One name that’s been long linked to the Braves in this draft process is California prep pitcher Cole Winn. I’ve included the right hander in every mock draft update I’ve written, as another Braves target taken elsewhere for weeks.
However I never truly believed that Winn was a serious candidate. I believed the Braves were interested in Winn, but I would have put him on the “B” list of targets- the same spot where Kumar Rocker has landed recently as a guy they like, but not a guy I saw them picking at eight.
Then came yesterday. First came the Keith Law mock draft where Winn was picked by the Giants at second overall. This was enough to make me want to take another look at him as I liked him, but didn’t quite see him as 2nd overall player in the draft elite. But then before I had a chance to even review Winn again I received a phone call, and was tipped off to a sign that the Braves are much more interested in Winn than I had even imagined.
So what is Cole Winn exactly?
Cole Winn is a 6’2“, 195 pound right handed pitcher. He’s a Colorado native who transferred to a Southern California private school and sports powerhouse in Orange Lutheran High School. The athletic, somewhat projectable pitcher is committed to play for Mississippi State if he doesn’t sign. He’s also a kid with a great makeup, as he’s considered to be a smart kid who loves the game and his decision to transfer to face the best competition in the country can’t be overlooked. While Winn is going to be drafted as a pitcher for sure, he’s also been very productive with the bat in high school to the point he could be a two way player if he was going to school.
Winn’s fastball is in the 93-94 range up to 96 and a pitch that’s got some downhill plane on it. The pitch gets a plus grade from me, but it’s merely a plus grade rather than a potentially plus plus. That’s fine when he’s able to command it, helping it play up. Winn is able to hold his velocity deeper into starts for a kid of his size, which is another positive. It’s worth mentioning that he’s still projectable so he could potentially add a little more.
Winn is the owner of a 12-6 shaped curve- one of those that’s fun to watch. It’s those powerful 12-6 curves that can make a hitter look foolish if a pitcher has command of it- and with the ability to bury it in the zone or make a hitter chase it because of his command, Winn has that kind of ability. It needs to be a little more consistent as it sometimes looks more above average, but he’s definitely got the feel for spinning a breaking ball.
Winn’s slider is a pitch that’s really evolved. He’s had different action on the pitch and watched it evolve a couple of times to become what it is today. That being a power slider which was born from what used to be more of a cutter. This pitch is still fairly new in it’s current form as it has evolved, and you can make the argument that he can potentially progress more than I’m giving him credit for with the 55-60 grade. Like the curve it can use a bit more consistency, but it’s a second high level breaking ball for sure.
Winn doesn’t need his change much. It’s not unusual for a kid with three other potentially plus pitches to not need the changeup much at the high school level. It requires some projection, but people expect that and it has shown flashes of being at least average to above. It’s not impossible to see the pitch grading up to plus considering he’s a hard worker who likes to compete, but he may not get the in game reps to refine his fourth pitch to that level.
Not only does Winn have a bunch of above average to plus pitches, but his command is also graded at that same level. He’s got a clean, repeatable delivery and knows how to spot his pitches- particularly the fastball and curve.
Cole Winn checks absolutely every box you could want from a prep pitcher. His stuff may not be as loud as Hunter Greene last year for example, but it’s loud enough to be special. Seriously what more could you ask for?
Three plus pitches, and a fourth that’s at least average? Check
Above average or better command? Check
Athletic with good delivery and arm action? Check
Results in the highest levels possible(showcases, tournaments, top high school competition)? Check
Great makeup? Check
The type of competitor who wants to be the best? Check
Some remaining projection? Check
Winn’s pure stuff isn’t the same as Carter Stewart, he doesn’t have the remaining projection of Ethan Hankins, and he’s not left handed like Matthew Liberatore, but with his plus stuff and pitchability you could just as easily make the argument that he could be the best high school pitching prospect in the draft and be taken very seriously.