Tom Windle, LHP, University of Minnesota
Height/Weight 6-4 210
Birthdate: March 10, 1992 Age at Draft: 21.2
Yesterday we looked at Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek. Today we will examine another college lefty with designs on the first round, University of Minnesota left-hander Tom Windle.
Windle was known to scouts as a high school pitcher in Osseo, Minnesota, but most felt he was best-suited to develop in college and he slipped to the 28th round of the 2010 draft. As expected, he passed up signing for the Chicago White Sox and became a Minnesota Gopher. He was used primarily as a reliever as a freshman in 2011 with good success: a 1.52 ERA with a 35/11 K/BB in 41 innings with 35 hits allowed. He followed up with a decent summer season for the Madison Mallards in the Northwoods League, throwing 52 innings with a 4.30 ERA but with a promising 60/20 K/B B ratio.
Windle started four games for the Gophers in 2012 but still saw most of his action in the bullpen, relieving in 14 contests. His ERA rose to 3.27 thanks to some command issues: he posted a 37/17 K/BB in 41 innings with 36 hits allowed, his BB/9 ratio rising from 2.40 in '11 to 3.70 last year. Despite the weaker numbers, scouts noticed that his velocity kicked up a notch. He looked very good in the Cape Cod League, showing greatly improved command, posting a 47/7 K/BB in 38 innings for the Brewster Whitecaps, with a 2.35 ERA.
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.
As with Ziomek, there are a few questions to answer: how will Windle handle the transition to full-time starter? Will he maintain the command he showed last summer? Current buzz has Windle as a mid-to-late first round candidate, which seems very appropriate to me.