Dodgers select LHP Tom Windle with 56th pick of 2013 MLB Draft + analysis

TomWindle

With the 56th pick of the 2013 MLB Draft, the Dodgers selected left-handed pitcher Tom Windle out of University Of Minnesota.

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Tom Windle was ranked above 56th by most publications, but like I mentioned with the last pick, there’s less depth in this draft after the initial flurry of talent, so the tiers aren’t as defined.

Perhaps most surprising is Logan White going after two college pitchers, especially one that seems to profile as a future back-end reliever. To begin his pro career, though, the team will let him start.

The 21-year-old junior overcame a 2012 left shoulder injury, performed well in the Cape Cod League as a starter and continued to advance this year. He throws three pitches — fastball, slider and changeup — while pitching more to contact.

“We’re going to let him start,” said Logan White, Dodgers vice president of scouting. “He has good size [6-4, 210] and a plus slider. He just needs to be more consistent. If we put him in the bullpen, yeah, he could get here real fast. That’s not our intention. We’ll err on the side of caution, but we’re not afraid to move him or (first-round pick Chris Anderson) to fill in the gaps behind Zach Lee and Chris Reed.”

Doesn’t sound as enthusiastic about him as Chris Anderson, and it might be partially because they’re looking to sign him below slot. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping.

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MLB.com ranked him 32nd.

There are pitchers with arm strength who generate velocity because of arm speed. Then there are those who don’t have an overly quick arm, but just use strength to power through. Windle fits into the latter category.

The Minnesota lefty threw very well in the Cape and was up to 93-94 mph there to go along with a slider and a changeup. He was a Cape League All-Star as a result of his performance.

That continued into his junior year, where he continued to throw strikes and show he has an idea of what he’s doing on the mound. Those kinds of college lefties, even those in cold-climate areas, tend to do well when the Draft rolls around.

Baseball Prospectus ranked him 47th.

With an athletic, repeatable delivery Windle pitches to contact with a polished three-pitch repertoire. He uses his 89-91 fastball, that touches 93 in the early innings and drops to 87-89 in the later frames, to set up his 82-84 mph slider well. He also throws an improving 80-82 mph changeup, maintaining his arm speed, and overall does a nice job inducing weak groundballs off the bats of opposing hitters.

While he doesn’t have the highest ceilings of those available for this year’s draft, he does have one of the highest floors, and is a relatively sure bet to develop as a solid 3-5 starter.

Baseball America had him 47th as well.

He has a strong 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame and a pair of plus pitches in his fastball and slider. He usually works at 90-94 mph with his heater, delivering it on a steep downward plane. His slider is an out pitch in the mid-80s, and he can bury it on the hands of lefties or the back foot of righties. Scouts don’t love Windle’s delivery, which features some stiffness and recoil, and some wonder if he has the third pitch, athleticism and command to be a big league starter. He has improved his arm speed with his changeup and his ability to locate his pitches this year. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter, or of a closer if he winds up in the bullpen.

ESPN (Keith Law) had him ranked 60th.

He’s a fastbal-changeup guy with a fringy slider, and has an arm-heavy delivery that may project him for the bullpen in the long run. His fastball is usually 88-92 without a ton of life, although he throws it for strikes. He throws a soft-breaking, fringy slider at 78-84, and a solid-average changeup at 82-83, but when I saw him he preferred the slider even in changeup situations. Windle stays tall over the rubber with a moderate stride; a short, choppy arm action; and little hip rotation, meaning he’s generating more of his velocity with his arm than with his lower half.

Windle isn’t a projection guy per se, but a 6-foot-4 lefty with a solid-average fastball and chance for two average off-speed pitches is usually a late first-round pick if a team believes he can remain a starter in pro ball.

Minor League Ball‘s Matt Garrioch had him ranked lowest at 65th, and John Sickels had him as the 27th best pitcher.

Here’s a profile from Sickels.

His Cape Cod performance impressed scouts enough that he’s a first round candidate entering the spring of 2013. Windle has a solid southpaw fastball at 90-93 MPH. His slider was his best secondary pitch as a freshman, but his curveball and changeup showed great improvement over the last year. Although his command was problem last spring, he had no troubles throwing strikes on the Cape. If that remains true this spring, he’ll project as a mid-rotation starter.

Windle is an interesting comparison to Ziomek. The Vanderbilt lefty has received more press attention, but Windle’s profile is quite similar: a strong freshman season, followed by some rough patches as a sophomore, then an apparent breakthrough with command in summer ball. Their stuff is comparable and they were born within two weeks of each other. The Minnesotan has a cleaner, more classic delivery, and for that reason Windle ranks slightly ahead on most pre-draft lists.

And here’s a game report.

Tom Windle was a completely different pitcher. His velocity was average to above for a lefty at 88-92. He controlled it well and while he allowed a lot of contact, no one made much solid contact off of him. Yes, Twins fans, he pitched to contact. He just doesn’t have that extra gear that Manaea has.

Windle has a slider that is a 78-82 MPH offering. It is an average pitch that he commanded well. His change is very good. It was in the 80-84 range but was thrown with the same arm speed. It kept hitters very off balance.

He didn’t blow it by hitters like Manaea did. Hitters were able to make contact but most of the time they were weak grounders and rarely amounted to much. For this reason, he is more of a back of the rotation type, not a front line guy like Manaea projects to be. I liked the fact he worked inside and made hitters uneasy. He did hit two batters but not due to lack of control but more that the hitters were sitting on the dish and he wasn’t going to not work his game. I appreciated that.

Physically, he is strongly built and could use his lower half more. His stride is short and he throws more over the top. He uses his shoulder and elbow a lot and due to that and he could have a couple more ticks in him if a team would want to tinker. I’m not a fan of that idea, just saying it’s potentially an option.

Last but not least, here’s a scouting report from Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus.

A durable lefty with a chance for two plus pitches, the largest concerns surrounding the Cape Cod standout revolve around a stiff delivery shy on athleticism and fluidity, which produces sporadic lapses in control and command, as well as an abrupt stop to Windle’s arm action.

His fastball is a low-90s offering that has reached as high as 95 mph late in starts, and he pairs it with a low- to mid-80s slider that, when on, comes on a tough angle with late action and tilt. His changeup vacillates between well below average and solid average, in large part because of his abrupt arm action and choppy finish. Proponents view it as a third average or better pitch, while detractors see it as further evidence that the lefty is destined for the pen.

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Just like Chris Anderson, this was a bit of a surprise for the Dodgers. Everybody assumed the Dodgers would be taking high school pitchers because of Logan White’s track record, but he decided to go with back-to-back college starters. The velocity reports matter in his case, because at 88-91 he needs to be more of a command and control guy — or somebody who goes max effort out of the pen — but at 92-94, he profiles more as a power lefty. Where he eventually ends up on that spectrum will affect his profile and his future, but since he’s a college guy, a lot of the projectability is already gone.

Tom Windle is a college junior, so he has leverage in negotiations, but like with Anderson, there haven’t been any whispers about signability problems. I’m assuming they see him as starter, but they could fast-track him like Paco Rodriguez if they see him in relief, though the pick would make infinitely less sense to me if that were the case.

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