By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA
You won’t find Zander Wiel‘s name anywhere on most lists of top prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization.
He’s not on MLB.com’s top 30, and he doesn’t appear on fangraphs top 41.
But you will find Wiel among the players with the most productive offensive seasons for the Rochester Red Wings in the Twins era, and in select categories for in the past 60-plus years of franchise history.
The fifth-year pro hit his 24th home run on Friday night in a 6-1 win over the Syracuse Mets in front of 10,118 at Frontier Field.
That gave him 68 extra-base hits (39 doubles, 5 triples), most for any player in the 17 years the Twins have been the parent team. That’s also the most since slugger Jim Fuller had 69 in 1973.
His 39 doubles are the most by a Wings player since 1952, when Don Richmond finished with 40, and his 84 runs are most by a Wings player in the Twins era. He leads the International League in doubles and extra-base hits.
Not bad for a guy who doesn’t make the prospect list.
“I think as a player you always look back and think you could have done more,” Wiel said. “When you look at the numbers, you always think you left a little on the table (he has struck out 153 times). I definitely feel that way, but also there are some positives.”
The positives actually seem numerous. And the team may think that too, considering they were 20-33 on June 3 and now are 69-68.
On Friday night, the start of the final series of the season, the Wings used six pitchers to hold the Mets to one run and seven hits. Brandon Barnes drove in two more runs, giving him 17 RBI in his 23 games with the Wings.
Syracuse entered the night tied for first with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the IL North lead.
“If we spoil someone’s party,” Wiel said, “well, that’s just us wanting to win every game. We still want to win every game.”