Left-handed pitcher Tom Windle joined a new organization and was among a group of well-touted pitching prospects on the Double-A Reading Fightins pitching staff last year.
Part of the return from the Dodgers in the swap for Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins, along with right-handed pitcher Zach Eflin, Windle is a promising hurler with tools that scouts have long been high on.
A 2nd round pick in 2013 (56th overall), the Minnesota native debuted in the minors the same year with Class A Great Lakes. In 13 games (12 starts), Windle posted a 5-1 record with a 2.68 ERA while striking out 51 and walking 20 in 53 2/3 innings. His excellent initial pro effort followed a strong junior campaign at the University of Minnesota that year which saw the youngster sport a 6-4 record, a 2.14 ERA with a .208 batting average against and 86 strike outs in 92 2/3 innings in 14 games.
With Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamongo in 2014, the six-foot-four 215-pounder tallied a 12-8 record with a 4.26 ERA while striking out 111 and walking 44 in 139 1/3 innings over 26 games (25 starts).
In 2015 with Reading, midway through the season, Windle was moved to the bullpen after posting a 2-5 record with a 5.35 ERA while experiencing control issues (43 strike outs, 40 walks in 70 2/3 innings) in 14 starts. The switch proved advantageous, as the 23-year-old would go 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA while striking out 21 and walking 11 in 26 2/3 relief innings for the Fightins.
Late in the season last year, Windle remained hopeful that he could get back to starting at some point. If his results out of the bullpen are any indication, it would be wise for the Phillies to utilize the youngster where he is most effective and the teams seems locked into that plan for the foreseeable future.
Fastball command will be the major determining factor in how far Windle can go, as the jump in walk rate (4.7 per nine innings in the 2015 regular season, up from 2.8 in 2014) was alarming.
With Glendale in the prominent Arizona Fall League this off-season, Windle allowed just two earned runs while striking out seven and walking four in 10 1/3 innings.
The six-foot-four 215-pounder relies mainly on his fastball-slider combination, but mixes in an occasional third offering, a change up that could likely be fazed out completely in time. With good arm speed, he throws both four-seam and two-seam fastballs. Windle’s velocity readings often peak at 94 or 95 MPH, but can touch higher.
Windle looked up to reliever Glen Perkins, a fellow Minnesota native and three-time All-Star closer, prior to turning pro. Following the veteran’s path to the big show would be something Windle can strive for.
I would expect Windle to see some more time at the Double-A level in 2016, but if his role stays the same and he displays great levels of comfort with the job, as he did last season, it won’t be too long before he’s given a shot at late innings in Triple-A.
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