Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2011 Giants Top 50 Prospects- #2 Zack Wheeler

#2 Zack Wheeler, RHP. BD: 5/30/1990. 6'3", 180 lbs. B-R, T-R.

Low A: 3-3, 3.99, 58.2 IP, 38 BB, 70 K's, GO/AO= 2.61.

2010 was Zack Wheeler's first professional experience after being drafted # 6 overall in 2009, hopefully the last of a 4 year run of top 10 draft picks for the Giants. Even if he ends up a complete bust, the Giants made the most of their opportunities to draft elite players with those high picks. Wheeler's first pro season was a bit of a mixed bag. The good: A very nice K/9 of 10.71 coupled with a fantastic GO/AO. My threshold for dominance in those two stats are 9 and 2 respectively, so we've got double dominance here! The Bad: A less than stellar BB/9 as well as missing about half the season with a torn fingernail. I'm not too worried about a high BB/9 in a young pitcher if they show dominance in other areas, and the fingernail should not be a lasting problem. Remember Matt Cain got shut down early in his first full pro season after suffering a stress reaction in his elbow.

I think Wheeler still probably has the highest ceiling in the organization. He's just a bit farther away from achieving it than Brandon Belt. I would expect him to start the season pitching for San Jose and can hardly wait to get a look at him in person. The Giants can afford to take their time developing him. If the early returns hold up, and he gets any semblance of command/control, he should eventually take his place in the line of impact players the Giants have drafted with their string of high first round picks.


  1. Come on somebody has to say something about the #2 prospect in the system. Anybody with more intelligence than me?

  2. there's not much to say considering the very limited size of data we have to work with Wheeler. I think DrB captured what Wheeler is pretty perfectly: the prospect with the highest ceiling left in the giants minor system, maybe even an ace, but he'll have to cut down on his walks and prove himself in the following years. Just not enough data on him as of right now.

    He does feature a two seamer with heavy life through the zone, an exceptional cutter, a changeup which is a work in progress, and a curveball which I believe still needs consistency.

    Hopefully by 2013, when Zito's done,Sanchez who may be gone by then or, god forbid Timmy leaves. Wheeler will be ready to take up the job

  3. Don't we have at least 3 more seasons of Barry Zito? The earliest he can be gone is 2014. Even then, the Giants will have to pay him $9 M to leave. Ugh! At least Zito was the best #5 starter in baseball last year. By 2014, that could be one ugly contract, not that it isn't already.

  4. ugh, i just realized you're right. Just wishful thinking on my part I suppose. Well I'll just contniue to be irrationally hopeful that Zito can turn this around and return at least partly to late 2009-early 2010 form. .500 winning percentage anyone?

  5. Zito's remaining contract obligations:

    2011: $18.5 million
    2012: $19.0 million
    2013: $20.0 million
    2014: $20.0 million/$7 million buy-out

    His 2014 option year vests with 600 IP from 2012-2014, or with 400 IP from 2013-2014, or with 200 IP in 2013.

    But let's talk about something positive: Zack Wheeler! He has the arm, and it looks like his FB is more than just velocity. Very happy to see he developed variations off of his FB at such an early age. Given the Giants track record for developing pitchers, I'm very optimistic on Zack -- provided he can stay healthy.

  6. Hardball Times rated Zack as the #1 prospect in the Giants system. In the discussion they reported that his fastball was 94-96 MPH and down in the K zone. Wow! Needs to work on consistency, and command of his secondary stuff.

  7. Since Zito has yet to pitch 200 innings in his Giants tenure, we probably don't have to worry about his option vesting, and if it does, it's probably a good thing.

  8. Considering the Giants have 4 homegrown starters in possibly the best (definitely one of the 3 best) rotations in all of baseball, I think it is fair to say that the Giants are not only great at drafting, but developing pitchers. I know each player is a different case, but I just don't see a scenario (that doesn't include an injury) where Wheeler doesn't end up being a bigtime impact player in the bigs.

    It would be very interesting to know what Giants scouts had rated Wheeler as a pre-draft prospect compared to what they thought of Bumgarner, Lincecum, Sanchez and Cain.

  9. I'm pretty sure Wheeler graded out higher than Bumgarner pre-draft. I specifically recall reading comments that he had more advanced secondary stuff than Bum. Of course, Bum had that unbelievable command which seemed to be much more advanced than Wheeler's.