Adelanto, California —— At the top of this post, watch our full 2016 scouting video of Texas Rangers right-handed pitching prospect Collin Wiles, taken predominantly from a start of his in August, 2016 for the High Desert Mavericks against California League opponent Stockton Ports.
Collin Wiles scouting report notes
It’s easy to see the results Collin Wiles had pitching for the High Desert Mavericks in 2016: 23 starts, 127 innings, a 3-8 record (ugh), a 4.89 ERA (meh), a .285 opponents’ batting average (yuck), and an 80:29 strikeout to walk ratio (eh). Got it? Great! Now throw it all out.
Yes, context matters; High Desert is (was) the single worst place to pitch in all of minor league baseball, and Wiles’ numbers can be adjusted a bit to account for that. And yes, the Mavericks won the Cal League championship last summer, so all’s well that ends well. (By the way: can you guess who High Desert trusted to pitch the championship-clinching game against the Visalia Rawhide to win it all? Bingo.)
But Wiles’ game goes far deeper than a stat line, whether good (he was 11-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 22 games for Low-A Hickory in 2015) or not-as-good, like High Desert. A four-pitch guy who has that classic back-end rotation look to him already, Collin Wiles is—as teammate Jose Trevino told me this winter—among the most fiercely competitive and intense pitchers in the entire Rangers’ system. Coming from Trevino, that carries weight. Then you watch Wiles pitch a few times, and you understand Trevino means what he says.
Wiles’ command is good, his delivery is relaxed and repeatable, and he’s a big, strong kid proving to be durable enough to take the ball every fifth day as he grows. He has a nice four-pitch mix (fastball, curve, slider, changeup) with good arm-side run on the fastball and mostly downward movement to various degrees on everything he throws. He doesn’t light up the radar gun (he’ll sit anywhere from 87-93 mph), and he doesn’t have a hammer, but nothing he throws lags behind, either. The sum of it all has forced him to learn how to pitch more than throw pretty much from day one of his pro career. The key to surviving High Desert is, in some ways, like the broader key of being a back-end rotation arm: bend, but don’t break. You don’t need to throw eight scoreless innings every time out, but your team needs you to keep them in the game with five or six solid frames. In that sense, Collin Wiles is an expert.
He had a brutal rookie ball experience after somewhat unexpectedly being drafted very high by the Rangers out of high school, but that’s made him grow up quicker. In a way, maybe it was a blessing in disguise:
— Bobby DeMuro (@BobbyDeMuro) March 6, 2017
It’s experiences like that which can’t be quantified by a stat line, and yet perfectly tell the story of Collin Wiles. He’ll start 2017 with the Frisco RoughRiders in the Double-A Texas League. From there, I think he’s got a legitimate shot to be at the back end of the Rangers’ rotation, or working as a relief long man, by 2019. He’ll turn 23 at the end of May and still has time to blossom into a functional big league pitcher (imagine a Jordan Lyles-type).
And the competitiveness, man. There’s no question Wiles is on the outside looking in at sexier pitching prospects like Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado, but you can—and should—bank at least a little bit on Wiles’ competitiveness.
High Desert broke countless pitching prospects in 25 years of pro ball. It didn’t break Collin Wiles.
Collin Wiles scouting report: 140 characters or less
Measurables belie a fierce competitiveness and mature feel for pitching; Collin Wiles’ future is brighter than what many realize after 2016.
Collin Wiles scouting report video + GIFs
Again, for the full video, you can see Collin Wiles pitching for the Texas Rangers from a variety of different angles at the top of this post.
For more, below we have a set of Collin Wiles video clips from a variety of angles, and below that, a set of GIFs showing his mechanics and the action of a few of his pitches.
Collin Wiles video: mechanics
Collin Wiles video: Texas Rangers at-bat clips vs. Oakland A’s prospects
Collin Wiles GIFs: August, 2016 mechanics + pitch life
Collin Wiles scouting report: The pitcher in his own words
On his own personal growth after a tough few seasons to start his career:
“It’s just maturity. I mean, 2014 I was in Hickory, and I was in my head, and it was spinning, just spinning real fast, you know what I mean? That was a tough first full season. But last year I was able to go back, and you take that growth along with a Jose Trevino, along with the scouting reports we get from [Texas Rangers minor league pitching coach] Oscar [Marin], and you’re able to finally slow things down. And that’s huge, because when you’re on the mound, that’s the loneliest place in the world when things are going bad. But if you can slow the game down, and have an idea about the things you want to do, it gets easier. I’ve finally been able to incorporate that into my career.”
On High Desert’s exceptionally strong locker room culture in 2016:
“That’s something that’s really been good from the start on to the end, our locker room is unbelievable. It’s a great group of guys, and that’s a credit to the scouting department of the Texas Rangers. They put this team together because they thought that we could compete here. And that’s what we did. We lost guys, like Yohander Mendez, Luis Ortiz, Ariel Jurado, these big name starting pitchers, but you take these guys that replace them coming up from Hickory, which is also an unfair environment, and you put them here, and you put them with Hosey [Jose Trevino], and you put them in our locker room, and it’s just… you know what, we know what we are up against. It’s like, it’s always a 3-2 game, but no one can relax, because that can turn into a 12-2 game in a couple of pitches. As soon as you relax, you get punched in the mouth.”
On his own projection and velocity despite being such a high draft pick:
“When the Texas Rangers took me, I don’t think they thought I’d ever be a 97 mph guy, although I still think there’s more to come out of my arm, and that’s a credit to our strength coach Anthony Miller. But I know I’m not going to be that guy, so I have to find another way to do my job. And my job is to go as deep into the game as I can, and take the pressure off the bullpen, and take the pressure off the hitters. If I can see a lineup three times all the way through, I’ve had a great day, because that means I’m probably deep in the game.”
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