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Scouting Giants Draft Pick Zack Wheeler

June 11, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG 5 Comments

Looking at some of the top right handed prep arms in this year’s draft, starting with Giants draft pick Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler | RHP | East Paulding High School | Drafted by – San Francisco Giants

Label – The Signability Pick with Upside

Signability – Committed to Kennesaw State, but viewed as signable…he’s expressed a desire to get his professional career started

Body Type – Very athletic and very projectable build with plenty of room to fill out his frame. I’d classify him as pretty lean at the moment.

Stuff

Fastball – Sits mostly in the 91 – 94 range, but can get as high as 95 or 96 in short spurts…tremendous life…gets on hitters quickly as it explodes out of his hand…will run into lefties and away from right handed batters…terrific carry through the strike zone, indicating plenty of arm strength…Wheeler has said he features two fastballs — a two-seamer and four-seamer

Slider – Hard slider is more like a slurve…comes out of his hand looking like his fastball and travels on a similar plane as well, which you can see in the below clip…the pitch breaks a little early, so it could use some tightening, but the break has some snap to it and will generate plenty of swings-and-misses.

zack-wheeler-fastballzack-wheeler-slider
*Credit to the MLB Scouting Bureau

Change-Up – Below average at the moment…doesn’t get enough differentiation from his fastball velocity to really get hitters off balance. When you contrast that with Jacob Turner’s change-up, even though he doesn’t throw the pitch very often, I’ve never seen it described as anything worse than “developing”. That’s one of the differences between Turner and Wheeler.

Mechanics

Wheeler’s mechanics are a bit herky-jerky. Pitchers with herky-jerky mechanics will often times make hitters less comfortable in the box, make it more difficult for hitters to pick up the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, and make it tougher for hitter’s to time a pitcher’s release.

zack-wheeler
*Credit to Takkle Sports

Wheeler takes a long stride and generates excellent separation between his torso and hips as you can see in the clip above. I pause it at the point in which he achieves the most separation — the chest is facing third base, while the lower body is pointed toward home. His upper body is then uncoiled forward. Wheeler’s arm action is long and he sorta looks looks like a bird spreading its wings. Again, along with his herky-jerkiness, this is an attribute that hitters can have problems with. It makes Wheeler much more deceptive than he would be otherwise.

Despite a lot going on in his delivery, Wheeler’s athleticism helps him repeat it consistently.

Other Notes

Like the other prep pitchers, Wheeler’s still has work to do in shoring up his command, especially on his breaking stuff. He’s highly regarded for his work ethic and mound presence.

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.

Best Case Outcome – No. 1 starter

More Likely Outcome – Borderline No. 2 starter

Up Next - Jacob Turner

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  • 5 Comments »

    • Matt said:

      Good write-up. I’ve read most of your articles so far, and I appreciate the site! Anyways, I wish Wheeler fell to the Braves’ pick. I’m not so happy with Mike Minor, but I guess he’s an ‘alright’ pick.

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      Thanks Matt for the kind words.

      Yeah, I feel ya on the Minor pick…he’s a safe pick…lacks upside with an upside probably of a No. 3 starter, but more likely a back end kinda guy.

    • Joe Perry said:

      Hey I have a question… since the draft, do you know what Zack Wheeler has been doing? (who he is playing with) When can we expect to see him in a SFG minor affiliate and what affiliate would that be? If you could email me an answer if you know it that would be amazing :]

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      Hi Joe,

      Not sure what Wheeler has been doing…I don’t think he’s doing much playing. I’m sure he’s just trying to stay in shape so he’s ready to go once signed. As to where he’ll be placed once signed, it depends on the organization’s philosophy. I would expect him to get a couple tune up starts in either the AZL or the Northwest League. If he signs too late to really play ball, I expect him to start next year in the Sally League.

    • Giants Sign Top Pick Zack Wheeler « Triples Alley said:

      [...] Alex Eisenberg’s scouting report on Wheeler.  And here’s what I had to say about Wheeler after we drafted [...]