Ryan Wheeler seemed a bit confused as he settled into the Rockies’ organization. He saw far too many people who played his position and wondered why in the world the franchise had just dealt for him.
“I don’t know, maybe they’re looking to move some of us or something,” Wheeler said in early April, two days before he debuted with the Sky Sox.
Turns out, the team just needed that depth, as it illustrated on Thursday when Wheeler was called up to replace the injured Todd Helton. Wheeler started at third and batted sixth, going 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout against Arizona — the franchise that dealt Wheeler to Colorado in November for reliever Matt Reynolds.
Many Rockies fans undoubtedly would have liked to have seen Nolan Arenado get this call, as the team’s top prospect has assaulted Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .759 slugging percentage entering Thursday with 21 RBIs in 16 games. But there’s no reason for the team to rush Arenado and start the ticking of his free agency clock.
As for Wheeler, he’s certainly more than organizational filler. And the fragility of the Rockies’ core is exactly why they brought him aboard. Between Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, none have played as many as 145 games in a season since 2009.
Wheeler was rated as the No. 10 prospect in the Rockies’ organization by “Baseball America” this year following a campaign where he hit .351 with 90 RBIs in 93 games for Triple-A Reno last year before playing 50 games for the Diamondbacks.
The Rockies would be wise to plug him at third through Helton’s DL stint to see what they have in him. He was batting .348 for the Sky Sox with 16 RBIs through 15 games. His memorable moment in his short stay was a towering walk-off home run against Tucson.
The Rockies, by the way, could save some money by having their Triple-A guys carpool. Wheeler joins Tyler Chatwood and Rob Scahill as players who have been called up in the past four days (though Scahill was already sent back down).One other thing to note with Wheeler