Zack Wheeler to Get Promoted to Triple-A

By Matt Musico

The move was hinted at a few weeks ago, but after Sandy Alderson squashed the rumors that Zack Wheeler could possibly be promoted to the Major Leagues this season, he said that their top prospect would be moving up to Triple-A soon. That is turning into a reality, as Wheeler will become a member of the Buffalo Bisons after his next start with the Binghamton Mets at home this Saturday.

New York’s top pitching prospect has hit a rough patch in his last six starts, posting a 5.97 ERA in 37.2 innings, but his overall body of work during the season at Double-A is more than worth a promotion. In 18 starts this season, he’s 9-6 with a 3.29 ERA. He’s thrown 109.1 innings thus far in 2012, and has surrendered only 88 hits and 39 walks, including one home run. Also, he’s struck out 106 hitters during that time.

After having a great first half (8-4, 2.62 ERA), he’s struggled since coming back from the Double-A All-Star game, going 1-2 with a 7.02 ERA. There are plenty of reasons behind his struggles, but it’s possible it has something to do with the prior talk of possibly getting promoted to the Big Leagues to help (at the time) a free falling Mets team. That can put a lot of pressure for a 22-year-old pitcher who didn’t play in college and hasn’t pitched higher than Double-A.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York said a scout told him that Wheeler has MLB-ready stuff and would perform well if promoted to the Mets, but the front office is doing the right thing with taking his development slow, and letting him go through each level in the minor leagues. At this rate, we will likely see Wheeler at some point in 2013.

As Wheeler heads to Triple-A, the young right-hander is nearing his career high in innings pitching in a season (115 in ’11), and his WHIP is the lowest it’s been during his professional baseball career, currently holding a 1.16 WHIP in 2012.

Can you just imagine how stacked Wally Backman‘s club is now? After getting Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis due to roster moves made at the Major League level, he now gets the organization’s top prospect to insert into his starting rotation, while also putting Jenrry Mejia back in the rotation after the experiment as a reliever failed.

It will be interesting to see how Wheeler adjusts to life in Triple-A; his transition from St. Lucie to Binghamton was easy, but he had an entire winter to prepare for it, as he will only have one turn in the rotation to get himself settled and ready for his first start with the Bisons. Either way, we’re one step closer to seeing Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey both in New York rotation!