July 27, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
Wheeler on Being Called Up
Former Lion Ryan Wheeler (2007-08-09) made his Major League debut and first career start for the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 20. Wheeler, who earned the start at third base against the Houston Astros, posted his first Major League hit in his fourth at bat of his debut - a single into centerfield off of Rhiner Cruz. Wheeler, the 28th former Lion to make the Major Leagues, joins Angels left-hander CJ Wilson as former Lions who have seen time in the Major Leagues this year.
For a list of former Lions who are currently playing professional baseball, please CLICK HERE.
Prior to making his MLB debut, Wheeler was thriving with Triple-A Reno where he was hitting .351 with 27 doubles, and 15 home runs. His 90 RBI were leading the minors before the call up. The native of Torrance, Calif., who was tabbed the ninth-best prospect in the Arizona organization to start the year, was named the 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League Position Player of the Year in his first professional season.
"Ryan is the epitome of what we are looking for in a student-athlete for our baseball program," LMU baseball head coach Jason Gill said. "Not only did he excel on the field, but he also worked extremely hard in the classroom, and is on track to graduating this fall after continuing to take classes after starting his professional career. Ryan's work ethic is unparalleled, and he has earned every bit of praise and the accomplishments that he has received throughout his professional career. Our program couldn't be happier to be represented by Ryan, and we look forward to his future successes."
Before being drafted, Wheeler, a 2009 Wallace Watch List player and an All-WCC selection, finished his junior year at LMU as the team-leader in doubles with 20 and hit-by-pitches with 12. His .547 slugging percentage, .427 on base percentage, 48 RBI, 74 hits, 61 runs scored, three triples, nine home runs, 33 walks, 127 total bases and five stolen bases all ranked second on the team.
While embarking on a Major League career may make it tougher to come back to LMU in the fall to finish classes, Wheeler has been steadfast in his pursuit of a college degree. The 2009 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection has returned to campus and worked with professors to develop a schedule of classes that work toward his degree after every season since being selected by Arizona in the fifth round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
According to MLB.com's Tyler Emerick, Wheeler's work ethic and effort has also caught the eye of manager Kirk Gibson.
"He's been working his tail off," Gibson said. "You want to make some little adjustments early on because I don't think you just throw him to wolves. He's done a lot of work and he's ready to play."
Now that he is ready to play, Wheeler also looks primed to see more starts in the near future at the hot corner for Arizona. In a move that should free-up more time for the 24-year-old Wheeler, the Diamondbacks traded away Ryan Roberts to Tampa Bay just four days after the call up. Wheeler, who has recorded a pair of singles in 12 Major League at bats, will next take the field today against the New York Mets at 6:40 p.m.
- GO LIONS -