Prior to the last home game of the regular season for the Tulsa Drillers, I had the chance to sit down and talk with pitching prospect Daniel Winkler, who was promoted to Double-A after going 12-5 with a 2.97 ERA for Class A Modesto (Calif.). Thus far in Tulsa, he has posted a 1-1 mark with a 3.48 ERA in four starts.
Henry: What was your reaction when they told you were coming to Tulsa?
Winkler: I was excited and kind of surprised. I wasn't having that good of a month when I got the call-up, so it was a little bit of a surprise. When I came here, it really felt like a rebirth for me. I needed the change of scenery and I was excited to come to this ballpark. I knew some of the guys already from Modesto and spring training and this is a great group of guys who has welcomed me with open arms.
Henry: Describe your pitching style to someone who has never seen you throw.
Winkler: I would call it funky (laughing). I thrive on deception. I don't throw anything straight. Everything I throw sinks or cuts. I don't want to try to pick at the corners too much. I want to attack the zone and make the hitter beat me.
Henry: Your pitching motion has been described as "funky" as well.
Winkler: (Laughing) Yeah, it has. I never thought anything about it until I got to (The University of) Central Florida and everyone asked how I threw like that. My whole life, I have thrown the same way. I think if I tried to change the way I throw, I'd hurt myself.
Henry: How long did it take you to get used to pitching at ONEOK Field versus Modesto?
Winkler: There's no different mindset for me. I want to go out there and throw strikes and attack the strike zone. I keep the same mindset no matter where I am pitching or on what level I am pitching. I have to make sure the batters don't get to their count so I come out and attack.
Henry: Talk about facing Double-A hitters versus those in Class A.
Winkler: It's all relevant to me. The hitters are the same and my approach doesn't deviate.
Henry: What is your mindset as Tulsa prepares for the playoffs?
Winkler: It's really business as usual. We all have to go into it with a good mindset. If you hit, pitch, and play defense, good things can happen.
Henry: What goals do you have for yourself in the near- and long-term?
Winkler: I think goals are very important for my career. Long-term, I want to be in the Rockies' big-league camp next spring and in the big leagues next season. For now, I am going to take things game-by-game and help this team win a Texas League championship.