Rest does Wilkins good

Sixth round pick Bobby Wilkins, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher out of San Diego, recently completed his first professional season. In this Q&A feature, Lone Star Dugout speaks to Wilkins about his first professional season, his current development, and his plans for instructional league.

Checking in at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, right-handed pitcher Bobby Wilkins is an imposing presence on the mound. The Texas Rangers took Wilkins – a product of El Cajon, California's Valhalla High School – in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB draft.

Wilkins was one of the first players to sign from the 2007 class and went to work almost immediately. The hurler – who works with a low-to-mid 90's fastball, a curveball, and a changeup – posted a 5.25 ERA in 10 appearances with the Rookie level AZL Rangers this season. He compiled 24 innings, allowed 29 hits, walked eight, and struck out 14.

Lone Star Dugout recently spoke with Wilkins about his first professional season, his plans for instructionals, and his development.

Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on your first professional season?

Bobby Wilkins: Unbelievable. It was nothing I expected. Everything was really positive. I thought I did pretty good. From the people I've been talking to and from people calling me, they said I did pretty good. It was an unbelievable experience. The competition was real good. You're fighting for a job, so every day you are getting better and better.

Cole: You missed some time in the middle of the season. Why was that?

Wilkins: Mostly my arm was just tired. I never officially took a break in between my high school season and my professional season. I went to the coach and asked if it was ok if I got it checked out. I don't know exactly what they called it, but they said I had problems with my muscles being tired. They decided to talk to Scott Servais and he told me to take a few weeks off of throwing and get back into it towards the end of the season. I did that and I think I came back stronger.

Cole: How much better did you feel after that break?

Wilkins: I completely felt 100 percent different from the way I came in. My arm was tired when I came in, but I obviously didn't tell anybody that because I didn't want anyone to think ‘what's this guy's problem?' I kind of kept it under wraps, but it got to the point where I wanted to prevent injury. I ended up having to tell somebody, but it felt like it was a completely new season for me whenever I came out there throwing again.

Cole: Did you lose velocity when you were tired? How did it affect you on the mound?

Wilkins: It didn't really affect my velocity. I don't pay attention too much to velocity. But I was afraid to throw 100 percent, or as hard as I can. My pitching was a little off because I couldn't really pitch with my strength. I kind of had to shy away from those a little bit and go a different route. It kind of did affect my pitching a little bit.

Cole: Are you going to be attending instructionals?

Wilkins: Yeah. I'm going to instructs in a couple of weeks. I'm going to be one of the starters there.

Cole: Do you know what you'll be working on there?

Wilkins: When I was there before it was mostly just my alignment. I guess my alignment has been off a little bit. They said it's no big deal, but that's one of the big things they want to work on with me.

Cole: What exactly do you mean by alignment?

Wilkins: Whenever I set up to pitch, I was facing towards the third base dugout. I'm not completely squared up to home plate. I'm a little off. They want to get me straight so I can get my whole body towards home plate. They want to get my whole momentum towards home plate so I can get my full speed and power towards home plate.

Cole: Had you realized you were doing it before you joined the organization?

Wilkins: There have been a few people that said it looked like my alignment is off. But I didn't really pay attention to it until I watched a video of it and it was pretty bad. I saw it and at that point they told me about it. I kind of brought it up. I said ‘what do you see? Do you see that I'm off on alignment?' We went from there. Every bullpen I have been throwing, we've been working on alignment.

Cole: Have you been working on anything else?

Wilkins: Not really. That's just a real big thing they've been keying in on lately. They said my mechanics are pretty good and they said my pitches are pretty good. They are comfortable with where I am right now, it's just the alignment. That's the big thing they're worried about right now.

Cole: Did you use your changeup much in high school?

Wilkins: No, not really.

Cole: Did the Rangers have you focus on developing that in Arizona this past summer?

Wilkins: They didn't tell me to. But I've noticed from watching the other pitchers on our team that they have been throwing a lot of changeups. Whenever I was starting, there were games where I decided I would throw a lot more changeups. I wanted to see what I could do with it. I'd go out there in a start and I would throw mostly fastballs but instead of my curveball, I decided my changeup was going to be my out pitch.

Cole: How do you feel it developed during your first season?

Wilkins: I think it went well. I noticed that a lot of hitters I faced have trouble hitting the changeup. That's just because it's a difficult pitch to hit. My curveball is tough, but I noticed in high school whenever I threw it, a lot of hitters who were behind on the fastball were able to hit the changeup. But these guys are getting paid to hit the fastball too. You throw a little wrinkle in there, a changeup, or something offspeed, then they have trouble with that. It was definitely a strongpoint for me. They didn't really do much with my changeup, but I think they kind of noticed it's a strong pitch and I should be throwing it a lot more.


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