Wieck was a seventh-round pick by the Mets in the 2014 draft, and the Padres picked him up as the add-on piece in a March 30, 2015 trade with the Mets for Alex Torres(LHP, Triple-A Sacramento, PCL). Wieck has a massive frame with very long arms and legs, which he uses to create considerable deception. He does not have a very firm body, but does display some lower-half strength and overall flexibility. He has a big crossfire delivery and ¾ arm angle, both of which serve to make him a very uncomfortable at-bat for any left-handed hitter. He has some trouble repeating his release point, but I think some of that can be attributed to him, even at 24 years old, still growing into his body and finding his coordination. Furthermore, The Padres tinkered with his arm slot after acquiring him last year, raising it to high ¾ only to see his velocity drop several mph.
He spent all of 2015 in the rotation, making 12 starts at Class A Fort Wayne and Savannah, and then 11 starts for Lake Elsinore, totaling 123 IP. Wieck showed a plus fastball that sat 93-to-94 mph with late life in a 1.1 IP appearance last week vs. Rancho Cucamonga, but he struggled to locate it with any kind of consistency. He also features a below-average slider that, while shallow and lacking much bite, plays up a good bit vs. lefties due to his arm action and his ability to throw it for strikes. However his best pitch may end up being his circle changeup. At 82-to-85 mph, he gets late bottom, and is able to get some come-back when using it to the glove side.
Wieck has always had ability to generate significant swing and miss (218 Ks through 178 professional innings). His high-maintenance delivery and quick arm work to play up his stuff, and he’s averaged about 12 K’s/9 since beginning his pro career. He saw that ratio drop to 8.4 K’s/9 last year with Lake Elsinore as a starting pitcher, but that was reportedly because was sitting in the upper 80s with the fastball while trying to adjust to the higher arm angle.
Since being moved to the bullpen full time and dropping his arm back to the ¾ slot, he has seen his groundball rate go from 0.80 in 2015 to 1.10 through 29 IP this year. His K’s are back up as well, sitting at 12.4 K’s/9 after his last outing on June 4th. It is easy to see why San Diego likes this kid, and while he may be a little bit old for the level, he still has less than 200 innings as a pro, and already has worked through a couple of not-insignificant adjustments. Command in the zone and walks have been issues for him; his BB/9 have gone in the wrong direction each year from 2014 (2.1, 3.6, 4.0 respectively) and his Hits/9 sit at 8.3 so far as a pro.
However, he was a different pitcher as a starter – working with a below-average fastball, it is hard to battle back when down in the count. Now that he has found his velocity as a reliever, his margin for error has gone way up, and factor in that he doesn’t have to work through a lineup multiple times an outing, and his weapons significantly increase in potency. Once he settles into the reliever role, I see him getting more consistent with his fastball command, maybe getting to fringe average. If his plus changeup continues to develop, his slider then becomes serviceable as a third pitch. His mechanics will always require attention, but he is athletic for a big man, and I believe will see the coordination come as he gets stronger. If he can get to fringe-average command with the fastball, look for everything else to fall in line and I bet he starts to rise quickly through the Padres’ system.