2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Fortune smiles on the Sky Sox, Wheeler

Published: May 2, 2014, 7:12 pm, by Brent Briggeman

It was 71 degrees at first pitch at Security Service Field on Friday night. The flags in left field were barely moving.

If you were in Colorado Springs at any point over the past week, you can appreciate the good fortune this represents.

The week of mid-40s highs and wind gusts near 50 MPH finally parted, just as the local Triple-A team was returning to start an eight-game home stand. This first game being a Friday fireworks night – like catnip for drawing a crowd – that weather was absolutely crucial. The locals responded, as the game is being called a sellout.

The forecasts call for perfect temperatures throughout the eight-game homestand, never a given in the pre-summer months here.

That’s not where the good fortune stopped for this team.

Ryan Wheeler was called up by the Rockies today, taken to replace the injured Josh Rutledge.

Wheeler desperately needed a break this year, but few would have expected it would be this. He was batting just .239 for the Sky Sox with nine RBIs in 23 games. Wheeler has proven himself in the past, with a .501 slugging percentage and 188 RBIs in 233 Triple-A games. He’s the rare player whose stats have improved as he has climbed the minor-league ladder. But that improvement hasn’t extended to the major leagues, where he has largely failed to impress in short stints with the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Without a plus glove, it seemed the 25-year-old Wheeler may be on his way to a reputation as a AAAA hitter – above average for the minors, not cut out for the next level.

His slow start to this season, including obvious frustrations on the last homestand, did not seem likely to help that position.

But now, thanks to a break, Wheeler is back in the bigs. He’ll collect major-league money and live the pampered life for, most likely, at least two weeks. And with that opportunity, you never know how things might turn out. Fortune just might smile on him.