Cole Winn, the top high school pitcher in Colorado in 2017, moved to Anaheim in September after his father needed to be closer to job clients. He enrolled at Orange Lutheran High, but it wasn’t until January when he realized how comfortable he was.
“It was an awesome winter wearing shorts almost every day,” he said. “Playing baseball in January was amazing. It was incredible being out on the field and not having to worry about whether you’re going to have time to hit indoors.”
Winn proved himself to be the best pitcher in California this season, going 8-2 with an 0.20 earned-run average. He has been selected The Times’ high school player of the year.
Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba called Winn “the best I’ve ever seen.”
With a 94-mph fastball and an equally impressive curveball, Winn was pretty much unbeatable once he got into a groove. The first inning did present problems on occasions, mostly because he would be so fired up. He would write messages in his hat to remind him to slow down and take deep breaths.
“I just get too hyped before the game,” he said. “Too much energy, too much adrenaline. And sometimes I don’t realize I’m going too fast and need to slow down. I think that’s what happens in the second and third innings when I get into a groove.”
Winn also contributed as a hitter, but his pitching was extraordinary. The senior right-hander struck out 120 batters in 70 innings, walked 11 and gave up two earned runs. He helped the Lancers win the National High School Invitational in North Carolina and the Trinity League championship. In his only two playoff appearances, he threw seven innings in a 3-0 victory over Moorpark and five innings in a 4-0 victory over Gahr.
“I just worked harder and harder to get better after every start,” he said.
He was selected No. 15 overall by the Texas Rangers on the first day of the amateur draft.
Winn never was much of a skier in Colorado (he played basketball on the weekends). And he hasn’t learned how to surf in California. But he won’t forget his senior year in sunny Southern California.
“It’s been nothing but good experiences,” he said.