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Zack Wheeler looks sharp in minor league outing

Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during a spring

Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during a spring training workout at Tradition Field. (February 15, 2013) Credit: Alejandra Villa

MIAMI -- Top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler took a step forward yesterday while turning in perhaps his best performance of the season for Triple-A Las Vegas. In a 10-2 victory over Reno, the righthander allowed just one run in 62/3 innings.

Wheeler's early season struggles have centered on his inconsistent command, particularly with his fastball. But against Reno, Wheeler racked up eight strikeouts with just one walk.

"Yeah, [definitely] made some adjustments and felt good," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said mechanical adjustments -- primarily keeping his shoulders more square in his delivery -- accounted for his improved results.

Nevertheless, it appears that the 22-year-old has more work to do if he intends to convince the Mets of his readiness for his first big league call up.

The Mets have endured inconsistency in the back end of the starting rotation, which has led to speculation about the team's willingness to call up Wheeler early in the season. Thus far, his command issues have made the decision easy.

However, even if Tuesday's start proves to be a turning point, it appears that the Mets want to see more than just a few isolated instances of progress. According to a person familiar with the team's thinking, the soonest Wheeler could be called up would be a month, assuming that he continues to show improvement with his command over that span.

Waiting about a month also coincides with the projected cutoff for players to earn an extra season of arbitration -- or "Super Two" status.

Wheeler is 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA in six starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. In 231/3 innings, Wheeler has struck out 28 while walking 15.

Harvey keeps Sunday turn

The Mets weighed shuffling their rotation this weekend to give Matt Harvey even more extra rest following his career-high 121 pitches on Monday night. But the righthander will remain on turn to pitch on Sunday against Atlanta, a start that already comes with an extra day's rest thanks to the Mets' day off on Thursday.

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