Name: Joe Wieland
Notable 2011 Stats: 2.10 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 7 HRA, 4 BB, 96 K, and 44% GB% in 85 2/3 IP with Myrtle Beach (High-A);
1.23 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 2 HRA, 11 BB, 36 K, and 45% GB% in 44 IP with Frisco (AA);
2.77 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 0 HRA, 6 BB, 18 K, and 34% GB% in 26 IP with San Antonio (AA);
1.97 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 9 HRA, 21 BB, 150 K, and 42% GB% in 155 2/3 IP total
Why He’s This High: Wieland’s High-A statline was right there with Tom Milone‘s AAA numbers and everything Matt Moore did as the most impressive statistical performance from a pitching prospect this year. He continued to fill the zone in Double-A, finishing with an absurd 150/21 K/BB ratio while keeping both his ERA and FIP below 3.00 at each of his three stops.
A big, durable pitcher with easy mechanics, Wieland throws an 88-93 mph fastball with good life, and both his curveball and changeup are at least average and could move toward plus status with more refinement. His delivery allows him to put his pitches wherever he wants, and he had no trouble limiting hard contact in the upper minors despite the frequency at which he pounds the strike zone.
Why He’s This Low: Wieland’s strikeout rates in Double-A were nothing special, and he’s not a huge groundball guy, so it’s tempting to just look at him as more of a Liam Hendriks sort of pitcher than a front-of-the-rotation stud. Certainly, it’s possible that his strikeout rate will jump back up in 2012 when he settles in to the upper minors–see Wily Peralta as a recent example of that phenomenon–but given Wieland’s lack of bigtime stuff, that’s tough to assume.
Conclusions: Looking back on this ranking almost three months after I made it, I think this was a bit on the ambitious side for Wieland. Obviously, to do what he did as a 21-year-old is very impressive, but he probably could stand to move back a couple dozen spots. That said, we’re looking at a potential Doug Fister-type guy here, with a miniscule walk rate and average strikeout and groundball ability ending up making him a #2 starter regardless of scouting conventions. Wieland has moved much faster and is considered a much better prospect than Fister ever was, so he’s got that going for him; while it’s quite possible he merely becomes an innings-eating mid-rotation starter in the Jon Garland mold, I don’t think we should rule out Wieland surpassing that projection.
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