In preparation for an upcoming (read three months away) fantasy baseball dynasty league draft, I spent a little time skimming through Baseball-Reference over the weekend looking for a few young and relatively unheralded prospects. The hope being that with a late round pick I could nab a guy with some solid upside who few in my league would know and even less would consider on draft day. It was through this trivial and rather preemptive search that I came across current San Diego Padres starting pitching prospect Matthew Wisler.
Wisler was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of the Ohio prep ranks and signed for a $500,000 bonus – a sum which bought him out of his commitment to Ohio State. At the time Baseball America was quoted as saying that Wisler was “easily the best high school prospect in Ohio.” Just for perspective the 2011 draft class was one of the most pitching rich drafts in recent history and included Gerrit Cole, Dylan Bundy, and Trevor Bauer amongst others. It is also because of that draft that the Padres farm system now ranks among the best in baseball. That year the Padres had five of picks in the first round including the supplemental round and seven of the first 112 picks overall. Wisler, of course, was not one of those picks but he has the potential to be the best of the Padres 2011 draft haul.
The 6-foot-3, 175lb right-hander features a solid pitching arsenal. In the prep ranks he threw up to five different types of pitches including two variations of a fastball (cut and two-seam), a slider, a change-up and curve ball. Since his arrival in the Padres organization they have had him focusing on the development of his three best offerings; a fastball that has a sinking action and sits in the low 90′s and tops out at about 93 mph, a curve ball that sits around the 73-75 mph range and a slider which he works in the mid-80′s. All of these pitches profile to be above average and he has strong command of all three. He is also going to continue to develop a change-up which will be a rather large factor in determining his success at the upper levels, but from what we have seen in 2012 he has the talent and determination to do it. Here is a video of Wisler from April of this year which shows a variety of pitches and a good look at his mechanics.
In his first season Wisler, 19, was aggressively assigned to the Midwest League where as a member of the Fort Wayne TinCaps he has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Despite being one of the youngest pitchers in his league, he has been able to dominate the older competition and post a 2.45 ERA (2.25 FIP) and 1.02 WHIP over 110 innings along with spectacular peripheral numbers including a 108:28 K/BB. His miniscule 2.3 BB/9 along with his solid 8.8 K/9 rate highlight his ability to locate in the zone and to keep opposing hitters off the base paths. He has also been the beneficiary of a 69.2% LOB rate which is a testament to his ability to finish innings and not allow base runners to score. Along with outstanding control and strikeout ability Wisler has only allowed one home run. Just for comparisons sake his fellow 19-year old counter parts like Archie Bradley, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Tyrell Jenkins have all allowed three or more long balls despite the fact that only Bradley has pitched more innings than Wisler. Roll up his ability to strike batters out, avoid walks, and not give up home runs and you are looking at a great young arm who figures to shoot up prospect lists quickly.
It will be interesting to see how the Padres chose to promote Wisler heading into 2013 as their initial aggressive plan has already paid dividends. and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the fast track to San Diego starting with a promotion to Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League. Personally I would start him off at Class A-Adv Lake Elsinore of the California League to see how he does against those hitters in what is widely considered the toughest pitching environment in the minor leagues. To date he has shown the prerequisites to succeed in such an environment (read low BB/9 and HR/9 ratios) and it might best serve his long term development to face some adversity. He has the potential to move quickly and if he were to perform well with the Storm, I would not hesitate to move him up to Double-A to finish the 2013 season. His ETA to San Diego looks to be late 2014 or early 2015.
If he stays healthy and continues to develop his pitches – especially his change-up – he could be a mainstay in the Padres rotation to start the 2015 season at the ripe old age of 22.
So as you prepare for your next dynasty league draft don’t be afraid to invest in Wisler. And if you miss out on him don’t say we didn’t warn you as Wisler has become a regular here at S2S in our continued coverage of the minors through our Prospect Pulse (here, here, here, and here) including as recently as our August 25th installment after twirling a gem against West Michigan.
For more on Matt Wisler and the San Diego Padres check out Chicken Friars!