Wheeler eyes vertical horizon
SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are eagerly waiting for Zack Wheeler to grow into a Major Leaguer before their very eyes, with an emphasis on “grow.”
Wheeler, 19, already stands 6-foot-4. One of his brothers also is 6-4 and another is 6-6. Their father, Barry, is 6-3 while their mother, Elaine, checks in at 5-9.
“I’m hoping to grow a half-inch,” said Wheeler, San Francisco’s No. 1 selection in June’s First-Year Player Draft who’s participating in the club’s conditioning camp that began Monday at AT&T Park.
Extending the measuring tape would give Wheeler a bigger frame to accommodate the 10 pounds he hopes to gain. Currently at 185, Wheeler should easily carry the extra weight even if he doesn’t grow a millimeter.
The added bulk would bode well for Wheeler’s fastball. The right-hander, who received a reported $3.3 million bonus after the Giants selected him sixth overall, learned this as an upperclassman at East Paulding (Ga.) High School.
“Between my junior and senior year I gained 15 pounds,” Wheeler said. Before the weight gain, Wheeler said, his velocity dwindled from 92 mph in the first couple of innings to the high 80s for the rest of the game. But Wheeler related that as a senior, he was able to touch 96 mph as late as the seventh inning.
– Chris Haft