Geoff Blum announced his release from the D-backs on his Twitter (@blummer27) earlier today. It was something that was coming sooner or later with John McDonald expected back from the DL and the possibility of minor league call ups.
The later is what actually happened as the D-backs called up Ryan Wheeler from Triple-A Reno.
Wheeler was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University. He is listed at 6’3″ and 235 lbs. on the Reno Aces team site but is probably a bit heavier than that.
Wheeler has played 3B in 49 games this season but has also played 32 at 1B and 10 in LF. His defensive acumen, or lack thereof, at 3B lead many to believe he will not play there in the majors.
Unfortunately for the D-backs, that is the one position on the diamond that is the most easily upgraded.
Ryan Roberts, Josh Bell, Cody Ransom, and Willie Bloomquist have not been able to hold down 3B this season and the D-backs have really struggled to find any offensive output from the position.
The D-backs 3B have combined for a putrid .632 OPS for the season at 3B. That is by far the worst number of all eight fielding positions for the D-backs.
And Wheeler should be able to help out with his bat.
This year at Reno, (It should be noted that Reno is an extreme hitters’ park. Imagine Coors field with everybody on steroids) Wheeler is hitting .351 with a .572 slugging percentage. That’s inflated and Wheeler wouldn’t come anywhere close to those averages in the majors.
A more realistic upside for Wheeler is his 2011 stats in Double-A Mobile. Wheeler hit .294 with a .465 slugging. If he hits close to that, the D-backs will find room for him on the roster even if he isn’t able to play 3B like I’m sure many are hoping he can.
The most likely scenario for Wheeler is as a platoon mate for Paul Goldschmidt. Wheeler is a lefty hitter and destroys right-handed pitching and struggles against lefties. Paul Goldschmidt on the other hand is ungodly against lefties and struggles a bit against right handers. It’s possible that Wheeler and Goldschmidt could create a platoon tandem that is devastating against lefties and righties.