45 Prospects in 45 Days: San Diego’s Matt Wisler
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
Matt Wisler is a tall, rather polished right handed pitcher. After being taken in the seventh round of the 2011 first year player draft, it’s kind of shocking that he’s already essentially – or at least close to being – major league ready.
Wisler’s body type allows for him to get great plane and velocity on his fastball. His athleticism allows for him to be able to command his pitches well at the moment – as evidenced by his stellar walk rates.
If Wisler is able to continue on his developmental track without too many hiccups, a solid middle-of-the-rotation fantasy option could be in front of us. He should be able to take advantage of his home yard, and get a good chunk of strikeouts in the process. Nearly any pitcher can be somewhat attractive in San Diego, but Wisler will probably be able to pitch anywhere. The ballpark is just a plus.
Wisler is basically a unanimous pick for the Padres’ second pick behind catcher Austin Hedges. Keith Law, Jason Parks, and Marc Hulet all ranked Wisler second in San Diego’s system. Keith Law placed him 39th in his overall top 100, while Jason Parks slotted him in at 47th.
Opinions differ a little on Wisler’s ultimate ceiling, however. Parks sees his realistic role as a number four starter, and his ceiling as a number three. While, both Hulet and Law see Wisler as a number 2 who should be able to handle 200 innings pretty regularly.
An excerpt of Law’s scouting report is below, and can be found in full here:
Wisler works with two plus pitches already, a fastball at a legit 93-96 mph and a slider that’s a grade 60 or a 70, working consistently in the bottom of the zone and showing no fear when attacking hitters on the inner half or even when falling behind in the count. The main knock on Wisler is his delivery, as he doesn’t use his lower half as much as he should and he pronates his pitching arm late, with his front foot already touching the ground. That leads to some inconsistency in his slot, but he hasn’t had any trouble yet with command or control, only with his feel for his changeup, which he can’t turn over properly when his arm drifts down.
Parks had many of the same concerns regarding his delivery and the ultimate ability of his change-up to fade and not straighten out. His scouting report also noted that Wisler’s slider is less effective on lefties, so the further development of the change-up is rather imperative, although as of now it doesn’t seem to be a detriment on his projection.
Minor League Production
Wisler has absolutely dominated the minors. It’s extremely hard for major league hitters to hit a well located fastball, so it should come as no surprise that Wisler’s been able to carve up minor leaguers with his command. I like to use percentages in regards to to strikeouts and walks because it is a better judge, but try this on for size, Wisler has never walked more than 2.31 batters per nine. Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing for young pitchers to do is not beat themselves. And Wisler has obviously taken that to heart, because he doesn’t put himself in danger very often.
Steamer projections aren’t included because the system only projects Wisler to throw one major league inning, but for the record the rate stats provided by the system basically split the difference of the two systems listed above.
Oliver is a bigger believer in Wisler than ZiPS is, but I often find that to be the case with minor league players. For instance, Oliver projects Mookie Betts as a 5-win player this season! And I think we all know, if that was the case, he wouldn’t be in the minor leagues.
Back to our topic, Wisler’s projected to lose more than 7% of his strikeouts by ZiPS. Personally, that seems a little high, but I’m also not a supercomputer with a bunch of data, so I’ll shutup. That being said, I’d take the over on the strikeouts, and perhaps a little under on the ERA, but not much.
The Padres’ rotation is a mystery. No one knows which Josh Johnson will show up. Andrew Cashner looks like he could be well on his way to joining the upper echelon of starters. Tyson Ross made strides in 2013. Ian Kennedy’s in a better park for his skill set. But after those four? There’s Eric Stults, who is ok, but likely not blocking anyone. Robbie Erlin can’t match Wisler’s stuff. Casey Kelly is also there, but he’s likely to start the season in Triple-A in order to get a little more seasoning, and his stuff isn’t as good as Wisler’s.
Best case scenario, Wisler is called up during the second half in order to give the Padres a shot in the arm. If that occurs, he’s likely nearly a must-add in most leagues. At the minimum, he should be started every home game. Wisler’s not far from the majors, and pitchers are peaking earlier than ever, so there’s no reason to think he can’t be productive once his number is called.