Throughout the minor league season, I will be writing about a prospect every Monday who has reached the AA level or higher that could be on your fantasy roster by season's end, and what you should know about them. Today's prospect was recently promoted from High-A to AA after pitching extremely well to start the season in the hitter-friendly California League. Let's take a look at Padres' pitching prospect Matt Wisler.
Weight: 195 lbs.
On 40-man Roster: No
Age as of 5/13/13: 20
Wisler was drafted out of an Ohio high school in the 7th round of the 2011 draft, and received a well over slot bonus of $500,000 to forego pitching at Ohio State. Wisler only faced five batters that season in the Arizona Rookie League, but it didn't go well at all. 2 hits, 2 walks, a hit batter, and not a single out recorded. He came into the 2012 season unranked by Baseball America, outside of even the top 30 for the Padres.
However, the Padres sent Wisler to their full season Low-A affiliate, and he rewarded them handsomely with his performance. In 114 innings pitched, Wisler allowed just 95 hits, walked 28, and struck out 113 while posting a 2.53 ERA and an excellent 0.96 GO/AO ratio. He jumped up many prospect lists after that performance, ranked as the #6 prospect in the Padres' system by BA, the #8 by Baseball Prospectus, and #7 by John Sickels of Minor League Ball.
He made six starts for Lake Elsinore (High-A) to start the season, throwing 31 innings, allowing 22 hits, walking 6 and striking out 28. As a result, the Padres promoted Wisler to AA San Antonio, where he debuted yesterday with a fair start (5 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K).
The Scouting Report - Scouting reports are gathered from other internet sources and written reports, unless otherwise noted.
John Sickels provided this scouting report back on April 25th as a part of his prospect note on Wisler:
Wisler has filled out from his listed 6'3", 195, one of the reasons his four-seam fastball is sitting 93-95 this spring, with a two-seamer that is a tick below. He currently uses both a curve and a slider effectively, though he sometimes has trouble staying on top of the curve and can wind up pushing it a bit. Like many young pitchers, he's still developing feel on his changeup, which he hadn't used before signing.
The other thing that really stood out amongst the reports about Wisler was that he is considered to have excellent intangibles (makeup, etc), as also evidenced by the quote Sickels got from the Padres' pitching coordinator Mike Cather (also in the link above).
What's Keeping Him From Contributing Now?
At this point, he needs more work on a general level. He has thrown a total of 5 innings above A-ball, and there is very little reason to push him any more aggressively than the team has so far. With the Major League team currently 6.5 games back, and a number of other starting options on the 40-man roster, the team would be wise to let him continue to gain experience at the upper levels of the minor leagues. It is possible he could tread water if he were called up now, but with as many pitchers ahead of him as the Padres have, they might as well let him continue to work and improve on things. He isn't on the 40-man roster, and does not have to be protected on it until after the 2015 season.
When Could He Arrive?
If he continues to pitch well in his AA assignment, I could see him getting a call up at some point in the 2014 season, as the team currently has just one starting pitcher (Cory Luebke) under contract for the 2014 season, and a number of options available that are under team control (Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland, Robbie Erlin, Clayton Richard, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, amongst others) which have seen varying levels of success. Realistically, there is a good shot that Wisler could get a shot out of Spring Training in 2014, but I feel like it would be more likely sometime around midseason.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners Once He Gets There?
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus wrote ($) that he can see Wisler as a mid-rotation starting pitcher if everything goes right, which would lead me to see him as a back-end fantasy starting pitcher should he win a full time job. With a large portion of his starts likely to come in the pitching friendly parks of the NL West, I could see an ERA around 4.00 with a 1.20-1.25 WHIP with about 6.5-7 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. There is the potential for better, but until he throws more innings at AA I would tend to be cautiously optimistic about his potential at the Major League level.
Minor League Ball
For more on Wisler and the Padres, check out SBNation's Gaslamp Ball. For more on the minor leagues, the amateur draft, and prospects in general, check out SBNation's Minor League Ball.
You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball.