When Mississippi State suddenly no longer had a baseball coach after an abrupt resignation in February, right-handed commit Cole Winn made a swift and easy decision.
Last week, however, he had another huge decision to make. The Texas Rangers selected him with the No. 15 overall pick in the major league draft, giving him a chance at being an instant millionaire if he passed on TCU. Winn signed for $3.15 million, more than $600,000 below the slotted value for the 15th overall pick.
"It's obviously really hard to turn down the first couple of rounds, especially the position I was blessed to be in," said Winn, who along with the Rangers' other top five picks, was introduced Tuesday at Globe Life Park by club director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg. "But I was really thankful for where I was going and that TCU recruited me. I wanted to go with a program I knew and the history TCU has was big for me so it was an easy choice."
Winn's family moved from Colorado to California before his senior season and the high school they chose was not by accident. Orange Lutheran High School, in Orange, Calif., is just a few miles from Disneyland in the heart of Orange County, and is a baseball powerhouse. Astros' pitcher Gerrit Cole played there.
"It worked out really good. It was the best situation I could have asked for," said Winn, who was 8-2 with an 0.20 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 70 innings. "I think that helped me out a lot. It was more like a college program for me. So getting adjusted to that and getting ready for anything this year whether it was pro baseball or college I was really fortunate."
Winn, 18, always seemed a long shot for college. He was named the Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Colorado (at Silver Creek High School) in 2017 and Gatorade's California High School Player of the Year in 2018. MLB.com rated him the 9th top draft prospect and Baseball America rated him 10th.
He's excited about adding some bulk to 6-foot-2, 195-pound body this summer in Arizona. He and the other top picks report at the club's spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona, on Wednesday.
"Baseball is very humbling, so just being with these guys, especially Mason [Englert] and Owen [White], I think we're all going to push each other the right amount and hopefully we'll all get up here [to the big leagues]."
Winn thinks of Nolan Ryan when he thinks about the Rangers' franchise. Not a bad choice.
"Everyone remembers the bloody lip incident and when he got in a fight," said Winn, who was born seven years after Ryan retired as the all-time strikeout king.
"He showed how tough he is as person and as a pitcher. He was dominant and people feared him and that’s how I want to be," Winn said. "I want to be just like Nolan Ryan. I want to be the strikeout pitcher and the guy who comes in every fifth day."