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Beltran Booty: Zack Wheeler

Posted By Howard Megdal On July 27, 2011 @ 3:29 pm In Player moves,Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

Well, if media reports are true, Sandy Alderson is back from his pillaging, and the treasure chest contains… Zack Wheeler.

As Beltran Booty goes, this will do nicely. (Tomorrow, we’ll tackle what it means for the 2011 Mets.)

Wheeler was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft. He’s currently the 35th best prospect in all of baseball, as per Baseball America. His fastball reaches 96-97, he’s got great movement on it (sinking action), so he both misses bats (10.0 strikeouts per nine innings this season) and induces huge numbers of ground balls. His only hiccup is control- his walk rate was 5.8 per nine last year, 4.8 per nine this year- but his upside is clear. The Mets will probably send him to St. Lucie, with the hope that he’ll start next season in Binghamton, for the all-important double-A threshold for a pitcher.

Think of it this way: had Carlos Beltran’s contract not contained a clause prohibiting them from offering arbitration, the Mets probably would have, if only to receive a compensatory draft pick from whoever signed him (as well as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds). A team signing Beltran probably wouldn’t have had a pick as high as six (he’d be a veteran acquisition, after all). Moreover, the Mets would have run the risk that Beltran simply accepted arbitration, a prohibitive issue for a player who earned $18.5 million in 2011, would have been due for a raise based on a spectacular 2011, and on a team that simply can’t afford to add that kind of salary. So there’s a decent chance they’d have lost him for nothing anyway.

Now, they have another high-end pitching prospect alongside Jenrry Mejia, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia. The point isn’t that all of them will make it; chances are extremely high that won’t happen. And Wheeler isn’t any guarantee himself. But the only way to develop some homegrown pitching talent is to stockpile a whole lot of it. That is the only way to guard against the ridiculous attrition rates pitching prospects experience. So getting Wheeler is a wonderful thing.

My final Beltran Booty rating: “Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrighteous deal, Sandy!”

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