When spring training begins and catcher Austin Wynns tries to show the new coaching staff what he can do, we know passion will not be in short supply.
He’s a high-energy, intense player who is clearly very invested in the pitcher-catcher combo and working together with his hurler to get a good result.
Wynns made his major league debut last June 5 at the New York Mets and singled in his first at-bat. The club’s 10th-round pick in 2013 got into 42 games with the Orioles and hit .255/.287/.382 with four homers and 11 RBIs. The 28-year-old Wynns threw out 32 percent last season. He was a rookie but trying to soak up everything about the big league experience.
“What I learned is the speed of the game and how to slow it down and picking the veterans’ and coaching staff’s mind,” Wynns said. “This offseason I worked with Rick Dempsey some, and he’s very knowledgeable. Basically, to strengthen the balls of the feet and the setup. Just to be feeling more athletic back there. Still learning and want to get better each year.
“I’m really looking forward to it (working with the new staff). Awesome people. (Catching instructor Tim) Cossins is like a guru. He knows a lot, and I’m looking forward to picking his mind and looking forward to what he brings. It will be a different spring, for sure. We’re going to be underrated, but we’re going to be mighty and show people that we’re not messing around.”
Hey, the mighty and underrated Orioles!
Wynns would love to bring some offense to the catching position and he works on that, but he also knows that his position begins and ends with his defensive work and what he does in the field.
“For catchers, you have to lead with your defense and control your staff. That is the priority,” Wynns said. “You want to hit a little bit. Been working a lot with my hitting some. Getting into certain position and just getting reps. You’ll see, you’ll see in spring.”
Told you, passion and intensity.
But after going from a player who wasn’t drafted until after his senior year at Fresno State in 2013 to finally making the majors last year, Wynns now finds himself with a whole new coaching staff to try to impress.
“You have to prove yourself every year,” he said. “No matter what, you can’t get comfortable. That is my mentality always. It is always a learning experience and you want to get better each day.”
The Orioles don’t have a lot of experience with their catchers. Wynns has played just 42 big league games. But Wynns has a lot of experience with some of the pitchers he will catch in 2019. It’s just that most of that experience came on the farm.
“You want to know them on the field and off the field. Know the strengths and weaknesses. I’m familiar with a lot of these guys from the minors. I know how to push them and when to back off. As a catcher you need to have that,” he said.
So Wynns is ready for a new season to start. In one short FanFest interview, the intensity was on display.
“I’m very passionate because I want all our pitchers to be successful,” Wynns said. “I want us to be successful. I want to win. That’s in my blood. Whatever we have to do.”