MetsBlog’s Michael Baron recently spoke with Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen about Zack Wheeler, how he’s progressed through the minor leagues, the effects of playing in Las Vegas in 2013, and how he compares to Matt Harvey…
Michael Baron: What are some of the things Wheeler excels at right now?
Dan Warthen: This is the first time I’ve really had eyes on Wheeler, but I cannot believe how clean the ball comes out of his hand. What immense amount of talent he has. He throws four quality pitches, he has a great demeanor, and he doesn’t seem to get rattled. It’s just a matter of him repeating and throwing his pitches. I’d like to see him have to struggle a little bit so he’d have to use his other pitches. He’s always been able to say at whatever level, “if I’m in trouble I got an extra gear here and I’ll throw my fastball by him’. The fun part for Wheeler will be when he learns more about using his stuff, because it’s all well above average.
Michael Baron: Presumably he’s going to go to Triple-A Las Vegas to start the year. Does that effect his throwing and development program because it’s such a hitter-friendly environment?
Dan Warthen: I don’t think so. Vegas is definitely a hitter’s ballpark and the heat gets horrible at times. But he has to make sure the nightlife – which he’s never had any issues with whatsoever – doesn’t get into him. But are we going to change things because the Pacific Coast League is an offensive league? No, I don’t see us changing anything. I don’t care about the runs – If you have a 5.00 ERA there you’ve had a really good year. But I worry about the long innings. It’s easy to have a 25-pitch inning when you should’ve had three outs in eight or ten pitches. Outfielders have to play a little further back, hits fall in, etc, etc.
Michael Baron: What are some differences – from a pitching personality perspective – between Wheeler and Harvey?
Dan Warthen: Harvey’s got the four years of major college and he has confidence. He’s a little more outspoken, whereas Zack, from what I’ve got so far, has got a huge, quiet confidence and believes in himself but isn’t really outgoing as much as Harvey. But his stuff matches Harvey’s, if not better.
In this video from yesterday, MetsBlog’s Brian Erni and Vinny Cartiglia watch Wheeler throw his first live batting practice of the spring…