Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Giants Selection in the 2009 Draft is Zack Wheeler

The Giants Select with the 6th Pick of the 2009 Draft:

Zack Wheeler

MLB.com: Strike thrower. Wants to sign, wants to play. 6' 4", 175 lbs, RHP. College commit to Kennesaw State.

9 comments:

  1. Zack Wheeler interview on MLB.com:

    "Very exciting, looking forward to playing. Ready to go.

    Giants: fun, great city, beautiful, don't know much other than McCovey Cove and Bonds."

    Well, he IS only 18 years old, I would not have expected much more out of him than this, given the questions.

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  2. Sporting News notes:

    The Braves are now heartbroken. This kid's one of the most projectable pitcher in the draft. Big curveball with 95 gas. I question whether he will stay healthy, but his mechanics smoothed out this year, according to scouts.

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  3. Mayo has called them up to Braves with Minor, based on his last minute Twittering. Missed on Reds and Tigers, but got Storen at 10th, so he is 8 for 10 on Top 10 picks.

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  4. MLB article: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090609&content_id=5228744&vkey=news_sf&fext=.jsp&c_id=sf&partnerId=rss_sf

    Interesting bit of info: Experts believe that Wheeler can gain velocity as he adds strength to his 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame.

    Dang, that's pretty good, he's already in the low 90's consistently, if he can gain, he'll be in the mid-90's regularly!

    Stats in H.S.: Wheeler finished his senior season with a 9-0 record and a 0.54 ERA, including a no-hitter against Mill Creek in the first round of the Georgia state high school playoffs. He added a seven-inning, complete-game, 2-1 win in the quarterfinals in which he allowed two hits and struck out 15. Last year as a junior, Wheeler recorded an 8-3 mark with a 1.31 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

    Unlike two years ago for MadBum and Timmy2, they do not note his walks, so I assume that means Wheeler has not been the best of command pitchers.

    Here is a nice article from Atlanta on him: http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/highschool/stories/2009/06/08/wheeler_baseball_draft.html?imw=Y

    Here are five things to know about Wheeler:

    • Family tradition: Older brother Adam Wheeler was selected by the New York Yankees in the 13th round of the 2001 draft and pitched four years in the minors. “My brother taught me everything he knew about mechanics,” Zack said. “I’ve always had a strong arm. But when everything starts to flow together with the proper technique, you start picking up [velocity].”

    • Deceptive motion: Wheeler keeps hitters off-balance with his curve, but his money pitch is his fastball. “He has the most potential out of any pitcher in the state that I’ve seen,” South Forsyth infielder Zach Alvord said. “He never looks like he’s trying to put everything into his pitches, then they go by you at 91-92 mph.”

    • Record breaker: Zack set the East Paulding record for strikeouts in a season, with 149 in 76 innings pitched this year. He posted a 9-0 record with a 0.54 earned run average as a senior, including the first no-hitter of his career against Mill Creek in the second round of the playoffs.

    • All-around athlete: When Wheeler began blasting homers in practice, East Paulding coach Tony Boyd decided to use him occasionally as a designated hitter. Wheeler finished with a .280 average with one homer. It was a testament to his athleticism. “Not too bad for someone who hadn’t hit live pitching for over three years,” Boyd said.

    • Dream teams: Wheeler, who signed with Kennesaw State, said he has generated the most interest from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta — the teams that pick Nos. 4-7 overall in the first round. Within the past week, Wheeler flew to Baltimore for a private workout session and had a greet-and-meet with Braves officials. “I could go earlier or later, you never really know,” Wheeler said. “I really don’t have a favorite team … but yes, it would be nice to go to the Braves, since they have everything around here.”

    Oh well, now he'll just have to get used to Orange and Black. He can get together with Posey if he gets homesick.

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  5. Got some additional info from today's SJ Mercury newspaper:

    * Wheeler was 9-0 with a 0.54 ERA in 13 starts this spring. In 77.2 IP, he struck out 151 (!!!) and only walked 20 batters, a great command ratio of 7.5 (this is about what Bumgarner and Alderson did in high school a couple of years ago).

    * While there were a number of other top rated pitchers available when the Giants drafted, Wheeler was Barr and Sabean's top-rated player remaining. Sabean: "We got a really good player at a place in the draft where you need to get a good player." Barr: "Every time we went back, we liked him a little bit more."

    * They compared him to Cain, Bumgarner, and Alderson, and Wheeler reminded them of these prospects when they were selected. Sabean: "With his size, strength and ability, he should be on the fast track."

    * Signability isn't expected to be an issue.

    * Also, there is an interview with Wheeler on sfgiants.com, some of which is captured in the Mercury article, some of which not, and in it, he noted that he's actually 6' 4.5" now, so he is still growing.

