When I last discussed Rangers pitching prospect Joe Wieland, it was to praise his otherworldly 96/4 K/BB in High-A–perhaps the most incredible statistic in minor league pitching this season.
When the 21-year-old was promoted to Double-A in late June, it was an open question as to how much that ridiculous ratio would drop, and how well Wieland would do against more advanced hitters.
A month later, it’s clear that Wieland is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, a fact which he pretty much sealed last night by facing the minimum 27 batters in a no-hitter of the Padres’ Double-A team (which, unlike the Padres, can actually hit; there was a while early in the season when their translated MLB line was better than the Padres).
As you might expect, Wieland’s not striking out 24 batters for every walk he issues in the Texas League, but he’s got a 1.23 ERA (!) in seven starts. In 44 innings, he’s struck out 36 and walked 11 while allowing just 35 hits and two home runs.
While his stuff–a low-90′s fastball, good curveball, and average changeup–isn’t mindblowing, it’s above-average, and since he spots everything incredibly well, he’s basically the new Jeremy Hellickson.
The Padres wanted Wieland straight-up in exchange for All-Star closer Heath Bell, and it will be interesting to see if the young righthander gets sent to San Diego.
If he does, one can’t help but salivate over the possible results Wieland could get. After all, he’s a very complete pitcher, with the ability to get whiffs, avoid walks, and keep the ball in the park–imagine how that could wind up playing in the most pitcher-friendly environment in the majors, with a good defense behind him.
Wieland’s allowed multiple runs just once in his seven Double-A starts, and he looks ready to move up yet again–in fact, he could probably hold his own in the big leagues right now. Few, if any, pitching prospects have seen their stock jump as much in 2011. The no-hitter was just the most exciting way for him to announce his unquestioned arrival to the upper echelon of minor league pitchers.
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