By Jerry Del Priore
The St. Paul Saints of the independent American Association Baseball League inked former right-handed Brooklyn Cyclone and New York Mets reliever Beck Wheeler to a contract for the 2018 season, the team announced last week.
Wheeler spent 2017 with the Las Vegas 51s, the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Mets, where he went 4-5 and fanned 51 batters while walking 35 in 58.1 innings of work.
The San Diego, California-born, UC Santa Barbara graduate started out as a position player in college and began post-high school career at the University of Pacific and then transferred to the Orange Coast College.
New York converted Wheeler to fulltime reliever at the pro ranks. He had just eight college games under his belt as a pitcher before the switch.
In his first professional season on the mound with the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Mets, Wheeler, who signed as free agent in 2011, went 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA and two saves in 20.1 innings in 14 relief outings that same year.
Wheeler posted a 1-1 mark with a 5.14 ERA while striking out 37 hitters in 28.0 frames in 25 contests with the Cyclones in 2012.
The 29-year-old hurler spent his entire six-year pro baseball career with the Mets, going 18-20 with a 4.89 ERA across 313 frames in 246 appearances. Wheeler whiffed 376 batters and opponents hit just .237 against him.
Wheeler isn’t a stranger to overcoming adversity, as a boating accident at the age of 18 left him with deep lacerations on both legs and his left hamstring was severed, forcing doctors to surgically reattach the muscles.
Doctors said that Wheeler might not ever walk again, let alone pitch, but he did both.
The Saints commence the ‘18 campaign on the road versus the Gary SouthShore Railcats on Friday, May 18. St. Pauls’ first home game is on Monday, May 21 against the newest member of the American Association, the Chicago Dogs, at 3:05 p.m.