The Frisco RoughRiders, Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, have several quality pitchers on the roster. Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado, and Connor Sadzeck are all top 30 prospects and often talked about within the Texas Rangers organization. One name is starting to get more attention, and that’s Collin Wiles.
Wiles was drafted in the in the supplemental first round of the 2012 MLB draft. He went 53rd, out of Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, Kansas. I asked Wiles what he felt when he heard his name being called. “It was surreal. I had to watch it a couple of more times before it sank in,” the 23-year-old said. He spent the 2012 season with the AZL Rangers.
In 2013, Wiles posted the 10th-lowest Earned Run Average in the Northwest League, at 3.09. The following year was tougher for him. Wiles opened 2014 with Class-A Hickory but spent two months on the disabled list with elbow inflammation in his throwing arm. Wiles commented on the injury, “I was still a kid back then. I’ve learned a lot, and I continue to learn a lot. I take pride in knowing more and more about how to stay healthy.”
He continued with Class-A Hickory in 2015, starting a team-high 20 games. He ranked second in the South Atlantic League in WHIP (1.05), fifth in ERA (2.96), and fifth in wins (11). He was voted a Midseason All-Star in that year. In 2016, with Advanced-A High Desert, Wiles was second on the staff in innings pitched (127) and starts (23). He walked just 5.4% of batters that he faced, the lowest among all full season Rangers minor league players.
In the first half of the season with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders, Collin Wiles went 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA. He played in 15 games, starting 14 of them, and pitching one complete game shutout (that you can read about by clicking here). In total, Wiles tossed 78.2 innings, allowed nine home runs, walked 10 batters, and struck out 54. He ended the first half with a 1.27 WHIP. He was named a Texas League Pitcher of the Week, alongside fellow RoughRiders pitcher Yohander Mendez. Wiles was also selected as a Texas League All-Star and pitched in the game.
Collin Wiles has been one of the more impressive pitchers to watch this season. He was not on my radar, as he wasn’t listed as one of the top prospects on any kind of publication. He quickly got my attention from his very first start. There is something about his mechanics. He looks like a pitcher. Someone might say “he’s a pitcher, of course, he looks like one.” But that isn’t always the case. With Wiles, he owns the mound. You can see that it’s his comfort zone. Some people picture sitting on a beach or lying next to a fireplace as their “happy place.” When I saw Wiles pitch for the first time, I could tell his “happy place” was the mound.
While stats will undoubtedly be looked at and discussed, it isn’t the primary focus here at the Double-A level. Development is the priority. On a game-to-game basis, it isn’t necessarily how successful a player is. It’s all about getting them ready for the next step in their career. Learning, conditioning, and practicing in a live-game environment is what each player and coach is aiming for.
When I sat down and talked with young Collin Wiles, he reiterated that same point. “That’s something that is preached throughout the organization, from the lowest level. They always talk about ‘the process’ and trusting ‘the process’ probably close to a million times,” he told me.
One of the most important things about a player is who they are off the field. After talking to Wiles, you can tell that he is what every club wants for their players’ off-field character. When he isn’t playing baseball, Wiles does what a lot of other young guys do. When he’s not spending time at the ballpark, he enjoys video games. “I’m a nerd. I play Xbox and PlayStation. I love sports game, for the competitiveness. But I also love Call of Duty and Battlefield and other first-person shooters.”
When talking to Wiles, you quickly get a feel for who he is and what he’s about. He’s probably one of the most genuine, nice guys that I’ve talked to in my time as a writer. He spoke from the heart and spoke about baseball and life with true passion. One of his important values is family.
He spoke deeply about his relationship with girlfriend Haley Segui. “Haley is incredible. She does everything off the field so that I don’t have to worry about anything while I’m here (at the ballpark). It’s really overlooked, I feel, to have someone to fall back on that can take care of things that you might not think about until they’re a problem.” They’ve been together for two-and-a-half years, and live together close to Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.
Haley does whatever she can to support Wiles, even more so during the season. “The women don’t spend much time with the men during the season but in my eyes, the season is about Collin and chasing his lifelong dream. I always put Collin first during the baseball season and do my best to make his life the easiest it can be so that he can comfortably live his days and play with no stress and worries. Even if that means I will be stressed and super busy I will still always do anything to make his life the easiest possible. The offseason is when he is very good about spending time with me and making trips and doing all the things I want to do, so we balance everything really well,” she told me.
“The absolute best thing about Collin is a hard one. He has so many great things about him. I would say it’s his love and compassion for the people and things he loves in life. He is a Godly man who pushes me and many others around us to be better people every single day,” Haley said about the young pitcher.
It’s easy to see what she’s talking about. Just five minutes into talking with Wiles, I had a deep respect for him as a person. He spoke of values, passion, and doing the right thing. These aren’t qualities you find in many players that are in their early 20s. Whatever becomes of Wiles and his professional baseball career, one thing can be said with almost certainty. He is a fantastic man and will impact the lives of those around him.
Wiles mentioned his parents often throughout our conversation, and how supportive they’ve been in his life.
After talking to Wiles’ mom, you realize the difficulty that being a professional athlete has on parents. “Before this season, the biggest struggle was not being able to see him as often as we’d like to. When you go to college, kids get breaks and get to come home. Professional ballplayers don’t. From mid-February to mid-September, they are gone,” she said.
His mom and dad make sure he knows they are there for him. Despite some of the toughness that comes with the distance, they stand by their son and reach out to him all the time. Before each one of his starts, Wiles’ father sends him a message. Here’s an example of one:
“Good luck tonight! Have fun, take care of business. Control the controllable, stay in your three ft. world. Stay in a good rhythm and take control of the game. Do your job, sign, location, deliver. Keep your nose over your toes and get down the hill with some arm speed on all pitches. Repeat your motion and compete!!! Pitch with confidence and conviction and with a chip on your shoulder. Compete!! Have fun! Love you!”
Wiles wanted to leave one message at the end of our time talking. For the kids that have the dream of playing professional baseball, as so many of us once had, he says “Dream as big as you can. If your dreams seem too big, you know you’re on the right track.”
All in all, speaking with Collin Wiles was one of the highlights of my journalism career. To find a young man so dedicated to his work, his family, and those around him, is truly rare. I wish nothing but the best for Wiles in the future. As a baseball player, he’ll be successful. As a person, he’ll be even more so. That’s why truly matters in life.
Follow Blake Cole, Senior Writer for The Inscriber, on Twitter (@blakeacole) for more about Collin Wiles, The Frisco RoughRiders, and the Texas Rangers.