Cade Winquest has made tremendous strides on the mound in his first 2½ years at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The right-hander didn’t even start pitching until his sophomore year at Eaton High School in Texas. He played primarily in the outfield, but his coaches felt he could be a valuable asset on the mound due to his arm strength. UTA saw the potential in Winquest, even though he wasn’t polished on the mound during his high school career.
UTA recruited Winquest as a two-way player with pitching as his primary position. The experiment as a two-way guy didn’t last long, however. Early on in his freshman season in 2019, UTA started using Winquest as its No. 1 starter due to injuries on its pitching staff, he said.
He experienced mixed results his first two years at UTA. But he showed intriguing potential with the Tulsa Drillers of the Texas Collegiate League last summer. His potential and current abilities, which includes a mid-90s fastball, has Winquest drawing interest from professional scouts.
Winquest is an under-the-radar prospect for July’s MLB draft. If he can improve his control and dominate opposing hitters this spring, Winquest will move up draft boards and cement his status as a draft prospect.
“It has been a blessing to know that I have the opportunity to get drafted,” Winquest said. “It is a really cool feeling and has been a lifelong dream of mine to play professional baseball. Knowing that there have been teams talking to me and talking about me is a blessing. There is no better feeling than that.”
Winquest hasn’t performed up to his expectations for himself over his first two years at UTA. He posted a 5.01 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 24 walks allowed in 50 1/3 innings as a freshman. He split time between the bullpen and starting rotation, with eight of his 14 appearances coming as a starter.
Winquest would have pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League in the summer after his freshman year, but he suffered a UCL sprain that forced him to rest in the offseason.
Last spring, Winquest faced challenging competition and recorded average results before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season prematurely. He appeared in four games, serving as a starter against No. 18-ranked Dallas Baptist, No. 18 Texas Christian, and No. 9 Oklahoma. He allowed seven runs in 9 1/3 innings, posting a 6.75 ERA with 12 strikeouts and 11 walks allowed.
In the summer, Winquest pitched for the Drillers and played for former college baseball head coach and well-regarded pitching coach Tom Holliday, the father of former MLB player Matt and current Oklahoma State baseball head coach Josh.
Holiday helped Winquest with his mental approach, rhythm on the mound, and secondary pitches. Winquest learned how to throw a splitter and slider last summer.
He pitched in seven games, including three starts, and finished the summer with a 3.63 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 19 walks allowed in 17 1/3 innings.
Winquest is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher who throws from a low-effort delivery. His repertoire consists of a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, curveball, splitter, and slider.
He relies heavily on his four-seam fastball, which sits 95-97 and has reached triple digits. His two-seamer has respectable movement and generates weak contact.
His curveball was his top off-speed pitch in his first two years at UTA. This spring, Winquest believes his newly-developed high-80s slider will be his strikeout pitch. Winquest tried developing a changeup until Holliday suggested he throw a splitter. He quickly gained a feel for the splitter. It also plays well off his fastball and features late break.
“I think my competitiveness and desire to win is my biggest strength,” Winquest said. “That has been my biggest strength throughout my career. I don’t know where I got it from, but I definitely use it to my advantage. I am always out there playing for a purpose, playing to win.”
Winquest knows he will need to improve his control and command this spring if he wants to enhance his draft value. He has spent time refining his off-speed pitches and delivery this off-season. He hopes that off-season work, along with an improved mentality on the mound, will allow him to cut down on his walks this spring.
“I need to be more consistent,” Winquest said. “I know I’ve had some command issues here and there. The more I am consistent and can get ahead in counts with my stuff, I will get outs. All I need to do is be consistent and be a pitcher instead of just a thrower.”
UTA hasn’t made the postseason since 2012 but has posted four winning seasons in the last five years. Winquest hopes to lead the Mavericks to the Sun Belt Conference title while having a strong season personally in what might be his final collegiate season.
“I am hoping to be the best pitcher in the conference,” Winquest said. “I want to establish myself as a starter this year. That is my goal. That has been a personal goal since the season ended last year. The draft, I am hoping to get drafted. I also want to win a conference championship with my team because that’s the most important thing for me is winning.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.