2013 Total Stats: 50.1 IP, 2.32 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 13.23 K/9, 2.86 BB/9
Beck Wheeler pitched the entire season in Low-A Savannah and was dominant in his relief role. He got off to a tremendous start, not allowing an earned run in six April appearances that saw him strike out 14 batters while walking just one over 9.2 innings. He would continue to post gaudy numbers, especially in the strikeout department, while holding down the closer role for the Sand Gnats. The 6’3 righty, who went undrafted in 2011, would finish the season with 19 saves and leave a lasting impression on his coaches while opening the eyes of the organization.
While most will overlook Wheeler’s performance in the Sally League because of his advanced aged (he pitched the entire season at 24) it’s important to fully understand his background. Beck was a shortstop until his senior season in college. So pitching is still very new to him, and I think he’s taken to it quite well. He’s got great makeup, work ethic, and the desire to get better– which was most evident in the improvement of his command in 2013. The stuff is also there, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90′s, a good splitter and a developing curve. He’s got all the ingredients you’re looking for in a relief prospect.
MMO Prospect Chat
Senior Editor David Conde talks baseball with Beck…
David: This past season with Savannah, you pitched in 43 games and recorded 19 saves, what can you say attributed to your turnaround?
Beck: This year I just felt way more comfortable out on the mound. I had two years of professional baseball under my belt. I gained so much knowledge talking with our pitching coach Frank Viola and the guys in our bullpen. Frank helped me understand how to pitch more effectively and scenarios that I should be throwing certain pitches.
David: In Game 4 of the Championship series with Savannah, you were on the mound when the last out was recorded to win the championship, what did it feel like to be the man to close it out and earn the save?
Beck: It was definitely an exciting moment, the crowd was standing and it felt like the game was moving in slow-motion, almost how it’s portrayed in the movies. After the third out was recorded I was tackled by Jeff Glenn and the next thing I knew, I was on the bottom of the dog pile.
David: Can you describe the feeling of winning the South Atlantic League Championship, this past season with Savannah?
Beck: It was definitely the best moment of my baseball career thus far. Playing night after night for 140 games can be such a grind, so winning the Championship just put the icing on the cake.
David: What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?
Beck: Catcher Kevin Plawecki. He is a good hitter who doesn’t strikeout often and has some power. He was very dependable behind the plate and understands his pitchers and calls a great game. It gave me a lot of confidence when he asked for me to throw a certain off speed pitch in the dirt and he would block it, even with runners in scoring position.
I’m usually in favor of the organization being aggressive with college experienced players, but in Wheeler’s case I would make an exception. He made great strides in 2013 and I wouldn’t want to wipe that away by placing him amongst competition he may not be ready for. I think an assignment in High-A St. Lucie to start the season would be a good measuring stick for just how far he’s come. It’s important to be patient and let him get the reps he needs, because he’s still in the infancy stages of learning to pitch. However that’s also what makes him so intriguing. He may take some time, but there’s a lot to like about this kid both on the field and off.