Zack Wheeler (traded for Beltran) wowing scouts in Double-A with Mets
Carlos Beltran returns to Citi Field on Friday night, as a member of the Cardinals. Beltran's Mets legacy could eventually be that he was the guy traded for Zack Wheeler, the just-turned-21 right-hander who is wowing scouts at Double-A.
Carlos Beltran's legacy could be that he was the guy that got them Zack Wheeler. And, with Beltran returning to Citi Field on Friday night with the Cardinals, that may be more than enough.
Scouts following the Mets farm system are raving about Wheeler, a right-hander who just turned 21 on Wednesday and is said to have stuff that reminds them of Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg.
"I haven't seen [Orioles super-prospect Dylan] Bundy yet, but this guy is the best minor-league pitcher I've seen this year," said one rival scout who watched Wheeler pitch for Double-A Binghamton on Thursday night. "He just blew me away. One of the best I've ever seen."
The scout said that Wheeler touched 100 mph on the radar gun, and pitched at 96-97 mph.
"And with no effort," he said. "And late life on the fastball. And with a knee-buckling curve, and a good changeup. He was overpowering. [Reading] is a pretty good team, but it was like a man vs. boys."
In nine Double-A starts, Wheeler has held opponents to a .169 batting average, with 21 walks and 60 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. He's 5-2, with a 1.88 ERA, after allowing one run on three hits in seven innings against Reading, the team leading the Eastern League in batting.
The Giants agonized about trading Wheeler, who was their first-round draft pick (and the sixth pick overall) in 2009. But with their offense struggling after Buster Posey's injury, they eventually decided to do the one-for-one deal with the Mets for Beltran.
Mets beat writer Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger offers an interesting history of the Beltran trade.
The Mets could be building a fine rotation of the future, as scouts also like Matt Harvey, currently at Triple-A Buffalo. But Wheeler seems to be the prize.
"I saw Harvey this year, and it's not even close," the scout said. "And I like Harvey."
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