Trey Wingenter Dominates In Double-A Bullpen
Trey Wingenter had already shot past 6-foot-2 as a rising senior when he showed up at camp for a summer travel team looking to catch or play first base. It didn’t take long for Atlanta Blue Jays pitching coach Steve Loureiro to lure Wingenter to a more suitable spot on the diamond: the mound.
"That,” Wingenter said, "changed my life.” The Huntsville, Ala., native began reaching 90 mph after receiving his first real instruction under Loureiro. The righthander threw three no-hitters his senior year at Jones High, and then added a few more inches to his frame and ticks to his fastball at Auburn. Wingenter was pitching at 95 mph when the Padres selected him in the 17th round in in 2015.
Today, the 23-year-old—a reliever at Double-A San Antonio in 2017—stands 6-foot-7 and touches 100 mph.
The latest jump in velocity arrived after an actual offseason.
"My arm was hanging a little bit going into (my pro debut in 2015),” Wingenter said. "Then finally after that first year, after (instructional league), I got to put the ball down and not throw for the first time in four years. I think that let everything heal up. I worked with some good people in the offseason on strength and conditioning and getting my body to work in its best fashion.
"When I came back in spring training (in 2016), my arm felt great for the first time in years, and my velocity starting going up.”
Discovering an effective slider was the final piece for Wingenter as he settled into the Missions’ bullpen. Armed with a grip lifted from Charles Nading, a San Antonio teammate until his July release, Wingenter pushed his strikeout rate to a career-best 12.1 per nine innings in 2017 while fashioning a 2.45 ERA, 20 saves and career-low .193 opponent average over 47.2 innings.
"(The velocity) helps, but the thing that’s improved throughout the year is his slider,” San Antonio manager Phillip Wellman said. "Sometimes it’s just absolutely unfair when he throws a 99-100 (mph) fastball and comes back with an 0-2 slider. He’s made a lot of hitters look bad.”
Up next: Triple-A hitters—if not major league hitters.