Originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, left-hander Brad Wieck has been a quiet riser through the Padres’ minor league system. After being selected early in the 2014 draft, Wieck was moved directly to short-season ball, where he finished the season with 25 and two-thirds innings pitched in relief. Wieck struck out 39 batters, walked just six, and gave up only four earned runs, good for a 1.40 ERA. Following his solid debut, Wieck began the 2015 season in Low-A for the New York Mets, starting 10 games and throwing 56 total innings. Wieck maintained a solid strikeout to walk ratio during that time, striking out 74 and walking just 21, while maintaining an ERA of 3.21 with a 2.65 FIP. His walk rate was slightly raised while his strikeout rate took a slight dip, but that was to be expected with a transition from reliever to starter at a higher level.
After that solid debut, Wieck suddenly found himself being traded to the San Diego Padres to finish the deal that brought left-handed reliever Alex Torres to New York. Wieck finished the season with two starts in Low-A for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, and 11 starts and 57 innings in High-A ball with the Padres’ affiliate the Lake Elsinore Storm. In those 57 innings in High-A, Wieck struggled mightily, striking out just 53 batters to 26 walks and finding himself with an ERA over five for the first time in his career.
Following those struggles, Wieck would be converted to a reliever full-time. Given his struggles in Elsinore the previous year, Wieck returned to Elsinore, where he threw 41 innings with a 62:16 K-BB ratio. Despite falling flat as a starter, Wieck seemed revitalized as a bullpen arm. Following a midseason promotion to Double-A, Wieck finished the season with a 0.44 ERA in 20 and a third innings in San Antonio. Wieck once again kept up his stellar strikeout rate, striking out over 13 batters per nine innings at both levels in 2016. Although the starting thing didn’t seem to work out, Wieck brought himself back onto the map with his solid relief performance.
Going into 2017, Wieck seemed poised to clear the rest of the minor league ladder on his way to San Diego. However, things didn’t go quite as planned. Despite a solid overall performance over his first 26 and two-thirds innings back in Double-A, with 45 strikeouts to 12 walks and a 2.64 ERA and even better 1.88 FIP, Wieck could not find the same success in his first taste of Triple-A baseball in El Paso.
Wieck was promoted to Triple-A following his June 24 outing. On June 27, Wieck made his first Triple-A outing and gave up one earned run on two hits. After two scoreless outings, Wieck gave up two earned runs in three consecutive appearances. Following that, Wieck gave up just two more earned runs in his last three Triple-A appearances before being sent back down to Double-A to finish the season. All told, Wieck made nine appearances in Triple-A, striking out just eight and giving up eight earned runs in only seven innings of work.
Despite his struggles in Triple-A, Wieck did still show his potential in Double-A for a majority of the season, a fact that bodes well for his long-term outlook. Even with his big frame, Wieck has a very easy, repeatable delivery that has always been mechanically sound. The biggest issue for him moving forward will be being able to complement his solid, mid-90’s fastball with a secondary offering that is enough to get big league hitters out.
2018 Projection and Long-Term Outlook
Coming off his poor end to the 2017 season, Wieck looks to return to form in 2018 in hopes of conquering Triple-A and finally making his way to the big leagues. Given his past performance, I would count on the 26-year-old, six-foot, nine-inch left-hander to do well in Triple-A and find himself in the Padres big league bullpen before the season is over. There’s a chance he could make the team out of spring training, but with the Padres’ current bullpen depth, he appears slated to start the season in Triple-A.
It’s hard to know what to expect from a guy like that, but Wieck appears to have the potential to be a solid LOOGY at worst, and perhaps a high leverage reliever if everything breaks right. Despite most of the Padres’ best prospects being at the lower levels, the Padres do have an embarrassment of riches in terms of upper-level relief pitching. Wieck should join Jose Torres, Kyle McGrath, Phil Maton, and perhaps even Trey Wingenter, Eric Yardley, and others in what is looking like an intimidating Padres’ bullpen in both the short and long-term.