Zack Wheeler, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, was reprimanded last weekend along with teammate Aderlin Rodriguez for an on-field incident that led to ethnic tensions in the Mets’ minor league clubhouse, according to organizational sources.
In a minor league intrasquad game last Saturday, Rodriguez, a 21-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic, homered against Wheeler, 22, and “pimped it” around the bases, as one witness described it. Rodriguez apologized to Wheeler, but the phenom still hit Rodriguez’s teammate with a pitch later in the game. That drew a long glare from Rodriguez, who shouted at Wheeler during a slow walk to first base. At one point, the home plate umpire stepped between the two prospects.
Later, ethnic tensions arose in the clubhouse, according to two people present at the time. “Some of the American guys and some of the Latin guys were circling and yelling at each other,” one source said. The same source added that Wheeler and Rodriguez “are both great kids, competitors, and this stuff just happens sometimes.”
Mets brass reprimanded both players, and the team considers the issue closed. Vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta acknowledged the incident, and said, “We’ve talked to everybody involved, and I think at this point it’s done with.”