A familiar face is returning to Lupton this fall, as former TCU ace Kyle Winkler returns to put on the purple after seven years in professional baseball. Winkler will serve as a student assistant as he finishes his TCU degree.
A 2011 All-American, Winkler was named to the All MWC team twice before being drafted in the 10th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks after a junior season that saw him post an 8-2 record with a 1.39 ERA, 99 strikeouts, and just 18 walks. He helped lead the Frogs to their first-ever Super Regional team as a freshman and to the College World Series as a sophomore, sparking a program that took off from there. Winkler finished his TCU career with a 27-6 record, throwing five complete games, and amassing 239 strikeouts in 281 innings of work. His career ERA is 2.95.
Kyle, for one, is happy to be back in the place that made him. “I am so excited to be back at TCU,” said Winkler. “My dream, ever since leaving in 2011, has been to return one day to finish my degree and be a part of the baseball team again. I am so thankful to Coach Schlossnagle and the whole staff for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to doing whatever I can to help TCU baseball get back to Omaha.”
So is his former coach, and current dugout mate. “It’s always great to see our former players come back to finish their degree after professional baseball,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “Kyle was an incredible pitcher for us and a part of some historic teams and games at TCU. His college experience, along with his professional baseball experience, will help us continue to serve our current players at the highest possible level. We are beyond excited to have Kyle back on campus!”
Winkler comes back to Fort Worth after seven seasons in professional baseball playing in the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Rays’ organizations. He made 20 starts as part of 215 career appearances on the mound. In 352 innings pitched, Winkler fanned 345 batters and boasted an ERA of 4.50.
The influence of this former Frog on a young pitching staff could be substantial - Winkler will have a chance to work with rising stars in sophomores Russell Smith, Caleb Sloan, Augie Mihlbauer, and James Notary. Likely early-round draft pick Nick Lodolo, a junior, will also benefit from his tutelage and experience. As the Frogs replace 2⁄3 of their weekend rotation and the best closer in college baseball, the team of Winkler and Saarloos should salve some fears about the future arms race in Fort Worth.