Drillers' Tim Wheeler Nearing Home Run Record

Friday, July 22nd 2011, 8:28 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, Oklahoma – Tim Wheeler was never really considered a power threat growing up. He hit a few home runs in college, but nothing like this.

The Texas League home run leader (28) is closing in on the modern day record for the most home runs hit in a season in Tulsa pro baseball history.

"I don't even know what the record is," said the Rockies' 2009 first round draft pick. "I think paying attention to those kinds of things kind of hurts you in the long run."

Wheeler trails Kevin Buckley and Bubba Smith by four home runs. Buckley hit 32 long balls in 1983 and Smith tied that record in 1996. With 44 games remaining in the regular season, Wheeler could blow right by them.

"I'm just trying to stay consistent with the approach I've had thus far," he said. "This year, I think being able to repeat my swing more often has produced more home runs. Going forward, I don't know if it will be like this every year, but I think I have the potential to hit some home runs."

Wheeler didn't show much power at the plate in his first full year of pro baseball. He spent last season with the Modesto Nuts and hit just .249 with a dozen homers. He's improved on those numbers drastically with the Double-A Drillers in 30 fewer games.

Entering the weekend series with the Arkansas Travelers, Wheeler not only leads the league in home runs and RBIs (76), but he is hitting .310 and is tied for ninth in the Texas League with 22 doubles.

His offensive outburst this season is helping Tulsa make a push for the postseason.

"The potential is to win the Texas League championship," Wheeler said. "We've got all the right players, pitching and hitting to do it. It's just about coming together to do it."

The Drillers, Travelers and Northwest Arkansas Naturals are currently tied for first place in the second half of the season with 13-13 records.