Wieland rides to the Pelicans' second Pitcher of the Week award of 2011, following teammate Robbie Erlin's nod last week, on the strength of a jaw-dropping performance at Potomac on May 4. Over the course of six shutout innings, Wieland allowed two infield hits and no runs while not walking a man and striking out 13 Nationals batters. His 13 Ks came one shy of tying the franchise record, set by Kyle Davies at Kinston on June 12, 2004 and matched last May 31 at Frederick by phenom Julio Teheran, and equaled the Pelicans' only other 13-strikeout performance, that of Tommy Hanson on April 4, 2008 at Wilmington. Impressively enough, Joe's performance against Potomac wasn't even a career best. The righty struck out 14 last August third against Visalia while a member of the Bakersfield Blaze, last year's Class A Advanced affiliate of the Rangers.
The Nationals' two hits against Wieland were almost not so. in the bottom of the fifth inning, J.P. Ramirez hit a sky-high pop on the infield that neither third baseman Mike Olt nor catcher Vinny DiFazio could see in the twilight evening. Wieland made an attempt at the play but overpursued and lost the ball behind him. It fell no more than 15 feet from home plate but went as a one-out double for Ramirez. One inning later, Eury Perez swung at a pitch that bounced in the dirt in front of him and hit a high chopper out to second base where Pelicans infielder Santiago Chirino couldn't field it cleanly for an infield single. Other than Perez having been hit by a pitch leading off in the first inning, not a single other baserunner reached against Wieland in his six innings of work.
Drafted out of high school by the Rangers in the fourth round in 2008, the Reno, Nevada native Wieland has pitched at three different levels in the Texas system. This year, he entered his third full professional season ranked as the 22nd-best overall Rangers prospect according to Baseball America, a publication that praises his makeup and composure on the mound saying, "He's polished for his age, with the ability to add and subtract velocity, to sink his fastball or elevate it, to pitch in or work away."
As the Pelicans open a six-game homestand against the Kinston Indians and Lynchburg Hillcats with Wieland on the mound Wednesday night, the 21-year-old ranks second in the Carolina League in strikeouts (41), second in fewest walks per nine innings pitched among starters (0.60), third in highest strikeouts per nine innings pitched among starters (11.70), fourth in fewest baserunners per nine innings pitched among starters (9.30), and sixth in ERA (2.03).
Wieland takes on left-hander T.J. House Tuesday night at BB&T Coastal Field as the Pelicans (18-12) kick off a three-game set with the Tribe (13-16). The Pelicans are coming off their first off-day since April 11 following a 3-4 road trip that saw them slip to three games back of the Salem Red Sox in the Southern Division. Tickets for all Pelicans home games can be purchased by visiting the BB&T Coastal Field Box office, the Tickets page at MyrtleBeachPelicans.com, or by calling (843)918-6000 or (877)918-TIXX.