23. Bobby Wahl, RHP
Height: 6’2”, Weight: 210 lbs.
DOB: 03/21/92 (26)
Acquired: Trade (Oakland Athletics)
34 G (1 GS), 39.2 IP, 17 H, 16 R, 10 ER (2.27 ERA), 17 BB, 65 K, .227 BABIP (Triple-A)
4 G (0 GS), 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER (1.69 ERA), 2 BB, 8 K, .375 BABIP (Triple-A)
Bobby Wahl was a three-sport athlete at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia, playing football, basketball, and baseball. When his high school career began, he started training with former major leaguer Brian Snyder, and by the time he was a senior, Wahl was a fairly successful pitcher. He helped pitch the Spartans into the state championship game and ended up being named the Virginia Class AAA Northern Region Player of the Year. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 39 round of the 2010th MLB Draft but elected not to sign with them, instead honoring his commitment to the University of Mississippi. Elbow tendonitis limited him to the bullpen in his first year at Ole Miss, but he returned to the rotation during his sophomore and junior years, posting a 2.55 and 2.03 ERA in those years, respectively. He was projected by many outlets to be a late first-round selection, but he ended up slipping to the fifth round due to blister issues and rumors of a sore shoulder. He ended up being drafted in the fifth round by the Oakland Athletics, who offered him a $500,000 signing bonus- almost double the recommended slot value. Wahl signed with them and slowly climbed up the Athletics’ minor league ladder, his frontline potential sapped by injury after injury. In 2014, after getting off to a slow start and missing time with an oblique strain, Wahl was moved into the Beloit Snappers’ bullpen mid-season and has been used exclusively in relief ever since.
Oakland added Wahl to their 40-man roster in 2016 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and after making a good impression during Spring Training 2017, finally got the call to the majors. He made his MLB debut in early May, but was hit by the injury bug yet again, landing on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain at the end of the month. He returned to the mound in late July, but began experiencing discomfort during his rehab assignment and was shut down. He ended up being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which he had surgery for, missing the rest of the 2017 season. He returned to the mound in 2018 and pitched well, posting a 2.27 ERA for the Nashville Sounds in 39.2 innings, allowing 17 hits, walking 17, and striking out 65. On July 21, 2018, Wahl was traded, along with Will Toffey to the Mets in exchange for closer Jeurys Familia. He made a handful of appearances with the Las Vegas 51s before being promoted to the major leagues on August 2. As was the case with his major league promotion in 2017, his 2018 stint was short, as he was placed on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury after just 7 appearances, ending his season.
Wahl has a simple, repeatable delivery, throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot. He boasts the prototypical power pitcher’s repertoire, relying primarily on an above-average fastball and slider combination, periodically mixing in a changeup. His fastball ranges from 95-98 MPH, averaging 96 with rising action. His slider features more vertical drop than horizontal depth, and sits in the mid-to-upper-80s. His changeup acts almost like a splitter, sitting in the upper-80s with late drop. His control of all three pitches can waver, and when he is able to command them, a common criticism is that he lives too much in the strike zone and leaves too many pitches in the zone.
Steve Sypa says:
The constant injuries, while not chronic, have sapped a lot of his value over the years, but when he is healthy and has his pitches working, Wahl should be a solid major league bullpen piece. His upside isn’t high enough to be an exciting return for Jeurys Familia per se, but he is a safe bet to be a low-risk, moderate-ceiling player.
Lukas Vlahos says:
Wahl’s 2018 debut was disastrous, there’s no other way to put it. A .438 BABIP, 6.75 BB/9, and 22.2% HR/FB ratio will do that to you. All of those numbers are due for some regression, however, and Wahl’s minor league numbers are significantly more encouraging. He’ll never be as good as the player he was traded for, but he’s another useful shuttle arm for the back-end of the Mets bullpen.
Kenneth Lavin says:
After coming over to the Mets as part of the Jeurys Familia trade with the Athletics last season, Wahl struggled to stay healthy and on the field. He threw just ten innings after entering the Mets organization, including a disastrous 5.2 innings for the big league team. He would end his stint in Queens with a 10.13 ERA and 7.66 FIP, having struck out 7 batters and allowed entirely too many baserunners. He’s already got one career threatening injury under his belt, having had successfully returned to action after having Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery in August 2017. When healthy, Wahl has a pretty effective repertoire, pairing an above-average fastball that sits in the 95-98 MPH range with both a hard 88-90 MPH cutter and a softer 83-86 MPH slider. Even with his command and health issues, Wahl is a decent bet to contribute to the big league bullpen at some point in the 2019 season.