Get To Know a Call-Up: Dan Winkler

RHP Dan Winkler. (Kathy Kmonicek/AP Photo)

The Player

Dan Winkler, RHP
Age: 27
2017 Level: AAA Gwinnett (rehab assignment)

The Results

5.14 ERA, 4.06 FIP
14 G, 0 GS
14 IP
2.57 BB/9
9.00 SO/9
(rehab assignments at class A, A+, and AAA)

The History

Dan Winkler collapses after breaking his right elbow throwing a pitch on April 10, 2016. (John Amis/AP Photo)

Winkler was a 20th-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in the 2011 draft, and started getting some prospect attention when he struck out 152 hitters in 130.1 IP and maintained a 2.97 ERA in the hitter-friendly high-A California League in 2013, and ended up leading all minor leaguers with 175 strikeouts. He maintained his success in AA Tulsa until he went down with a torn ulner collateral ligament in the middle of what had been a dominant 2014 campaign.

Looking to bring in talent anyway they could at the start of the current rebuild, the Braves selected Winkler in the Rule V draft after the season, knowing he could be stashed on the 60-day DL to lower the usual requirement to maintain the player on the 25-man roster all season to only 90 days. Winkler was activated in September 2015 and pitched in two games. In spring training, Winkler won a spot in the 2016 Opening Day bullpen. Unfortunately, after getting seven outs over two games without giving up a run, Winkler went down again with a ghastly injury, this time breaking his elbow while throwing a pitch. That injury kept him off the mound until mid-June of this year, when he started climbing the organizational ladder on rehab assignment.

The Report

Winkler’s not going to light up radar guns, but creates problems for hitters with a deceptive delivery that can come in at multiple angles. He has good control of a fastball that sits around 89 but can touch 92. He follows that up with a good slider that he can use effectively against lefties inside, an unusual look. He also has a cutter that he can use like a change-up when he wants to present another look.

What’s Next

Winkler has six weeks to play himself into Atlanta’s 2018 bullpen picture. Amazingly, he still has to stay on the 25-man roster for 55 days to clear his Rule V restriction; with his accumulated service time while on the DL, he’ll actually be arbitration-eligible after this season. It’s a very unusual roster issue, and our friends at Walk-Off Walk have already written extensively about it.

Regardless, it’s been a long, tough road back for Winkler, and making it back to the majors after all he’s been through has been an impressive comeback.

To put things in perspective, the Braves starting line-up the day Winkler threw his last big league pitch included Erick Aybar, Hector Olivera, Drew Stubbs, and Williams Perez.

About Andy Harris 100 Articles
Andy Harris has been a baseball fan since seeing the Big Red Machine in 1978 and hardcore baseball fan since reading Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstract in 1990. Andy moved to the Atlanta area in 1991, which turned out to be a pretty good year for the local team.

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