Ryan Wheeler, a corner infielder on a minor league contract this spring, is not as well-known or well-compensated as his more famous and accomplished Angels teammates, but he shares their entrepreneurial spirit.
Wheeler, a Torrance High School graduate, teamed with a college friend from Loyola Marymount to develop a powdered rehydration solution called Liquid I.V., which is now available in eight Southern California Whole Foods stores, dozens of other shops and gyms in the region and in the Angels clubhouse.
“My buddy had a dream to do this,” Wheeler, 26, said. “He came to me and asked what athletes are drinking. I said Pedialyte. He goes, ‘We party a lot, so we created this drink, and we know our friends drink Pedialyte, so let’s try to do something.’ ”
Wheeler, who was claimed off waivers from Colorado in September, said his friend worked with a beverage chemist to create the product, which was brought to Dodger Stadium when Wheeler was playing for the Rockies in 2013.
“I thought it was pretty good,” said Wheeler, who hit .326 with two homers and 15 runs batted in in 25 games for triple-A Salt Lake in September but has been slowed this spring by a left quadriceps injury. “And we went from there.”
Wheeler made a significant investment in the company, and he and his partners were among the final cuts for “Shark Tank,” a reality show in which entrepreneurs pitch their products to a panel of famous investors.
“I haven’t made my money back yet,” Wheeler said, “but with drinks, I’m learning it’s a three- to five-year thing.”