Colorado Rockies prospect Jack Wynkoop is not a power pitcher. He’ll often top out in the high-80s, but what makes him interesting is his ability to mix his four pitches—a fastball, a changeup, a curveball and a slider—and hit targets well.
"I think that location is a huge part of what I’m trying to do when I’m out there," Wynkoop said. "I’m not scared of contact so I’m trying to pitch to contact in the locations I need to hit and let my defense work, and the defense played great behind me, and I’m certainly thankful for the way they’ve been playing for me lately."
Wynkoop was drafted in the sixth round in 2015 from the University of South Carolina. Currently with the Rockies’ High-A affiliate in Modesto, Calif., he had an above average August with a 1.03 ERA in 35 innings pitched. He has an ability to keep pitch counts low because, as he said, he’s not scared of contact.
In the California League, however, there are parks where fly balls hit off the bat can easily turn into home runs. Wynkoop said that he only worries about fly balls in certain parks.
"I usually try and get groundouts," Wynkoop said. "Sometimes if I’m a tick up in the zone and they can get the ball in the air, you’ve got to give their hitters some respect. They’re aggressive and they are up there swinging the bat. Definitely trust my defense when I’m out there, and they’re doing a great job, so I’m going to keep letting them hit the ball to them."
Wynkoop has a fairly fluid delivery. His front leg is straight and planted firmly on the ground. His glove hand and throwing arm start behind his head and goes over his head as he sets up to throw the ball. The back leg plants smoothly in front of him as he finishes throwing a pitch.
His arm slot is a bit funky—it changes with every pitch type thrown. He’ll throw mostly overhand when he throws a fastball, but it dips down to his side when he throws a slider. Wynkoop said that’s more of a subconscious thing for him.
"It’s not something I want to get in the habit of doing," Wynkoop said of his arm slot locations. "Sometimes out of the stretch it’ll drop down a little bit, sometimes with lefties it’ll drop down a little bit, and I think that’s just a habit that I’m trying to work my way out of."
Wynkoop says that one of the things that he’s been working on this season between different levels is throwing with consistency.
"Since the beginning of the season I’ve worked on a few different components of my delivery that I feel help make me more repeatable and more consistent in what I’m doing," Wynkoop said. "Through the Rockies coaches, I’ve been able to get to a point where I have a decent feel for all my pitches right now and that’s what I’m trying to keep focusing on is making pitches."
With the Cal League season coming to a close after Labor Day, Wynkoop says he has plans for the offseason.
"I wanna get a lot stronger in the offseason," Wynkoop said. "The Rockies put us in a great position to do that. It’s my second one so I’ll have a little bit more experience knowing what I can do and how to go about it so I’m excited, hopefully it’s a really productive offseason."