After gaining polish over 13 Triple-A starts, Zack Wheeler is ready to prove that he belongs in the Mets rotation.
The Situation: With the Mets struggling at the big-league level and the “Super 2” timeline squarely in the rearview mirror, it was time for the club to call upon their other high-end pitching prospect to pair him with right-hander Matt Harvey. Zack Wheeler will make his major-league debut just down the road from where he grew up near Atlanta on Tuesday night against the Braves.
Background: Wheeler, the sixth-overall pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2009, joined the Mets in exchange for outfielder Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline in 2011. After two successful but inconsistent seasons in Low-A and High-A with the Giants, Wheeler got his first taste of the upper levels in 2012 with the Mets. In 19 Double-A starts Wheeler notched a 3.26 ERA with just 92 hits allowed in 116 innings. He walked a career-low 3.3 batters per nine innings and fanned better than a batter per inning, making progress in his development. The Mets promoted him to Triple-A Buffalo at the end of 2012 season, and he logged a 3.27 ERA in six starts. Returning to Triple-A to start the 2012 season, though this time in the high-octane Pacific Coast League, Wheeler has posted a 3.93 ERA with 61 hits and 27 walks yielded in 68-2/3 innings and an impressive 73 punchouts.
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Gerrit Cole starts on Tuesday. Zack Wheeler is coming up next week. What about Wil Myers? He leads off the eighth edition of the list.
The Rays and Wil Myers have become baseball's 2013 version of Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley. Will they or won't they? When will it happen? Why hasn't it happened yet? There are plenty of questions that we can't answer about the impending (or maybe less impeding than we thought) call-up of the next great Rays' prospect. However, what we can say with some reasonable certainty is what's been happening at the major-league level, purely from a baseball perspective, that is keeping Wil Myers in Triple-A. The Rays are six games over .500 at the moment, and four games out of first place in the AL East, so it isn't simply about the money, it's also about performance.
Heading into the season, it was widely assumed that Myers would hang down in Durham until the Rays deemed it financially appropriate for their long-term future to bring him up. And to make room for him, Kelly Johnson would head to a utility role with Ben Zobrist taking over full-time again at second base. But with an 802 OPS and 10 homers in 53 games, Johnson has made his statement to stay in the lineup—which moves the conversation over to the first-base position. Unfortunately for Myers, that's where James Loney is hitting .325 with seven homers this season. Instead of wondering what kind of sorcery is leading to his resurgence in Tampa, we'll just move on. This brings us to the final player who is getting in the way of the Wilpocalypse.
How many game could a team of all rookies win? Think about it for a minute, pick a number, and then read on.
One of the chapters I wrote for Extra Inningswas about the ways that perennial losers like the Pirates and Royals get broken, and how they might eventually go about getting fixed. “Getting younger” is sometimes seen as a solution, and often it’s at least a step along the way. But early on in the chapter, I noted that youth isn’t always an immediate answer, writing, “All else being equal, a younger team is preferable to an older one, since younger players generally cost less and offer more room for improvement, but a roster composed of players who haven’t yet hit their primes is at least as unlikely to succeed as a team of players who’ve left their primes behind.” Comparing the average ages of teams that finished above or below .500, or that won or lost over 100 games, I concluded, “Too little inexperience can be even more toxic to a team than too much experience.”
It’s easy to explain why many young teams lose a lot of games: they’re learning on the job, with few players in their prime and a limited supply of highly touted and/or major-league-ready rookies. But for a few minutes, let’s ignore the way the real world works and imagine a young team too talented to occur in nature. If we could form an entire team for 2013 out of rookie-eligible players from any organization, which rookies would we pick? And armed with only the best young players in baseball, how many games would our all-rookie roster win?
Baseball has finally arrived! And so has the much-anticipated Top 101 prospects list put together by Professor Parks and BP's minor league crew. With the opening of Spring Training, we get a mix of prospects from this list, less talented minor leaguers who still could have a big league future, and established veterans and superstars showing up in the same box score on a daily basis. I'll be keeping you updated on the performances of the more notable minor leaguers. By mid-March, many of the best prospects will be back in minor league camp getting much-needed at-bats. Some, however, have a legitimate shot at breaking camp with the big league club, a few will open some eyes before starting the season in the minors, and some could disappoint. Here's what's happened so far through the first four days worth of games ...
Mitchell is not the best prospect on the Yankees Triple-A staff, but don't be surprised if he's the first to the majors. Scouts think he could be effective as either a back-end starter or middle reliever, as while he's on the small side, he's ultra-athletic and features a fastball that has slightly above-average velocity and plenty of movement. He's not going to be a star, but he should have big league value, even on a championship-level roster.