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Man of Quality

Wiles’ mechanics on mound and methods in life key in elevation

Las Vegas pitcher Collin Wiles winds up for a pitch on the mound at Las Vegas Ballpark. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

After 10 seasons in the Texas Rangers organization, pitcher Collin Wiles found his way to the Oakland Athletics this offseason.

“First of all, we knew we were getting a big time competitor,” Las Vegas manager Fran Riordan said. “That was the first thing that stood out, what a competitor he is. How intense he is when he pitches and then you start talking about his stuff.” Wiles made his way through the majority of the Rangers’ ranks beginning in rookie ball and making his way to Double-Ain three consecutive years.

He finally got his Triple-A opportunity in 2021 with Round Rock. That year, he went 7-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 11 starts and 23 appearances.

“It was kind of easy because Texas didn’t offer me a contract to come back,” Wiles said. “It was crazy, I went the whole offseason – obviously the lockout happened. [But] I didn’t hear anything from when the season ended last year until the beginning of March this year.

“I think it was a Thursday and we had eight calls from eight different teams [...] And I think the A’s were the last team to call. And I didn’t really look at their Triple-A and I’m like, ‘Oh it’s in Las Vegas.’ And I live in Scottsdale, [Arizona].”

During Las Vegas homestands, Wiles’ wife, Haley, and their two dogs will make the trip to be together as a family. When Collin has to leave on road trips, the gang returns home to Arizona.

Collin and Haley Wiles pose for pictures on their Wedding Day. Photo Credit: Collin Wiles' Instagram page

Through his first three starts with Las Vegas this season, he allowed 23 hits. However, he never wavered and never did his manager as he racked up a 2-1 record with two quality starts.

That started a stretch of 10 straight outings of five or more innings to open the year. During that stretch, Wiles went 3-4 with a 6.52 ERA with three quality starts.

“It looks like he knows he’s going to get the next hitter out,” Riordan said. “He knows he can throw any pitch at any time and he knows he’s not going to miss over the heart of the plate.” That’s exactly what Wiles sees while on the mound. In fact, he keeps track of exactly what he’s doing while up there.

“It’s forcing the issue on my part,” he said. “It’s three to four pitches per plate appearance or less. If I can get early contact, I love early contact.”

June 12th during a road trip to Sugar Land, Wiles had that streak broken when he was roughed up for five runs on five hits in three innings of work while striking out two and walking two.

“Just my faith,” Wiles said when asked how he shakes off a bad game. “Just pour into it. I read the Bible and I believe the Bible [...] And there’s a lot of good stuff in there about keeping the faith, keeping your head high, keeping your head above water.”

Even when things didn’t go right for Wiles on the mound, Riordan found it easy to stick with him in tough situations. “It’s easy to stick with him out there even if he is struggling or we’re not defending behind him because he has an uncanny ability to just go to the next pitch,” Riordan said. “To stay locked in, stay in the moment, to stay present and to consistently compete into the sixth and seventh innings of games.”

That trust from Riordan and company can go a long way for a pitcher, especially Wiles.

“It’s great – it’s unbelievable,” Wiles said. “Just having the trust of Fran, [pitching coach Steven Connelly]. Even on the hitting side, [ hitting coach Brian McArn and assistant hitting coach Jason Hart] are in the dugout after a long inning and they’re right there being the first ones to pick me up.”

Over the next five games, Wiles would go 4-1 with all of which qualifying as quality starts. In fact, he even tossed a complete game in the process against his former team, the Round Rock Express. That game he gave up three runs on six hits in eight innings on the mound with four strikeouts to no walks.

“He’s got a lot of experience,” Riordan said. “He’s very smart, he knows a lot about pitching and competing at a really high level. And anytime you have a guy like that, it helps with the younger pitchers that are just coming up from Double-A that don’t have that experience and that knowledge.”

At that point, the only thing that could stop Wiles was himself. And that's exactly what he did.

Aviators pitcher Collin Wiles awaits the signal from behind the plate during a game at Las Vegas Ballpark. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

During a game against Salt Lake in mid July, Wiles was ejected for arguing with third base umpire, Cody Clark.

“I’ve said a lot worse things and not been ejected,” he said with a smile. “At the end of the day, it happened. I probably should’ve just kept my mouth shut and went back to work because I was having another good game that day too.

“Yeah, I wish I didn’t get ejected because I keep track of innings pitched and I was up there in innings pitched. My biggest thing was I went into the all-star break, instead of being first I was third.”

Since then, Wiles made eight starts through August compiling a 1-5 record including going 0-5 in August with a 6.89 ERA. Even with the slumping statistics, Wiles picked up three quality starts in the process while improving that stat to 11 on the year for him.

To that point, Las Vegas had averaged 5.28 runs per game in Wiles’ starts. Yet, in his losses the team averaged 2.15 runs per game.

“No and I won’t [say anything to position players,” Wiles said. “At the end of the day, they’re playing 150 games out of 100 and however many we play. I’ll get to play maybe 30 to 35 starts throughout the year so I have the utmost respect for what position players do.

“Being a pitcher, I can tell you, there’s no way I could do what they do.”

In one September appearance, Wiles got back to his winning ways. He went five full, allowing a run to score on five hits against the Sacramento River Cats.

That outing was enough for Wiles to get the phone call of a lifetime.

“Obviously, the big leagues are the big leagues,” Wiles said in August. “The second I step out of what I’m doing and try to focus up there it takes away from what I do here [in Las Vegas].”

On Sunday, Sept. 11, Wiles was promoted to the Oakland Athletics. That Sunday, the team wrapped up a four-game home series against the Chicago White Sox. Next on the schedule, a road trip to Texas for a date with the Texas Rangers.

Oakland pitcher Collin Wiles poses with family in a big league uniform for the first time. Photo Credit: Shawnee Mission South High School Basketball Twitter page

“Every time they play each other, I would think how cool would it be if I got called up and was able to play against Texas or something like that,” Wiles

said during an August interview. “My biggest thing this year is trying to stay where my feet are and not get too ahead of myself.”

It would only be a two-game series set for the division rivals. Wiles did not hear his name called in the series opener. But he did in the series finale.

While pitching out of the bullpen, Wiles made his major league debut at Globe Life Field in Arlington as an Athletic 10 years after first pitching for the Rangers’ organization.

In his 1 ⅓ inning on the mound, Wiles was tagged for two runs on three hits but he did pick up his first two career major league strikeouts.

Completing the redemption story for Wiles, Oakland came-from-behind to beat Texas, 8-7, after two runs in the ninth inning.

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