MadFriars’ 2012 Pitcher of the Year: Matt Wisler

“Its really an honor particularly with the pitching talent and depth we have in our organization,” said Matt Wisler upon being name the MadFriars’ Pitcher of the Year for 2012.

In the seventh round of the 2011 draft the Padres took a bit of a flyer on a right-handed pitching prospect out of Bryan, Ohio by going over the above the slot recommendation to sign him for a $500,000 bonus according to Baseball America draft database.

Wisler, as it is with most players that go from high school to professional baseball, was beyond good in high school.  During his senior year he had a 0.17 ERA, striking out 71 batters in 42 innings and only allowing 13 hits and 7 walks all season for a 6-1 record.

How even lost a game is still a mystery.

A lanky 6-foot-3-three inches with an ability to throw in the low 90’s, Wisler was considered to have a decent curve and a good slider.  But as with most young players the key was his consistency which held most evaluators back from making him a top selection along with a seemingly strong commitment to Ohio State.

Throw in the fact that he was also from a Division II school in cold weather state which is not at the same competitive level as Florida, California and Texas led many scouts to recommend to see where he was at three years into his career as a Buckeye.

Then Padres’ Director of Scouting and Player Development Jason MacLeod saw Wisler as the type of player that an organization seeking to develop talent through its farm system should go after; a talented right-hander with upside.  Armed with a new philosophy of spending money deep in the draft they were able to convince Wisler the time to start his professional career was now.  

“The biggest reason was that playing major league baseball has always been one of my biggest goal,” Wisler said on his reasons for going pro.  “I was given an opportunity to learn the wood bat game and thought that I had to take it.”

“College would have been a good experience but everything that I have heard from a variety of people if you really want to pitch in the big leagues its better to start earlier than later.”

With the exception of a brief appearance in the Arizona League after signing late in 2011 this year was his first full professional season.  San Diego showed confidence in his abilities by putting him in the Midwest League to begin the year on the basis of a strong performance in spring training.

“I was a little shocked. I thought I would be in extended [spring] and then to Eugene, but it was great to go to Fort Wayne because it was so close to home, said Wisler.”

His toughest month was in April where he posted a 4.12 ERA.  After that his highest one was a 2.70 in June as he finished the year with a 2.53 ERA.  Wisler attributed his success to just becoming acclimated to the pro game.

“When my preparation got better, my command improved and I was able to locate my fastball down in the zone.  When I was getting the ball up is when I was getting hurt.  I thought along with my fastball command my change-up and breaking pitches also improved.”  

“You learn really quick that if you throw a fastball up the batters are going to hit it.”

The most impressive part of his year was his ability to take the ball consistently for 114 innings and simply pound the zone with 113 strikeouts against only 28 walks and 95 hits; very important ratios for any pitcher but particularly for someone who just turned nineteen.

“He has a great arm and a clean delivery and can throw strikes with all of his pitches,” said Randy Smith, the Padres’ Director of Development and International Scouting.

“His body is going to mature and our job is to make sure his innings workload doesn’t outpace his physical development.”

One of the big keys to his development may have come last winter after his father visited Matt’s apartment in Arizona and had some comments on his diet.

“My Dad came out to visit and he really got on me for eating too many microwaved frozen food diners,” Wiser laughingly recalled.

“He wanted me to start eating more fresh meat and vegetables and we went out and bought a George Foreman Grill.  I started to grill about five nights a week and began to feel much better and have more energy.”

“So, yeah my Dad’s cooking tips were a big factor in my success.”