The weeks of intense trade speculation finally materialized today, as the New York Mets sent star outfielder Carlos Beltran and $4 million to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for stud pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. After two truncated seasons due to a severe knee injury, Beltran came back with a bang in 2011, posting a .289/.391/.513 line with 15 homeruns, 66 RBI, 61 runs, and 3 stolen bases.
With hitters like Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Jason Bay out for extended periods of time, Beltran ironically became the symbol of stability for the fringe Mets lineup. While his bat and veteran presence will sorely be missed, Mets fans will soon be delighted by the talents of Wheeler.
Zack Wheeler was the Giants first round pick (sixth overall) in the 2009 draft. He was immediately ranked as a top prospect by Baseball America (#49 pre-2010), and posted a 3.99 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 1.84 K/BB (including a 10.7 K/9) in 58.6 innings for the Giants Single-A team. So far in 2011, the 21 year old righty has hurled a 399 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 2.09 K/BB in 88 innings. His control might raise some red flags, but it dropped an entire point from last season (from 5.8 BB/9 to 4.8 BB/9), and his strikeout ability has impressed scouts.
Wheeler has three pitches fastball, curveball, and change-up, all of which he throws well. His fastball averages between 91 and 94 miles per hour, with the occasional 95 heater. The righty is then able to keep hitters off-balance with a two-plane breaking curveball, which sits in the range of 72 to 78 miles per hour. His more seldom-used pitch is his 82 to 84 mile per hour change-up, which Wheeler will on occasion use to mix-in between the fastball and curve.
According to Kevin Goldstein’s mid-season prospect rankings, Wheeler placed number 36 overall. Goldstein said, “The stuff is great, the command is not; for now his ability to miss bats overrides other concerns. If he starts throwing more strikes, his ceiling explodes.” Needless to say, Sandy Alderson did a fantastic job nabbing Wheeler from the Giants. With Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia (post-return from Tommy John surgery), and now Zack Wheeler in the farm system, Mets fan can look forward to a very exiting future rotation.
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