#24 - Matt Wheatland

RHP Matt Wheatland came in with a lot of hype when he was drafted in the first round back in 2000, but Wheatland has yet to get a chance to prove himself, mostly because he has yet to be able to stay on the diamond.

Matt Wheatland was the Tigers first round draft pick in the 2000 draft, selected 8th overall. Big things were expected from Wheatland, however, injuries have sidetracked Wheatland ever since he was drafted. Because of these injuries, Wheatland has little to show despite the fact he's been in the organization for more than 3 years now.

Last year Wheatland spent the entire season rehabbing his arm and attempting to get back into game shape. The best hope is that reports stated that Wheatland looked impressive in Instructional Leagues and should be ready to go this upcoming spring.

Wheatland, if he can ever return to form, is a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter. Coming out of high school he drew comparisons to Kevin Brown, and while that appears to be a bit of a stretch, he has the mindset and the body to become a very good starter for many years, if he can stay on the diamond and out of the trainer's room.

Wheatland uses a fastball that stays in the low-90's, but has good sink on it. He also throws a devastating splitter and a very good slider. Coming out of high school, his best pitch was probably his slider that would run in hard on lefties, however some speculate that his arm problems could have something to do with the way he throws the slider, and so expect Wheatland to focus more on developing his change-up.

Right now, the Tigers just want to see Wheatland back on the diamond and pitching. If he can get there, then they'll start worrying about how to move him. It's really up-in-the-air as to how Wheatland is going to move, since he's lost so much development time and could need extra time just to return to his 2000 form.

His health is too big an issue to make any real educated guess on what the future holds for him. He has the potential to be a very good major league starter, but to do that, he has to stay healthy. If Wheatland shows any setbacks this season, that will probably put an end to his career. If he stays healthy, Wheatland could skyrocket up the rankings and re-appear in the top 10 of Tiger prospects.

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