Barring a setback from the soreness in his right AC joint, Mets top prospect Zack Wheeler is expected to join the team after making two or three more Triple-A starts, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
"If not for the minor setback with the shoulder, he might already be here," said a team official to Puma. "We are at the point where you can say it's probably two or three more starts [for Triple-A Las Vegas]."
Wheeler, 22, was ranked as the 11th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America before the season. Reports during spring training touted him as better than fellow right-hander Matt Harvey, but that's hard to believe at this point. Harvey is in line to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field this July thanks to his 5-0 record and 1.93 ERA.
In nine Triple-A starts, Wheeler owns a 3.91 ERA and 1.35 WHIP with 49 strikeouts and 20 walks in 48 1/3. Las Vegas is a brutal place to pitch, however, and it shows in his splits: 5.73 ERA and 1.41 WHIP at Las Vegas compared to a 2.36 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the road. Baseball America described Wheeler as having a "classic No. 2 starter profile" in their 2013 Prospect Handbook.
Wheeler last started on Wednesday after missing a turn with that AC joint soreness. That puts him in line to join the Mets somewhere around June 10 or so. Right-handers Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.04) and Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00) are most in danger of losing their rotation spot to Wheeler.
The Mets originally acquired Wheeler from the Giants for Carlos Beltran at the 2011 trade deadline. San Francisco selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft.