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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Giants Take Zach Wheeler At 6

Well, the 2009 MLB Amateur draft has officially begun, and the Giants first pick is in the books. I think they were really hoping that either Tyler Matzek or Zach Wheeler ended up falling to them at 6, and when the Orioles surprised by taking Matt Hobgood at 5, the Giants then had their choice as to which prep arm to take. Goes to show you just how unpredictable this MLB draft can be.

I talked a little about Zack Wheeler a few posts back here but I really thought they were leaning towards Tyler Matzek, especially after the lefty from Capistrano, California touched 99 mph on the gun in a recent high school playoff game. However, Wheeler was generally considered to be the slightly better arm of the two, and I think the Giants may have been leaning toward Matzek thinking that Wheeler would be taken between picks 3-5. Wheeler is a big, power arm from Georgia who was widely thought of as the best high school pitcher in this draft (and there's about 6 of them that are all really close). The kids motion and delivery are almost identical to that of Dodgers right-handed ace, Chad Billinglsy, and he really has the same type of stuff. He's got a huge stride and almost a sweeping 3/4 arm slot. His fastball ranges from 91-95, sitting at 93 with consistency. He's got a big curveball that is going to be a plus pitch in the bigs, along with an average changeup that he didn't use too much in high school. At 6'4", he's got the type of frame to bulk up and develop into an innings eater.

The only slight knock on the right-hander, is that he sometimes loses his command of the strikezone. He has shown the ability to get out of it when he does get himself into trouble, but that's something he's going to have to improve on. Other than that, he's right along the lines of former top picks Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain as far as hard-throwing, high school arms from the south. As a senior this year at East Paulding High in Georgia, Wheeler was all kinds of nasty, going 9-0, sporting a 0.54 ERA and striking out a freakish 149 batters in only 76 innings pitched. He also only allowed 31 hits on the year as well. I've attached some video of Wheeler below and I will add more to this post later on in the day after the Giants have a few more selections so stay tuned. Draft Coverage here is just beginning!

-Zach Wheeler dominates a high school batter at Wrigley: Video 1
-Wheeler out of stretch: Video 2
-Wheeler on MLB.com's scouting video : Video 3

**Update: With their second rounder, the Giants nabbed the big-hitting high school catcher/first basemen out of Arizona, Tommy Joseph. In the third round, they took one of the drafts better third basemen and someone we've covered here a bit on the Giants blog, Chris Dominguez out of Louisville. Much, much more on the draft, including day one recap and day two updates coming Wednesday.
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    Wheeler's a good one. He should have gone in the top 5. Him and Bumgarner are going to be awesome together. The Giants really have a ton of pitching. I have a feeling they are going to trade someone.

     
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