BRISTOL - After getting their first glimpse of what Justyn-Henry Malloy can do on a field last week, Bristol Blues fans will get to see another new face tonight.
Patrick Winkel will be making his home debut for Bristol in tonight’s game against the Worcester Bravehearts.
“Playing in the Futures league is going to be awesome, it’s a great college league and the opportunity to be around that type of talent catching college pitches and hitting college pitchers is important,” Winkel said. “It’s a great experience and the biggest goal is to win the Futures League.”
It’s been an exciting month for Winkel.
The Orange, Conn. native and Amity High School catcher was named Gatorade’s Connecticut Player of the Year, got drafted in the 31st round of the MLB Draft by the New York Yankees prior to his semifinal baseball game in the Class LL tournament, graduated from high school and most recently spent time on UConn’s campus, where he’s heading this fall for his freshman year.
Winkel became the second baseball player from Amity High School to receive Gatorade’s Connecticut Player of the Year award, the first being Jason Esposito.
Receiving such a prestigious honor is a telling sign of both the player Winkel is but also the person. Gatorade takes three certain factors into consideration according to its website. - athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character, according to their website.
Before heading to UConn Winkel will spend the rest of summer in Bristol playing for the Blues. It’s a good opportunity that offers him a chance to play against strong collegiate talent and also top-level high school prospects that are off to different collegiate programs in the fall.
In his first game for Bristol, Winkel finished 1-for-5 at the plate in the Blues 9-7 loss against the Pittsfield Suns.
“My take away from my first game was that the talent level is very high and you have to value every at bat in the league,” Winkel said. “You’re not going to get four hits every game like you can sometimes in high school. The pitching is much tougher.”
He hit third in the batting order in front of Malloy.
“Patrick is a really good player and he brings a dangerous bat to the lineup every day,” Malloy said. “I don’t know him personally yet but the swing is pure and he puts on a show in batting practice, he’s gonna be fun to watch.”
Winkel was part of this year’s Amity team that reached the semifinals in Class LL before losing to Ridgefield in a close 2-1 game. He hit .549 with six home runs and 20 RBI in the regular season for Amity.
Winkel’s impact will be felt in the heart of the order this summer.
“He’s a left handed hitter that drives the ball gap to gap,” Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said. “He’s a true RBI guy for us. When he gets on in situations to drive somebody in, he’s going to take advantage of that. He can drive the ball out of the park as well, which is a big advantage for any manager to have.”