Joe Wieland’s Journey To Frisco

Carolina League All-Star Joe Wieland is now a Frisco RoughRider. The Rangers made the move earlier today, and Wieland is expected to start for the RoughRiders tonight against Corpus Christi. Today on the blog, Stephen Harmon talks about Wieland’s trip from high school to Double-A. Check it out.
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Few high school baseball players are talented enough to bat over .500 and lead their state in RBIs. The 21-year-old Reno native, Joe Wieland (pronounced WEE-land), did just that during his senior year at Bishop Manogue high school in Nevada. What’s even more impressive is that the Rangers drafted him in the 4th round of the 2008 draft not for his bat, but for his right arm.

Standing at 6’3’’, Wieland attracted scouts from across major league baseball during his senior year in high school. The Rangers were impressed with his control and his 90 mph fastball, which he could manipulate to drastically run in and way from hitters. Although Wieland originally signed a letter of intent to play at San Diego State University, the opportunity to play professional baseball was too much to resist.

His high school coach, Charles Oppio said of Wieland, “As good as he is athletically and physically, mentally he’s the best player I ever had.” Wieland’s advanced mental game proved ready for the minors as he baffled professional hitters in his first season. After being drafted in June of 2008, he made his professional debut in the Arizona League where he posted a 1.44 ERA alongside 5 wins over 13 games, seven of which were starts.

Wieland’s next stop in the Rangers farm system came in 2009 where he spent the season pitching for the Low-A Hickory Crawdads. Midway through 2010 Wieland earned a promotion to High-A Bakersfield, the Rangers previous Advanced-A team before making the move to Myrtle Beach this season.

Before Wieland’s promotion, he impressed the Rangers with a 3.34 ERA over 15 starts in Hickory. Although Wieland initially struggled in Bakersfield by giving up 30 runs in his first 33 innings, he soon adjusted and posted a 1.73 ERA with 28 strikeouts and four walks over his final 26 innings pitched.  His time in Bakersfield has highlighted by a career-high 14-strikeout performance on August 3 at Visalia.  For his efforts, Weiland was named California League Pitcher of the Week.

The 2011 season saw Wieland make his debut for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans out of the bullpen. After one scoreless appearance in relief, Wieland was back into the starting rotation, where he dominated the Carolina League by mixing in a plus curveball with his fastball. The Pelican’s ace continued to show off his impeccable control. Through 85 and two-thirds innings, Wieland struck out an astounding 96 batters and walked only four.

With these numbers, it is no surprise that the Reno native owns the best walks per nine innings ratio in all of minor league baseball. The right-hander’s impressive start to the season made him Carolina League’s starting pitcher in the Carolina League-California League All-Star Game this season where he worked a perfect 1-2-3 first inning.

Wieland’s best start for the Pelicans this season was in a rain shortened 7-inning complete game shutout on May 11. This dominant performance came directly after a previous start that saw him toss six innings of shutout baseball against Potomac that included thirteen strikeouts.

The hard throwing righty comes to Frisco after pitching alongside fellow highly touted pitching prospects, Robbie Erlin, Robbie Ross, and former first round draft pick, Barret Loux.  20-year-old, Erlin made the jump from Myrtle Beach to Frisco earlier this year in late May, and just tossed a 14-strikeout gem against the Corpus Christi Hooks on Sunday.

Ross, a second round draft pick in 2008, pitched six scoreless innings and allowed only two hits and no walks Sunday afternoon for the Pelicans against the Salem Red Sox. Teammate and Texas A&M product Barret Loux owns a 7-1 record and has compiled 81 strikeouts in just 73 and one-third innings pitched. Riders’ fans can more than likely expect to see both Ross and Loux at Dr Pepper Ballpark before the end of the year.

Coming from a standout pitching rotation that leads the Carolina League in ERA and strikeouts, Wieland has shown that he is both mentally and physically ready to contribute to the ‘Riders.  He makes his Double-A debut Monday night in Corpus Christi against the Hooks.
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Pre-game coverage for the ‘Riders and the Hooks begins at 6:35 on the ‘Riders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

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