Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

June 27, 2013

Going Nuts: Winkler dominating California League

Former Bulldog part of no-hitter Monday

MODESTO, Calif. — During his time at St. Anthony, Daniel Winkler didn't really consider playing college baseball — until someone told him he should.

After enrolling at Parkland College, he didn't necessarily think he'd be at the University of Central Florida two years later and in the Colorado Rockies organization the year after that.

But now, three years into his professional career, Winkler isn't just pitching and playing; he's dominating the California League for the Modesto Nuts, Colorado's High-A minor-league affiliate.

"When I was in high school, it was nothing I ever thought about," Winkler said. "I never thought about playing college baseball until someone said something to me about it.

"I had a good arm, (but) I've honed my skills and gotten better control. I'm taking baseball a lot more seriously. It's still fun, but it's my job."

It all came to a head Monday night for Winkler and Modesto, as he and two relievers combined for a no-hitter against the San Jose Giants. Winkler went seven strong innings, striking out seven and walking three.

No hitters usually aren't part of Winkler's in-game thought process, but even he had to turn his attention to the matter midway through.

"In the sixth, my second baseman made back-to-back diving plays," he said. "They were unbelievable plays, and I was like, 'Now I can't give up any hits.' They wanted it as bad as I did. It was one of the high points of my career."

It was the first no-hitter in Nuts history, and the first for the Modesto franchise since Aug. 15, 1987 when they were the Modesto A's.

Winkler's been pitching like that all season, however, as he's taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning three times this month alone. In the hitter-friendly California League, it's been nothing but Winkler-friendly.

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