Texas Rangers: Is Cole Winn really back, albeit in a different role?

Chicago Cubs v Texas Rangers
Chicago Cubs v Texas Rangers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

To say that Texas Rangers' prospect, Cole Winn, has struggled over the last year, would be an understatement. The same pitcher that many fans were clamoring about getting a possible call up to Arlington back in 2021 at the age of 21, dropped down the prospect rankings nearly as fast as he made it to the top. Winn now finds himself ranked at 13th and 16th within the Rangers' organization, from MLB.com and Baseball America respectively.

In an article last week, Nolan Writin's Michael Sanders, was contemplating three prospects that are tradeable, and two that the Rangers should hold on too. Sanders wondered if a change in scenery might be a good thing for the talented, but massively underperforming, pitcher.

Well, the Rangers organization decided to give Winn a bit of a change of scenery on their own. Winn, who was selected out of high school with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft, has been a starting pitcher pretty much his entire professional career (he did come out of the pen for his second outing this season). That is until last week. Pitching in relief on two occasions last week for Triple-A Round Rock, Winn didn't just show flashes of his former self, but looked to be completely a different player, in a good way.

It is well documented that Winn was cruising again early last season before a line drive off the leg wreaked havoc on his mechanics and thus his performance. After the May 22nd injury he struggled with command and then, when he would throw strikes, he was getting hit. It was a definite mark on the calendar where he was a dominate pitcher that looked poised to make it to the big leagues very soon, to a player that was searching and not finding any success.

Winn found that success last week in those two relief appearances, with both coming at home, against the Sacramento River Cats. In the first outing, Winn pitched the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings and picked up the win. He threw 36 pitches, 23 of which were for strikes, struck out two, walked none, allowed one hit, and zero runs. This outing from the pen, was right after his previous start where he went four innings, threw 72 pitches, 35 of which were strikes, struck out two, walked 6, gave up five hits, and allowed five earned runs.

For the season, in his previous twelve appearances, Winn had thrown 45 1/3 innings, surrendered 59 hits, 46 walks, and had an 8.74 ERA. The first outing last week was like a breath of fresh air for the young (23-year-old) hurler. Then, to prove to himself, the Rangers, and possibly anyone that might want to trade for him, he went out on Sunday and had nearly a repeat stat line of the outing from Tuesday. In three innings of work (6th-8th), Winn tallied 34 pitches (25 strikes), had one strikeout, allowed no walks, gave up one hit, and held the River Cats scoreless yet again.

For his efforts, Winn was selected as the Rangers Pacific Coast League player of the week. It was the best results that the young pitcher has seen in 13 months. Will the new role be one that he stays in or just one that gets him turned around? I would guess that the Rangers still have hopes of Winn being a starter, or perhaps he is part of a trade package to help bolster the current big-league squad. But it is also hard to argue the results from the games last week and maybe Winn does develop into more of a long reliever. Whatever the case, it was really nice to see Winn bounce back last week and perform at such a high level in back-to-back outings.