If you check out the baseball news or type the words ‘Zack Wheeler’ into a search engine then you’ll be swamped by stories documenting his recently penned deal with the Philadelphia Phillies worth a reported $118m across a five year span. The trouble is, those stories only give you a snippet of Wheeler.
Here we’re going to go deeper into the man and his journey to the mega bucks.
Sport in the genes
It might surprise you to learn that we could have been talking about Wheeler the basketball player given he split his time between the two sports during his youth and perhaps it’s due to the influence his older brothers, particularly Adam, had on him as to why Wheeler opted for the diamond field.
Adam is one of two brothers who is 10 years senior to Wheeler and, when Wheeler was just 11, Adam was drafted to the New York Yankees in the 2001 draft, but injury plagued any chance of him establishing himself.
In addition to his brother’s flirtation with the major leagues, both Wheeler’s parents played sport as hobbies and therefore it was a natural path for him to walk. It just so happened he was pretty damn good at it and he excelled in High School where he was named Regional Pitcher of the Year and scooped Georgia’s Player of the Year too.
Chipola College was all set to be Wheeler’s next move but then the 2009 draft came along and presented an opportunity to change his future.
Biding time in the Minor Leagues
It didn’t take long for someone to snap Wheeler up. He was the sixth overall pick in the MLB draft and agreed to join the San Francisco Giants, however, he spent the first couple of years with affiliated sides – Augusta Greenjackets and San Jose Giants.
Despite turning in solid performances and featuring in the All-Star Futures game, Wheeler was on the move in July 2011 where joined the New York Mets and was instantly sent to their feeder side the St Lucie Mets. Wheeler was quickly establishing himself as a potential star for the next generation and after a spell with another duo of Mets affiliates, first Binghamton and later the Buffalo Bisons.
With the 2013 season ahead, Wheeler was the Mets golden ticket and rated as one of the best prospects in the whole of the United States.
The big time
A major league debut finally came for Wheeler in June 2013 and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he played an instrumental role in a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves. Throughout the campaign he produced a host of performances that saw him more than hold his own against the leagues best pitchers and he’s managed to maintain that level throughout his six year spell with the Mets, which is why so many teams were interested in his signature.
What are the Phillies getting
With the exception of a couple of seasons hampered by injury, Wheeler has been a model of consistency with a career average ERA of 3.77 and whilst his statistics cannot offer up a list of MLB records they do somewhat provide any team signing Wheeler – in this case the Phillies – a comfort of what they’ll get.
Wheeler may well be one of the fastest pitchers in the MLB but he has the ability to throw a wide range of deliveries, which makes him a hard man to score against and his career haul of well over 700 strikeouts is testament to just how tough he is to face.
It’s true, the deal on the table is a sizeable one but a move for Wheeler looks like a risk-free decision for the Phillies and we’re sure he’ll help them to success.