MCHS senior turns heads in Front Range league summer ball
The soft-spoken guy they call “Window” is starting to sparkle.
Moffat County senior Chris Winder made the jump from the Western Slope’s American Legion C League to the Front Range’s Legion A league this summer, and he made it look easy.
The difference in talent between the Western Slope league and the Front Range’s league is, at least on paper, considerable. Most of the state’s best baseball players and future collegiate stars are in the A league while the Slope’s teams are young and focused on developing for the next year’s high school season.
“The pitching was a lot better,” Winder said about his new league. “But if pitchers made mistakes, they paid for it.”
The Moffat senior played for Arapahoe Longball, a team affiliated with Arapahoe High School. He’ll also play fall baseball with Arapahoe.
Winder is a three-year starter in baseball for the Bulldogs. In his junior season, he batted .470 as the team’s leadoff hitter, pitched and played shortstop.
At the Class 4A regional tournament hosted by Thomas Jefferson High School, the eventual state runner-up, Winder went seven-for-nine in the Bulldog’s two games.
The regional tournament “was when the Front Range coaches saw me,” he said. “After that, they started talking to me about playing with them for the summer.”
Arapahoe assistant coach and summer head coach Justin Hackett invited Winder to play for Longball. The senior-to-be accepted the invitation and moved to Denver for the summer.
Winder stayed with his sister, Angie, and with Hackett while playing in 70 games with his new teammates.
“I improved in all aspects of my game,” he said. “I learned to get a better jump on the ball and to set my feet better in the field. I heard a lot of compliments from coaches about my defense.”
He led his team in batting with a .550 average.
“I was surprised to be the team leader in batting because there are a lot of good guys and I was also the youngest,” he said. “I learned to go up to the plate with a plan instead of just going up there to swing whenever.”
Winder continued to prove his prowess in big games. He hit five homeruns in the five games in the Legion state tournament, including two in the championship game against Monarch.
Arapahoe lost the championship, 8-5, but Winder caught the attention of college and pro scouts.
“I’ve heard from a lot of college teams,” he said, mentioning the likes of perennial college powerhouses Wichita State, Long Beach State and Nebraska.
He also talked to a couple of professional teams about the draft. Late in the summer, he attended a talent showcase for the Detroit Tigers.
“I hope to go to a couple of more showcases as they come,” he said.
After the fall season, Winder will be back to leading the Bulldogs.
“I hope I can take what I learned and help make us better,” he said. “I’m here to do what it takes to help the team win baseball games.”
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