Edgin Demoted to AA Instead of AAA…What Does That Mean for Zack Wheeler?

By Danny Abriano

Prior to this afternoon’s game against the Phillies, Josh Edgin was demoted to AA to make room for Shaun Marcum.  It’s not surprising that the Mets are opting to steer Edgin away from the ridiculously hitter friendly PCL and AAA Las Vegas.  If the Mets are that concerned about a potential above average bullpen piece being adversely affected in AAA, what does that say about their plans for Zack Wheeler?

Feb 23, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (65) throws in the third inning during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Wheeler, 22, has struggled in the PCL.  However, he has the highest strikeout rate of his career (10.8 per 9 innings).  That tells you that the stuff is there.  In the PCL, pitchers’ lines will  be negatively impacted by an inability to properly grip their secondary offerings, and by would be fly outs that instead sail over outfielders’ heads and often turn into home runs.  Here’s what Sandy Alderson had to say yesterday regarding Wheeler’s performance thus far in AAA:

"His velocity is good and his mechanics are good.  That’s what’s most important. And he threw well for four innings (during his last start). We’re looking for his development as opposed to his line scores. But there’s no question it’s a big adjustment pitching in that league."

As long as Wheeler is able to keep his walks down, there really is no good reason to allow him to toil in the pitchers nightmare that is Las Vegas.  This isn’t to say that he’s merited a promotion the way he’s performed.  Rather, it’s an assertion that keeping him in Las Vegas could become a detriment.  It sounds like Alderson may agree with that line of thinking:

"There might come a point at which you say, ‘this [the major leagues]  is a better environment for him [Wheeler] to develop,’ and we bring him up here."

That breaking point Alderson is referring to may be getting close.  Aside from the PCL negatively impacting Wheeler’s stats, there also has to be the worry that he could develop bad habits and/or have his psyche dented.  Again, if the Mets are worried enough about the conditions in AAA to demote Josh Edgin to AA, it makes little sense to leave Wheeler there for much longer.