Zack Wheeler's Triple-A debut showed that no matter how highly you're regarded as a prospect, there's always something you can work on.
The Mets' No. 1 prospect struck out seven and allowed two runs on three hits over 4 2/3 innings as Buffalo lost to Syracuse, 5-4, on Monday.
Wheeler ran into some trouble in the fifth inning, giving up a leadoff single to Brett Carroll. Following a sacrifice bunt by Zach Duke, Wheeler walked Eury Perez and hit Jarrett Hoffpauir to load the bases with one out. Corey Brown delivered the Chiefs' first run with a sacrifice fly and Carlos Rivero ended Wheeler's night with an RBI single.
"I was able to get my offspeed pitches over for strikes," Wheeler said. "I struggled with the first batter of the game, I had to settle down and get those jitters out. I didn't have many, but you always have some when you do something new. I felt good with my curveball."
Wheeler was promoted to the International League after going 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 19 starts for Double-A Binghamton. The Georgia native was originally slated to start Sunday, but the game was rained out.
"We had a six-man rotation in Double-A, so I'm used to taking that extra day. It didn't bother me," Wheeler said. "It was basically just like any other game. I just had new people around me, it was fun."
Wheeler issued four walks and threw 101 pitches in less than five innings of work. The 22-year-old right-hander understands what the problem was with his outing.
"It's just going out of the stretch, thinking I have to be faster," Wheeler said. "I'm fast to the plate, but it's just out of the stretch, I rush and have a problem staying back. Whenever I rush to the plate, the arm slot is high and that's what happens. It's easy to fix, but it's something you have to work and work on."
Justin Hampson followed Wheeler and allowed a run on one hit over a third of an inning. Scott Patterson (0-1) took the loss after giving up two runs on three hits in the sixth.
Josh Rodriguez and Lucas Duda contributed a solo homer apiece for the Bisons.
Perez, the Nationals' No. 5 prospect was 2-for-3 with two runs scored for the Chiefs.
Zach Duke became the first 12-game winner in the International League after yielding three runs on five hits while fanning eight over six innings for Syracuse.