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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Pekin alum Keaton Winn drafted by Giants

By Justin Webster | Jun 06, 2018
Photo by: Photo submitted by Chris Winn 2016 Pekin graduate Keaton Winn signed his professional baseball contract with the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night in his home in Ollie and is headed to Scottsdale, Arizona Sunday.

Twenty years of work made a dream come true Tuesday when 2016 Pekin graduate Keaton Winn was selected 136th overall by the San Francisco Giants as a right-handed starting pitcher with the second pick of the fifth round in the Major League Baseball draft.

“I was sitting in my chair and I knew I was going to get drafted today,” said Winn who added.

“My brother-in-law Ray was watching it on the live stream and it was lagging and I was on the phone with my advisor and he goes ‘Hey, you just got drafted’ and I said, ‘No, I’m watching it right now’ and then sure enough my name gets called and everything goes crazy in the house.”

“I can’t start talking or I’ll get choked up,” admitted Keaton’s father Chris.

“I can’t sum it up because he just finished playing in the JUCO World Series and got home Friday night,” shared his mom Lynn who added, “It’s just been a roller coaster of emotion over the last two weeks.”

As far as knowing where he would go, Winn hadn’t spoken to the Giants since they drafted him last season in hopes that he would sign, although he was open with most teams going into the 2017 draft that he would likely return to Iowa Western where he was finishing his freshman year.

“I could get more money going back to college for another year and could get a better round,” explained Winn. “I could grow and get stronger and compete for a national championship, as well.”

Of course, Winn’s brother-in-law Ray was hoping he would go to the Cardinals and his high school coach Pi Reighard is a big Cubs fan, but Keaton said he felt a rush of relief once he was finally drafted, regardless of the team, and all of the anxiety that had been building slipped away and he’s ready to play and is excited for the future.

 

The future

The rollercoaster continues when Keaton leaves for Scottsdale, Arizona Sunday and will spend two weeks there before likely heading to Salem, Oregon to join the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants in the short-season Northwest League.

Keaton will continue to throw and lift as he prepares for the next level. He’s only taken four days off all year and doesn’t have any more scheduled anytime soon.

 

The past

Winn’s first memory of baseball was playing t-ball at the Ollie baseball diamond that basically sits in his backyard. He admits it’s a “pretty cool feeling” being the best player in Ollie’s 135 year history, but that did not come without hard work.

“Keaton would play basketball in the winter and then after basketball he would go to pitching lessons,” said his mom Lynn. “He worked on this every single night of his life.”

Before that, Winn played Babe Ruth with all of the kids from Fairfield and Van Buren and their team traveled to North Dakota and Colorado after winning the Iowa state championship.

“We were just out there playing baseball back then,” said Winn with a smile.

In high school, he became a full-time varsity player as a sophomore and played shortstop and centerfield along with pitching.

As Keaton got older, his velocity grew, starting at around 83-85 mph as a freshman and growing to 86 as a sophomore, low 90s as a junior and landing between 91-94 by the time he was a senior for the Panthers.

 

College

Winn only received two division one offers to play baseball, Eastern Michigan and Western Illinois. Although he also had offers to play basketball and football since he was a two-time all-state football player at Pekin and also won the 4x200 for the Panthers at the state meet and was runner-up on the 4x100 team, he chose baseball.

Winn was asked the question, “Would I really want to wake up in the morning and say, ‘Wow, I’m at Eastern Michigan or would I rather say I’m at Mississippi State or Ole Miss?” and that solved his problem as he chose to go to Iowa Western for two years and compete in one of the most intense baseball programs in the nation.

“In high school, I could get away with throwing 90 down the middle, but as I adjusted to college, I had to learn to use off speed pitches and to throw for strikes,” explained Winn.

When asked when he really believed he could make a career of this, Winn shared it came about a year ago when he was finishing his freshman season. “My velocity was starting to go up and teams started talking to me and I was like ‘Alright, I guess this is how it’s going to go now.”

Although he didn’t sign last season, this year was “more like it’s real and I knew I needed to talk to teams and find out what they want from me and what I want from them.”

What do they want from Winn?

“They just want me to be me and be a competitor and an athelete on the mound.”

 

Family and friends

Keaton has received calls and texts of support since the announcement from around the country from friends, family and former teammates. In fact, some Giants fans have already reached out on Twitter to express their excitement about his signing. Winn has a younger brother Kennan and sister Paige who attend Pekin still and his older sister Alex and her husband Ray have been a supportive part of the process as well.

Winn wanted to thank his dad Chris, his high school coach Pi, his college coach Les Washington, Doug Thompson from the barn in Ottumwa, his advisor for the last two years Randy Walter and his coaches at Iowa Western.

 

The Giants

“They like that I’m tall and skinny and they can see me projecting into the future,” said Keaton. “They like that I have three-four pitches that I can throw for a strike at any time. I compete and I’m an athlete on the mound. One of the biggest things they say I need to work on is my changeup. Being in college I closed at the end of the year and they didn’t see much of it and they want me to work on it.”

They also liked that he was a well-rounded, four-sport athlete and although Winn misses putting on his pads and helmets and showing his opponent who’s the superior athelete, his mom is happy that small ball was the route he went.

“This is a healthier option and my mom is happy I chose baseball,” said a smiling Winn.

Now he’s looking forward to getting into the minor league clubhouse and talking to all the guys and starting his career with the Giants organization.

He also thinks it will be cool when he gets to play as himself on the video game, MLB The Show.

“Heck yeah,” said Winn with another massive smile. “It’s just all been so surreal.”

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