Indians Right-Hander Wiper Working to Live Up to High Expectatio - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Indians Right-Hander Wiper Working to Live Up to High Expectations

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Patience is something that Cole Wiper has shown, not always by choice, during his baseball career.

"You see guys out there playing and that's all you want to do but your time will come eventually when the rehab is done," Wiper says.

The right-hander from Bellevue was drafted out of high school in the 14th round by the Blue Jays in 2011. He chose to wait on the pros and go to college at Oregon instead, but his career as a Duck involved more time rehabbing than time on the mound.

Wiper had Tommy John surgery and ended up pitching only twelve innings during his redshirt freshman season at Oregon.

“It’s the year rehab and then there’s another six to twelve months of trying to get back to normal and feel normal on the mound again,” he recalls.

Despite his limited work at Oregon, the Texas Rangers liked what they saw in Wiper and took him in the 10th round of the 2013 draft.

Spokane Indians pitching coach Jose Jaimes remembers his first impressions of Wiper back in 2013. “He was a 94-95 [mph] fastball with three pitches he can throw for a strike. I was really happy when I saw him because I knew he was going to do a good job for us.”

When he was drafted by the Rangers, Wiper decided he was ready and didn’t want to wait on his professional career any longer. His decision was rewarded with a $700,000 signing bonus, an amount that is hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than the suggested money for a 10th rounder.

"When there's high levels of money involved, there's always some pressure,” Wiper says of his signing bonus. “But there's pressure not getting any money at all. No matter where you are, you're going to have pressure to perform. It's not that much different than anyone else."

"He's a smart kid,” Jaimes says. “I don't think he takes too much pressure from that. I think he's brought in a lot of experience for our young kids. He's bringing a lot of good stuff for them. He's been kind of like our leader here with the group. He's an older guy so he's been really good for the group."

Like many minor league players, Wiper’s early years of pro baseball have necessitated plenty of patience.

"It's a lot of buses, lot of motels, lot of midnight bus rides,” he says. “But it's fun, you get to go play a game every day for a living.”

In just a few years, his career has taken him from rookie ball in Arizona to the Rangers Class A affiliate in Hickory North Carolina. He started this season at the Class A Advanced level with the High Desert Mavericks before being moved to Spokane.

Wiper has appeared in eight games for the Indians with seven starts, compiling an 0-4 record. He has a 4.97 ERA and 19 total strikeouts, but beyond the numbers Jaimes says he’s seen growth from Wiper on the mound.

"Most important is that he's learning how to pitch without his best stuff. That for me has been his issue for the past couple months. He's showing me that he's learning how to pitch without having the 95 mph fastball or maybe without having command of his secondary pitches. He's getting through innings without having the best stuff, so he's competing pretty well."

Now the Indians are hoping after a few more outings, they'll be able to move Wiper back up. They're also hoping they eventually see his patience and hard work pay off down the road.

"I think he's going to be a starter,” Jaimes says. “He has the tools to be a pretty good starter in the big leagues. That's the potential I see for him."

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