The Houston Astros chose former Turlock High pitcher Vince Wheeland as their first pick in the 24th round in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft (706th overall) out of Oklahoma State, helping to fulfill one of the former Bulldog's long-time dreams.
“It’s first and foremost a great experience and I am hoping to continue to follow my dreams; it’s a huge blessing,” said Wheeland. “My main goal is to get to the professional level and work hard and stay humble and see how it all falls out.”
In his final year this past season at Oklahoma State, the 22-year-old Wheeland finished with a near perfect record at 10-1, a 1.52 ERA in 31 games (three starts), including 45 strikeouts in 83 innings and a .226 average against which was good enough to earn him Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors.
The Turlock native stands at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds and as a junior was named the 2013 All-Big 12 first team relief pitcher after punching in 73 innings of work in 30 appearances.
His 30 appearances were tied for the second most in a single season in school history. He was also tied fifth in the Big 12 with eight wins and sixth with a 1.97 ERA.
Wheeland also ranked in the top 10 in the conference in opponent batting average with a .219 and struck out 64. He was 2-1 with a save and a 0.68 ERA in 11 Big 12 appearances and collected wins against Texas and Kansas State.
“It’s great to see someone succeed like him and be drafted. It’s really a great brand since he works very hard and it’s been a long ways away to see him pitch, everyone is really happy for Vinnie [Wheeland]. He has had a great college career,” said Wheeland’s former high school head coach Mark de la Motte.
In his final year pitching for Turlock High in 2010, he helped coach de la Motte and the Bulldogs reach a 24-8 overall record and the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title game where they eventually lost to the always tough St. Mary’s, 18-4.
Wheeland credits all of his coaches in the Turlock area, along with friends and family, for supporting his talents.
During his senior season at Turlock High, the right-hander not only did work from the mound but was consistent from the plate, racking a batting average of .372 in 110 plate appearances.
On the mound he capped off a great career with a perfect 13-0 record, a 0.74 ERA in 85 innings while racking up 147 strikeouts and walked only 18.
Wheeland earned All-State honors and was named the district, league and team MVP.
“The guy is a winner and he will do whatever he has to to be able to succeed, great attitude and best person all around,” de la Motte said.
The next step for Wheeland to join the Astros Single-A squad in New York, known as the Tri-City ValleyCats where he will begin his journey, to hopefully, the big leagues.
“That’s my main goal; I’m in the minors now, I just need to do all I can to get there, I can’t do much more than that but I will work hard. I can control what I can control and go from there,” Wheeland said.