Chris "Window" Winder, a 2008 Moffat County High School graduate, hasn't given up on his dream of making it to the big leagues. Now playing for Odessa College in Texas, last year's Colorado top-50 prospect is taking the junior college circuit by storm.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Chris "Window" Winder, a 2008 Moffat County High School graduate, hasn't given up on his dream of making it to the big leagues. Now playing for Odessa College in Texas, last year's Colorado top-50 prospect is taking the junior college circuit by storm.

Draft or no draft, Chris Winder just wants to play ball

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The 2008 Major League Baseball draft came and went without a phone call, fax or e-mail.

The lack of contact from the "bigs" hit Chris Winder hard.

"I was really disappointed," the 2008 Moffat County High School graduate said. "Getting drafted was something I'd been thinking about since I started playing baseball."

But, Winder - or "Window," as labeled by his former high school teammates - didn't make a name for himself on the diamond by giving up.

The four-time Western Slope League all-conference selection and Colorado state top-50 prospect of a year ago, shrugged off being slighted by MLB.

Scholarship offers poured in for the leadoff-hitting shortstop with a Velcro glove, blazing speed and cork-like pop to his bat.

So Winder did the next best thing - he went to play college ball.

He chose Odessa College in Texas, for good reason.

The Wranglers - a perennial baseball powerhouse in the National Junior College Athletic Association - have sent more than 50 ballplayers to the major leagues and are the winningest junior college program in the nation.

"It was a pretty easy choice considering the history of the program," Winder said. "The coaching staff is great, and they've sent, what, like 50 guys to the pros?"

As bad as Winder wanted to become a Wrangler, the Wranglers wanted him even more.

The school's athletic Web site states, "Chris will come in and compete to play shortstop right away, his athletic ability is one of the best on the team and will be a great asset to our program. With the middle of the field gone from last year, there is a spot for him to grab early."

And boy, did he grab it.

Batting lead off when fall ball season began in September, Winder has made his presence felt.

He hit more than .300, has yet to be caught swiping a bag and has become one of the leaders on a talented Odessa roster.

In the team's second game of the fall - with a Kansas City Royals scout watching - Winder batted 2-for-3, reached base three times and showed his versatility by playing centerfield.

"The scout asked my coach if I could play center, so I did," he said. "It was cool. I made an over the shoulder basket catch like (Willie) Mays. I don't know if it was because I misjudged it or not, but the catch looked cool."

The regular season begins Feb. 6 when the Wranglers face Barton Community College (Kan.) in a home doubleheader.

Until then, it's working out, studying and chasing college girls.

Well, maybe not the studying.

"I'm here to study baseball," he said, laughing. "But, I'm doing good in class. I got all A's and B's first semester. But the college girls, man, they are hot.

"So many girls, so little time."

And as far as timing goes, Winder is right on schedule.

In the team's last game of the season - a tournament full of major league scouts - he connected on the first home run of his college career.

"It came at the right time, that's for sure," he said.

He said he would apply to the draft again once his freshman season is finished.

"If I'm drafted high enough, I'm going," he said without hesitation. "I'm going to make it.

"One way or another."

Until then, he'll be chasing fastballs, change-ups and "nasty deuces," learning to do laundry, cooking tilapia and chasing girls.

"Did I mention how hot the college girls are?" he said. "Way hotter than high school."

He need not worry.

If Winder hits the big leagues, the girls will be chasing him.

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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