Introducing the Newest Padres Reliever, Trey Wingenter

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Credit: AP Photo

Yesterday, we learned that the Padres would be calling up Trey Wingenter for the first time in his career.

Today, we learned that his roster spot was cleared by the Brewers’ claim of Jordan Lyles. There were other moves as well, but those will be left for another time. The point is that the team has called up an intriguing young arm in Wingenter, who will soon debut in the major leagues. The 24-year-old figures to be a potential impact reliever at the back end of the Padres’ bullpen in the future.

The tall reliever was drafted in the seventeenth round of the 2015 draft out of Auburn, and is a native of Alabama.

He pitched in the AZL and at short-season Tri-Cities in 2015, the year he was drafted. Then he pitched across three levels in 2016, starting in Fort Wayne before being promoted to Lake Elsinore and then was moved to San Antonio soon afterwards.

This is a guy who clearly was moved quickly because the team believed in his abilities as a power reliever. What’s even more impressive for Wingenter, was the fact that in 2016 his K/9 increased after his promotion to Double-A from High-A ball.

He has spent the entire 2018 season with the El Paso Chihuahuas at Triple-A, with a 3.45 ERA in 44.1 innings of work while striking out 10.76 hitters per nine innings.

The strikeouts are impressive, but they are down from 12.08 per nine last season at Double-A. His BB/9 has increased to the highest it’s ever been in his career, to 4.87 with El Paso this season. On the bright side, he’s lowered his HR/9 rate from 1.13 last year, to an impressive 0.81 figure at Triple-A in 2018. A cool thing about his profile is that he didn’t give up a single home run in pro ball until last season with the Missions, which is very impressive. East Village Times Facts Confirms this:

Wingenter uses his huge 6’7” frame well, throwing a hard fastball that sits anywhere from 95-100 mph. He also throws a respectable slider, along with an average changeup. He’s pitched especially well in the last month or so, as East Village Times Facts points out on Twitter:

The most significant concern with Wingenter among scouts is his command. Fangraphs prospect writer Eric Longenhagen rated his command as 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale, which rates as below average relative to the major leagues. This is a guy who has a powerful fastball, solid secondaries, and has a harder time locating his pitches.

It will be very interesting to see how Wingenter performs in the big leagues this season, because he has such an intriguing profile. He throws so hard, but there is concern about him being able to locate very well. Perhaps he has improved his ability to locate, and that’s what has allowed him to be as good as he’s been since the start of July. If that’s the case, then this is a much better pitcher than we’re giving him credit for.

He compares well to the Giants’ reliever, Ray Black, in many senses. Primarily, they are both pitchers who rely upon a power fastball that sits in the upper nineties and crests 100 mph at times. They also both throw a slider that is their best secondary pitch. In 9.2 innings of work for the Giants so far, Black has pitched to a 2.79 ERA, while striking out 12.10 batters per nine innings, with a 4.66 BB/9 rate.

Look for the Padres to use Wingenter in some fairly significant and important spots late in games, because they don’t really have many guys who clearly deserve to throw the late innings out of the bullpen more than any other options they have. Clearly the team is rebuilding, and should give young arms the chance to prove themselves at the big league level. That’s exactly what they’re going to do with Wingenter and other young arms in the next couple months as the season winds down. Hopefully they’ll find out more about the rookie hurlers than they previously did, so they can use that information to build the next winning Padres team. If Wingenter pitches well enough, he may be a significant part of the team’s bullpen for years down the road. The Padres certainly hope he does just that for them in the years to come.

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