Many scouts, fantasy baseball owners and even Zack Wheeler himself, thought he should have begun the year in the New York Mets' starting rotation. That didn't happen, and everyone is now realizing that that was for the best. Before his latest start with Triple-A Las Vegas yesterday, Wheeler had walked 15 in his first 23 1/3 innings.
Wheeler fell off a bit
Poor mechanics, as MiLB.com's Danny Wild notes, were the root of Wheeler's command issues. However, he's also discovered that pitching in the Pacific Coast League -- widely known as an extreme hitter's haven -- isn't kind to even the top pitching prospects. After allowing only one run in 6 2/3 frames with eight strikeouts and one walk Tuesday, Wheeler is sporting a 4.80 ERA and has struck out 36 in 30 innings (six starts).
The fact that Wheeler was able to define and fix his mechanical flaw fairly quickly is a good sign. He's also running into a bit of adversity at a high level for the first time, too. The combination of all of that is only going to make this future ace that much better. However, he still has time to grow and learn in the minors, much like Matt Harvey did last season, so a call-up for Wheeler isn't imminent at all.
The Mets mentioned this spring that they plan to keep Wheeler on a similar progression to what Matt Harvey followed last year, so a major league debut late this summer is about what you can expect. There should be no rush to add Wheeler to your mixed roster unless he's still unclaimed in a keeper league.
Kansas City Royals starting pitching prospect Yordano Ventura dazzled Tuesday night for Double-A Northwest Arkansas when he fanned 10 and walked three in five one-hit innings. Perhaps most impressive was when he reached triple digits with his heater on four separate occasions. It was his first time reaching double-digit K's since last June with High Single-A Wilmington. On the season, he's 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA and is second in the Texas League with 33 strikeouts.
Although the 21-year-old righty is short (5-foot-11), he has natural, electric stuff on the mound, as evidenced by his high-90s fastball. Ventura's fastball-curveball combo can be deadly, but he has often lacked an effective third pitch (changeup) that can make him nearly unhittable. He had all three working in unison Tuesday.
He'll continue working on how to best incorporate all three of his offerings at Northwest Arkansas, but if he continues to do what he did last night, a promotion to Triple-A Omaha and a call-up in September could be in the cards for this youngster. Ventura has such electric stuff, though, that even if he fails to improve his offspeed usage to keep hitters off balance, he could eventually wind up being an effective late-inning bullpen arm. Don't lose sight of this guy.
A quick update on one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, Dylan Bundy: after visiting with Dr. James Andrews Monday, the Baltimore Orioles pitcher received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right forearm. He was told not to throw for six weeks.
Although Tommy John surgery wasn't recommended (yet), this is a big setback for Bundy reaching the big leagues for good this year. After six weeks, if he hasn't improved, elbow reconstruction will almost surely be the route that they take. In any leagues other than keeper leagues, you can put him on the backburner for now.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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