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Scouting Update: Jason Wheeler, LHP, LMU (2011 Draft)

March 19, 2011

I probably have the longest scouting history on earth for Jason Wheeler, except for the guy who once played for the great Willie Foster. This update comes off a recent look against Hawaii. It was the first time I had seen him pitch since Fall, when I thought he threw the ball very well.

If you had never seen Wheeler before this game, and you were impatient, you would have buried him as a non-athletic looking left-hander who had a hard time getting loose and couldn’t get his stuff into the game. The truth of what this guy has the potential to be is a little bit lost in what he was in this outing. In the fall, Wheeler was 90-93, and he was looser and easier. In this look, he was 87-91, mostly 87-88, and it took him a long time to bring his better stuff into the game.

Right now, he’s a two-pitch guy. At his best, Wheeler should be 90-93, not 87-88. His fastball is mostly straight, but he’s always thrown a very heavy ball, which makes getting the most downhill plan out of his 6-6 frame important. His change-up, thrown sparingly here, was 80-81, but the best change-up he threw was to Kolten Wong, and it fooled him.

Wheeler’s got a slider that’s not strong enough yet, 74-76 in this look, and slurvy. It’s a get-it-over breaking ball at this stage of his development. He has trouble getting around his slider and it’s not getting the kind of tilt or depth he’s going to need in the coming years. Maybe it’s time for a good-old fashioned hard curveball.

Now what did he show us? First of all, the guy’s arm works. He’s got a nice full circle in the back, but I’ve seen better arm speed from him than I saw today. He’s an anomaly in that he’s a tall guy who is a short-armer, so Wheeler is still feeling out his delivery and mechanics, which at this point, I’d call fair with an update to good in there.

In fairness, this is a guy who has worked hard to trim his body and to clean his delivery. What you saw today were some inconsistent separation points causing some inefficient delivery points, which is not uncommon for tall guys. If I’m working with this guy, I get him some Yoga. But that’s just me. There’s more here than today showed, and I think much of it can be unlocked with conditioning.

Sometimes, you go see a guy you want to like and he’s just marginal that day. So be it. I’ve said this before on this site about lots of guys – if you like a guy, you gotta like him, even when he’s not as good as you’d like him to be on a given day. You gotta remember, if you think he was bad, the guy probably thinks he was worse. Check again later in season.

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