    * He also noted there that he wants to sign ASAP, so that he can start his pro career, but will let the negotiation process play out before he signs. Sounds like if he gets slot for last year, the Giants could sign him immediately ($2.4M) and maybe they can get him for slot ($2.16M) this year too, possibly, as it sounds like he is not too hung up on getting more, just on getting what's "fair", which would be slot. Hopefully the Giants would just do that (give him the $2.4M now) and get it done so that he can start, much like Alderson did a couple of years ago. Best negotiation tactic there is to ask them, "At what price can we get Wheeler to sign on the dotted line right now?" Like that e-Bay thingy.

    * He has been using a personal trainer the past two years to add muscle, doing baseball-related training, with a guy who works with Markakis and Heyward currently. He's added 10 lbs doing this.

    * He recalls game Sabean was at, pumped it up and threw 98 MPH at one point.

    * Repertoire is: Fastball 94-96, two-seam 90-92, changeup 83, curve 79, but he has a sleepy curve and a hard curve, that he uses depending on the situation, and he mixes them up. That's pretty advance pitching and thinking for a high schooler, no wonder the Giants selected him.

    * He just turned 19 and he wants to make the majors in 2 years or quicker. Ah, babies, they are so young and eager! That is basically what Sabean said about Bumgarner and Alderson when they were drafted, and since Wheeler compares to them, then I have to assume the Giants think he can do that too. In fact, the above note on him being on the "fast track" is what Sabean and Tidrow said about Bumgarner and Alderson two years ago, if I remember the interview right.

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  6. Nats just signed #10 pick Soren, so there is hope that Wheeler might be just as quick, though I worry a little bit about his agents comments with the Chronicle:

    Then came the Giants, who knew Wheeler was committed to Kennesaw State but also knew he preferred to turn pro. Last year's No. 6 overall pick also was a high schooler, catcher Kyle Skipworth, who signed with the Marlins shortly after the draft for $2.3 million.

    Agent B.B. Abbott, who's representing Wheeler, hinted he could be seeking more but added, "This is his dream, and he'll be able to live it in a great town with a team with great history. I think he was the best player (available), and I think the Giants know that. We'll get this kid signed, and that's the bottom line."

    At worse, he'll be wanting the $2.4M slot from last season, and the Giants bumped up both Lincecum and Bumgarner's bonuses above slot by $200K to get them signed. Since this year's slot is $2.16M, then I would think the Giants can probably sign Wheeler with a bonus of $2.36M or so.

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  7. Baseball Analysts wrote this on Wheeler: http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/06/interview_with.php

    "Scouting reports have described him as having a "projectable body", and cite his poise and make-up under pressure in addition to his obvious arm strength. From talking to him, Wheeler has a low-key and easy going manner about him, which likely helps keep his cool on the mound."

    "BA: What’s your greatest strength as a pitcher? Something you’re really proud about?

    Wheeler: I think my mound mentality. If something goes wrong behind me I just keep on pitching, you know, try to get more outs – don’t try let anything get to me really. I think that’s a good strong key to have.

    BA: That’s definitely important. Can you describe the pitches in your arsenal and maybe your approach to facing hitters in terms of pitch selection?

    Wheeler: I’ve got my 4-seam fastball, my 2-seam fastball. Then I’ve got my slurve, and I’ve got a change-up. When I get two strikes on somebody, I want to make them chase an 0-2 curve ball. I usually try to throw a swoopy curveball that just dives out of the zone. If I have a 3-2 count and I want to throw a curveball to strike them out, I’ll throw more of a harder curveball that has a bit more bite downward.

    BA: You feel confident throwing that curve ball with a 3-2 count?

    Wheeler: Yes sir.

    BA: Have you given much consideration to pitching in college or are you pretty much set on going straight to the pros?

    Wheeler: I mean, if it doesn’t work out when the draft comes around, I’d definitely consider pitching in college. But, you know, I want to go play, so I hope it works out.

    BA: Your older brother Adam also played professional ball from what I understand. What lessons have you learned from watching him?

    Wheeler: You know, just keep your poise on the mound. Don’t let anything bother you and just have command. Be strong every time out.

    BA: What kind of personality do you have in the clubhouse? Are you a vocal leader? A lead by example guy? A prankster? What’s your personality?

    Wheeler: I lead more by example. I’m not quite a vocal leader. But, you know I like to play jokes on some people too sometimes, just to keep things live in the locker room."

    Hmmm, seems to duplicate a lot of the questions in the audio interview with the Giants reporters...

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  8. And I should note that this interview was before the draft.

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  9. Baseball Intellect analyzed Wheeler's mechanics and overall prospectness, saying that he could be an ace, but should be at least a borderline #2 pitcher, which is still pretty good: http://www.baseball-intellect.com/scouting-zack-wheeler/

    He had a note that I haven't seen anywhere else:

    "It’s also worth noting Wheeler played for the No. 1 prep team in the nation and as a result, he wound up facing a better level of competition than other high school pitchers."

    As usual, a pretty good breakdown of his pitching repertoire, plus comments on how good they are (or aren't). I would be very happy with another #1/2 starter with good command and control to add to our collection.

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