Watching film in his basement, something he has done for countless hours as a coach’s son, Jared Winslow can remember the pitch sequences he threw in a game last summer. Picked from stacks of recorded basketball, baseball and football games, Winslow correctly recalls striking out an opposing Lewiston Cub on a filthy circle changeup.
The most decorated Libby athlete of the last four years has reached the end of his prep career. An All-State point guard, quarterback and pitcher, Winslow fielded scholarship offers in three sports before accepting a baseball offer from Montana State University-Billings. Blessed with a powerful right arm he flexes on the football field and baseball diamond, and area-code sized shooting range on the hardwood, Winslow’s greatest strength, his mind, becomes apparent during film study.
“He has a very high sports intelligence,” Libby Loggers American Legion baseball Coach Kelly Morford said. “He grasped the concept of putting his fastball for both strikes and balls pretty quickly. That’s not easy to do.”
Watching with his father, Wally Winslow, the two chat back and forth about the intricacies of the game. Jared’s mom, Cami, doubles as family videographer, and her boys watch every game she records, twice.
“If it’s a home game, we watch it that night,” Wally Winslow, who also served as his son’s basketball coach at Libby High School, said. “If it is an away game, we watch it the next morning. It’s quality time for us together.”
That analytic, observant approach to sports molded the high school senior into a refined athlete. Watching basketball film, Jared Winslow talks about his feet, saying he prefers to shoot with his right foot slightly ahead of his left. Numerous times father and son comment on plays several seconds before they occur on the screen, Wally chiding his son for lapses in fundamentals, Jared chirping back about the genes his father passed on. Watching a game against Frenchtown, Wally turns up the volume to reveal a longtime Broncs fan yelling “No way,” as Jared hoists one of his long-range three-pointers.
“That’s Jimmer there,” Wally Winslow said, referring to former Brigham Young University standout Jimmer Fredette.
The ball goes in and the Winslows share a laugh at the disbelieving fan’s frustration.
“The deep three is my version of a Top 10 play,” Jared Winslow said.
Winslow is a bulldog on the mound who models his expedient pitching style after former Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee. He winds up with an elbow-high leg kick and drives to the plate with a low, compact motion, something he spent years developing.
Winslow considers that game against Lewiston, a shutout win, the best game he ever pitched. It was also the last game he threw with a healthy arm.
Winslow tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) during his next start, a 14-strikeout masterpiece in Miles City at the Class A American Legion tournament. The injury will require Tommy John surgery, a procedure many young pitchers come back from stronger than ever after 12 to 15 months of grueling rehabilitation.
Medical implications aside, Winslow displayed his mental grit one week after tearing his UCL when he tossed a complete game victory against the Glacier Twins.
“I was topping out at 82 mph,” Winslow, whose fastball normally reaches 88 mph, said. “I just threw a lot of two-seam fastballs and changeups. After that we got the MRI.”
Winslow will go under Spokane orthopedic surgeon Russell VanderWilde’s knife April 4. Winslow’s parents picked VanderWilde after recommendations from both the Gonzaga University and Washington State University athletic departments.
The down time will be strange for the Winslow family.
“Anytime there is a surgical procedure it is kind of scary,” Wally Winslow said. “We’re going to miss watching him compete.”
If track record is any indication, Jared Winslow should return to form just fine. For a heralded athlete, he is more of a Cadillac than Ferrari. At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Winslow has never dunked. He recorded all of one block in his high school basketball career. He runs a 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and maxes out at about 205 pounds on the bench press. Much of the young man’s athletic ability can be traced back to his powerful lower half and the vision, honed through hours of film study, to see holes before they open.
“A lot of kids avoid the squat rack because it hurts their shoulders, but I like it,” Winslow said.
Conversations with Winslow’s coaches all take a similar turn to an important point: No one outworks Jared Winslow.
“He is always positive, which makes him a joy to coach,” Neil Fuller, Libby High’s football coach, said. “Even in games when we were missing starters, I know we had a shot to win because he can make so many things happen with his feet.”
Although Winslow will pursue baseball collegiately, Fuller believes he has the physical tools to play football in the Big Sky Conference.
“The things people forget about coaches kids is how much time they spend practicing and in the weight room,” Morford said. “He’s been a gym rat his whole life. That’s what success is all about.”
Morford said he may have coached one or two kids who were better hitters or fielders — Winslow plays shortstop when not pitching — but never a more dominant pitcher. Winslow recorded a 0.59 ERA last season with 132 strikeouts and 14 walks in 76 innings pitched last season.
“We’ve never had a better all-around player,” Morford said.
It is hard to tell if Winslow realizes how much he speaks like a coach. He will say things like, “We’re only losing two seniors next year,” as if he is not talking about himself. He is the full realization of a coach’s kid, but that is largely by choice. He is an athlete driven by a hatred for losing. Every defeat felt like he let his school down.
“We used to spend hours doing ‘Ichiros’ on the baseball field,” Wally Winslow said, referencing former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. “I’d hit balls to his left, then his right, close to the wall for him to go up and grab.”
When he was younger and his dad would host film sessions with the high school basketball team, Jared would beg the teenagers to shoot hoops with him. He didn’t like it when his dad made him shoot left-handed layups, but he figured it out pretty quickly.
“He is the prototypical Libby Logger,” Libby High Athletic Director Jim Germany said. “He is the poster child as far as lifestyle we want in our kids. His work ethic is second to none. It’s not that his dad is a coach, he has great internal drive. He builds teams up around him.”
Coaches say Winslow’s leadership style is largely by example, and while he will be on the mend instead of the mound this summer, not much will change.
“It says a lot about Jared that he wants to be around his teammates as he recovers,” Morford said. “It’s a testament to how he was raised that his teammates look to him as an example of how to be as a young man and a student athlete. We’re going to miss him.”