The Mets might call up top prospect Zack Wheeler this year

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Well, this is a surprise.

Most have assumed that Zack Wheeler’s major league debut will wait until 2013. Odds are it still will, but Mets manager Terry Collins hasn’t ruled out the possibility that it could happen sooner.

According to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, Collins told reporters this afternoon that Wheeler is “not out of the mix” for a promotion to the majors this year. Collins made the comments while discussing Matt Harvey as a potential replacement for Dillon Gee, who had surgery Friday to replace a portion of a damaged artery in his throwing shoulder.

Wheeler, who was acquired from the Giants last July for Carlos Beltran, is on the brink of a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo after posting a 2.62 ERA and 88/35 K/BB ratio in 92 2/3 innings over 15 starts at the Double-A level this year. Baseball America recently ranked him as the No. 10 prospect in the game on their midseason list. The 22-year-old right-hander is quickly approaching his career-high of 115 innings from last year and Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that he’s expected to be capped around 150 innings. Obviously Collins would love the help at the major league level, but Mets general manager Sandy Alderson could have a different opinion on the matter.

While it would probably take a unique set of circumstances for Wheeler to make his way to the majors this year, Harvey could be up as soon as next week. According to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger, Mets manager Terry Collins gave the impression that Harvey’s next start with Triple-A Buffalo on Monday will essentially function as an audition to pitch one week from today against the Dodgers. No pressure, kid.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.