Zander Wiel Feeling Right at Home with Lookouts
Zander Wiel is a name that many Tennessee natives are familiar with, and for good reason. Wiel is a product of Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a town that happens to be dead center of the state. His father played basketball at North Carolina and eventually coached the game at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro. While the younger Wiel was a great basketball player in his own right, he was even more talented on the diamond. Just how talented? The 6’3 power hitter earned himself a roster spot with Vanderbilt, one of the biggest power house baseball programs in the nation.
After winning a National Championship ring in 2014 with the Vandy Boys and a wildly successful college campaign in 2015, Wiel hit yet another milestone in his baseball career. The Minnesota Twins took note of what had been going on in Nashville and made Wiel their 12th round pick in the 2015 first year player draft.
Tennessee to Minnesota, there is some distance there, but the story just keeps getting better. There is a hidden gem in Northeast Tennessee where the Appalachian League brings professional baseball to the mountains. After being drafted, Wiel began his pro career right back in his home state as a member of the Elizabethton Twins who make their home in… you guessed it, Elizabethton, TN.
Wiel has been on a steady progression through the Twins system and after stops in Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers, has found himself back in Tennessee, this time with Double-A Chattanooga, and he is feeling right at home.
The right handed power bat has been one of the best offensive producers through the first month of the Southern League season. Wiel is slashing .365/.452/.587 with an OPS of 1.039. While the numbers are a product of one month of play, he has 70 plate appearances heading into action on Saturday, not the smallest sample size in the world.
Of Wiel’s 23 hits, 10 have gone for extra bases with eight of them being doubles and two being homers. His .587 slugging percentage is good enough for seventh on the Southern League leader board and only one player above him in that category has struck out fewer times.
Zander Wiel is no doubt off to a hot start and he certainly is a fan favorite in Chattanooga. While the fans there would love for him to stick around and keep mashing, they are rooting for him to get out of Tennessee, maybe make a quick stop in Rochester, and find a new home in Minnesota. Tennessee will always be here after he makes a name for himself up north.
Featured Image Courtesy of: David Conde