It’s not really a big surprise, but Mets manager Terry Collins confirmed on Saturday that top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler will open the 2013 season with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
“He needs to go to Triple-A and pitch,” Collins told reporters at Mets camp in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “He wants to be on the staff? Go be the best pitcher in Triple-A. Force us to call him up.”
Wheeler, who was acquired in 2011 from the Giants for Carlos Beltran, posted a 3.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 148/59 K/BB in 149 innings last season between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. He was Baseball America‘s No. 8 prospect this winter.
The 22-year-old right-hander seems likely to make his major league debut in early 2013.
There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.
The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.
All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.
After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.
Here’s today’s schedule: