Alex Wimmers Has Perspective... And Pitches
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA Today“They’ve dealt with a lot with me and I felt like I owed it to them. At the same time, I love it here. Love the guys. Love the teammates. Love the potential that this team has. I feel like once they offered me to come back, I didn’t want to turn it down because I feel like this team can really be special. I really do. And I feel like I can be a part of that.”
The Twins drafted Wimmers out of Ohio State where he was twice named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Over those two seasons, he went 18-2 with ERAs or 3.27 and 1.60. The Twins made him the 21st overall pick of the 2010 draft, and he signed and went straight to Ft. Myers to join the Miracle. The next spring, he reported to spring training camp unable to throw strikes. He was shut down and came back later in the year. Things started looking good again. In fact, in his final start of the season, he tossed a no-hitter for the Miracle. Unfortunately, he then needed Tommy John surgery and missed a little more than a year.
(Yes, he has talked some with Trevor May after news of his torn UCL, “I talked to him a little bit about it, but at the same time, he can’t do anything about it now. So just do the best he can to rehab and get healthy and try to focus on being healthy for the start of next year.”)
Going through all of that was difficult, but it was all part of his maturing process. Through it all, he gained some perspective.
When I talked to Wimmers in late September last year, he talked a bit about the perspective he gained in his career. But when his daughter was born last summer, an added bit of perspective was found. It helped him leave the ballgame and the ballpark behind whether he pitched well or not.
Wimmers said, “I just try to take everything day-by-day. Stuff happens in life that you can’t control. You can’t expect certain things, and there’s a reason for everything. I know a lot of stuff doesn’t go your way, but if you find a way to take the positives out of it, then I think things will work out in the long run.”
After coming back, he tried to return to the role of starting pitcher, but he struggled. Another setback of sorts, but it turned into a positive for his career. The bullpen is a role that he’s been able to adjust to and really thrive in.
“Going from starter to reliever is definitely interesting because I have been starting pretty much my whole life. I had to learn in the beginning of last year just how to get ready quickly. That was the hard part especially in the cold weather. That was my big adjustment. Not only get the call to get ready, but still be ready to go into the game later in the game. I had to get used to that.” He continued, “As far as closing, that’s just a role that (Rochester manager Mike) Quade put me in and felt confident in me, and then I took it and ran with it. I enjoy it. I really did.”
Wimmers has been able to find success and figure out a way to get batters out with his stuff. He is able to get hitters out, in large part, due to his starting pitcher’s repertoire. He’s got the pitches, and some are above average.
“Obviously my changeup is pretty good. I have a really good cutter now. I have a curveball late in the count that I don’t like to show much, but then when I do, it catches them by surprise. I feel like I have four good pitches that I can go to at any time.”
The Red Wings boarded the bus and were on their way to Scranton for a game. The bus was plenty loud as players were talking or watching a movie. Others sat quietly with headphones covering their ears.
However, it suddenly got very quiet, and Wimmers heard his name called from the front of the bus.
Wimmers recalls, “The coaches told me to come up to the front of the bus, and they told me I was heading to the big leagues. Pretty exciting.”
Clearly when you’ve had the ups and downs that Wimmers has had, and you’ve been toiling in the minor leagues for more than six years, he had to have had a very strong support staff.
“The first person I called was my wife. She was in tears. Then I called my father and my mom, and everyone was really, really excited.”
Wimmers came up and joined the team in Toronto. On August 26th, he made his major league debut against the Blue Jays. He worked a perfect eighth inning and even struck out two batters. He worked a total of 17.1 innings over 16 appearances. He walked 11 and struck out 14, though six of the walks came in back-to-back outings. He recorded his first, and so far only, big league win against the Royals on September 7th.
Since re-signing with the Twins, Wimmers has had a very productive offseason. He said that he learned a ton from his five-week stint in the big leagues that he is able to bring with him. He is glad that he was able to get to the big leagues and get some experience, but now the challenge is to push himself to the next step and get back there.
“About myself, (I learned to) just keep trusting my stuff. There’s a reason why I got there with my stuff. I feel like all my pitches did well there, so just continue to pound the strike zone.”
He’s been working with a renewed focus, a focus based on having been there, having finally seen that time in the big leagues and learning what he needed to work on.
He said, “(I) tightened up my pitches, but my big thing coming into this year, I wanted to make sure I focused on getting strike one. When I got called up, the biggest thing I noticed was when I had the most success I got ahead of batters, so I really want to focus this year.”
Recently Alex Wimmers was joined by his wife (Amy) on the field of Hammond Stadium. Their nearly one-year-old daughter was in her stroller. Amy held a white ball. Alex held a bat in his hands and stood in a left-handed, relaxed stance on the warning track near the Twins bullpen.
Moments later, Amy pitched the ball underhanded toward Alex. He took a mighty swing (OK, not really, he was pretty worried about whiffing!). He connected, and the “ball” exploded, producing a puff of blue powder.
That’s right. The Wimmers family will expand to four in September when they welcome a son into the world.
Alex Wimmers now has a little more perspective, and he has a little more drive to make it back to the big leagues.
Don’t count him out.
- Thrylos, Oldgoat_MN, dbminn and 1 other like this