Wieland Gets Call to The Show

Every player processes the news of their first big league call up differently. Some whoop and holler. Some suppress the excitement and act as if they expected it all along.

Right-hander Joe Wieland, however, experienced an outpouring of emotion in the Tucson Padres dugout when he learned of his promotion to the Padres’ big league club. He broke down crying and began hugging all of his teammates that surrounded him.

Wieland is expected to make his first major league start on Saturday evening on the road against a division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 22-year-old pitcher came to the Padres organization last season from Texas in the Mike Adams trade. His stuff will not overpower anyone, but his command and pitchability have always been well above average on the mound. In fact, at the time of the trade last summer, Wieland had only walked four batters in 85.2 innings for Myrtle Beach, Texas’ High-A affiliate in the California League, and had struck out 96.

He features a high-80s, low-90s fastball that comes at the opposing batter relatively straight. Last fall, his fastball reportedly touched 94-95 MPH, but it generally sits a few ticks lower on the gun. Because the pitch lacks significantly life, Wieland relies on changing speeds and spotting the fastball on the corners with precision. Baseball America writes in their 2012 Prospect Handbook that he also throws an overhand curveball, a changeup, and occasionally a slider.

For Wieland’s career, the trade from Texas to San Diego proved to be a huge blessing. Not only was he traded to an organization that provided more upward mobility and a more aggressive developmental timeline to reach the major leagues, but he also found himself in a stadium that should better suit his style on the mound.

Pitchers who do not possess a plus fastball and rely mostly on command and deception do not always fare well at the big league level, especially those command pitchers who posted a 38.6% groundball rate in the minor leagues last season. That combination screams high home run rate. Petco Park, however, suppresses home runs. In 2011, Petco ranked 23rd amongst 30 ballparks in terms of home run rate. On the other hand, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington — where Wieland hypothetically would have pitched had he not been traded — ranked number one in home run rate by a wide margin.

ZiPS projects Wieland to compile a 4.06 ERA over 146.1 innings of work at the big league level this year. While not Rookie of the Year material in the National League, it’s certainly very valuable for a small market team searching for cost-controlled talent, especially considering the fact that the average ERA for a starting pitcher in 2011 was exactly 4.06.

It is unclear how long Wieland will remain in the big leagues this season. The Padres are scrambling to fill the shoes of Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer, who both currently sit on the 15-day DL. When both right-handers return to the starting rotation, Wieland could very simply be sent down to Triple-A to slow his service clock and to avoid rushing him to the big league level before he has even proven the ability to dominate Triple-A hitters.

Eventually, Joe Wieland profiles to be a solid fourth or fifth starter at the big league level. He could post a few above-average seasons and be considered a third starter at times. Pitching in Petco Park should aid him in his transition to the big leagues, though, limiting his home run rate and allowing him to learn at the big league level with more leeway than he would have otherwise gotten in Texas.

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J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).

13 Responses to “Wieland Gets Call to The Show”

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  1. Aggie E says:

    Good Luck to Wieland and Robbie Erlin. this trade helped both teams..

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  2. Franco says:

    He might project to have a 4.06 ERA, and you’re implying he’d be league average as a result. I think ZiPs includes park adjustment which would make him probably lot less than average.

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  3. SeaBass says:

    I don’t know why, but funding out he cried when finding out he was called up made me happy. Shows to me that he must really love to play the game and doesn’t take it all for granted. There are players all over the majors that are known for dogging it (I’m looking at your Rios…) and I hope Wieland pitches like he may never pitch in the bigs again.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Shows to me that he must really love to play the game and doesn’t take it all for granted.

      It could also mean that he’s just a very emotional person.

      It could also mean that he can’t control his emotions, which wouldn;t be a good thing.

      Sometimes guys are quiet and subdued, not out of apathy, but out of respect for the players that didn’t just get called up.

      There are plenty of us that don;t work every day as if it were our last day of working … nor do we work of the vigilance of someone that’s thankful that they have such a good job and are in a fortunate situation.

      I enjoy viewing genuine reactions and I hope his does well. But, had he hooped and hollered like another 22yo might do, I enjoy it just the same.

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      • noseeum says:

        It could also mean he drank a 12 pack in the locker room and was wasted when he heard. Sometimes people are emotional when drunk.

        C’mon guys, seriously. It doesn’t mean anything other than the guy was happy to have achieved a dream he’s worked for since the first time his dad put a glove on his hand and told him there’s no crying in baseball.

        Congrats to you, Mr. Weiland.

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      • DC Nats says:

        One incident does not mean he is overly emotional. If he were, he would be noted for reacting emotionally to negative pressure in games. I’ve never once read a report that he went all Zambrano in the dugout after a bad outing. That would confirm that he’s emotional. But this was probably the happiest moment of his life. Good for him. I’m glad to hear he was so happy and thankful.

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  4. Drakos says:

    Based on the MRI results for Moseley he won’t be back anytime soon.

    “Right now, this doesn’t look like something that’s going to take care of itself,” said Black. “The results came back from the MRI that showed some extensive damage to the shoulder. We’re not sure where this is going to lead us as we move forward, but he’s going to be shut down for a period of time that’s going to take him well past the 15 days.”

    If Wieland outperforms Anthony Bass (filling in for Stauffer) it will be interesting to see who sticks in the rotation once Stauffer is healthy. Or if Wieland struggles and Bass struggles or Stauffer is out for longer Casey Kelly may get the call.

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  5. Drew says:

    Think: Danny Haren. That’s who Wieland is. A mid-tier prospect who projects as nothing more than rotation filler (go back and look at Haren’s scouting reports) gradually gains velocity and puts together a phenomenal breakthrough year (Wieland ’11, Haren ’03) that puts him on the prospect map. He gets traded into a good situation and ballpark and his excellent command carries over in the big leagues. Suddenly that #4 type starter becomes a legit #2 innings eater with good K/9 and K/BB. Luckily the internet will archive this for me. Cause I ain’t gonna be wrong.

    Minor Lg stats:
    Haren (474 ip): 3.15, 1.127, 8.8 K/9, 5.37 K/BB
    Wieland (438 ip): 3.29, 1.167, 8.4 K/9, 5.1 K/BB

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    • Aggie E says:

      So all prospects that have similar numbers to Dan Haren’s ’03 numbers and are considered back of the rotation starters will become Dan Haren..

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      • Andrew says:

        I think a large part of the comparison that you chose to leave out in your reply is the uptick in velocity. This would filter your sample quite a bit.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Wouldn’t a significant difference be that 1/3 of Haren’s MiLB IP were at AAA, while JW has never pitched above AA?

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    • vhailorx says:

      There are definitely some problems with this analysis, and a Dan Haren outcome is unlikely even for highly touted prospects, but I do think Wieland is the kind of guy who has the chance to surprise everyone if he can either add a little bit of velocity or develop a cutter or sinker that adds movement to his fastball. There’s at least some track record of command/pitchability guys with only so-so stuff turning into stars/borderline stars after reaching majors with some minor tweaks to their performance (just off the top of my head: Haren, Cliff Lee, Scott Baker).

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  6. Um says:

    For the record, Wieland pitched 44 innings in AA before the trade last year as well.

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