Sand Gnats hitters. His long stride created excellent downward plane with a touch of arm side fade. In this outing, he appeared to be rearing back trying to light up the radar gun instead of working to command the pitch. With only an inning to showcase his stuff, it’s easy to understand why. The fastball may already be a plus offering and has plus-plus potential with improved command.
Curveball: Thrown in the low-80’s, Wheeler’s curveball is a harder offering than I normally see at the level. With tight, sharp break, the pitch exhibits wipeout potential in the bullpen. although he hung it a couple of times in game action, Wheeler creates plenty of depth with enough glove side run to make it more of a 11-5 offering.
Changeup: A third offering with plenty of potential, Wheeler’s changeup features some arm side run and a good amount of velocity separation from the fastball. However, in reviewing his side angle video, I was able to pick up on a slight slowing of his arm action which will have to be corrected.
While it’s not easy producing a report off of a single inning of relief work, I felt it important to let readers know Wheeler is still a fantastic prospect even after missing a couple of months due to injury. Wheeler had a definite “wow” factor which the overwhelming majority of prospects simply do not have. Behind Julio Teheran, he’s the second best pitcher I have ever seen at the level and has true impact starter upside. I look forward to seeing him again in a couple of weeks in what I hope will be for multiple innings.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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