FORT WAYNE – Matt Wisler had a tough decision to make last year.
The recent Bryan (Ohio) High School graduate could have headed to Ohio State. Or he could begin his professional baseball career.
Wisler wanted to chat with a couple of people who were familiar with the situation. So he made a trip to Parkview Field and met Fort Wayne pitcher Keyvius Sampson and then-outfielder Jose Dore.
Sampson and Dore were both drafted out of high school. And both decided to embark on a pro career.
Keyvius was the main one for me, just knowing what a pitchers life was like, Wisler said last week. The everyday grind. He said exactly what I wanted to hear, like, It wasnt as bad as you think. Its still a grind, but its a lot of fun along the way.
Ive loved it so far.
In a coincidence, San Diego selected Wisler in the seventh round of the 2011 draft.
He decided to become a pro and has become one of the top starting pitchers for the TinCaps this season. Wisler has a 3-4 record and is sixth in the Midwest League with a 2.42 ERA.
Im very pleased with what hes done so far. It seems like hes gotten better and better as the season has gone along, TinCaps pitching coach Willie Blair said. A lot of that has to do with his work ethic. Hes a smart kid. He listens to everything, tries to apply everything.
Probably just as important, if not more important, hes blessed with great ability.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander is tied for second in the league in WHIP (1.04) and is tied for 16th in strikeouts (71). He has walked just 21 batters in his 78 innings, and opponents are hitting just .217 against Wisler.
To me, hes been as consistent as anybody we have had, Blair said. Hes consistently down in the zone.
Wisler, 19, features a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.
He got off to a slow start, going 0-3 with a 4.12 ERA in April. But Wisler adjusted once the calendar turned to May. And he hasnt looked back.
Wisler had a 2.08 ERA in May, giving up six earned runs in five starts (26 innings). He had a 2.25 ERA in June.
In two starts so far in July, Wisler has a 0.73 ERA after giving up just one earned run in 12 1/3 innings. He has 12 strikeouts and two walks.
Having command of all my pitches has been real key, Wisler said. Just having a good feel for all my pitches so far.
I struggled early, but I got it together. Just trusting my stuff, trusting my defense and also trusting both the catchers (Austin Hedges and Matt Colantonio) has really helped.
Wisler has allowed one or no earned runs in six of his last seven starts.
Every game, it seems like hes been able to have at least three of those pitches, Blair said. I cant say enough good things. Hes a great prospect, has a great future. Hes a great kid.