Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dean Wilkins, Moved Up - 84

Mitch Williams hit a home run and finished off the game for the save. After that September 1989 game, though, in comments to The Associated Press, Williams pointed to the effort of another Cubs hurler: Dean Wilkins.

"I wasn't the hero," Williams told The AP. "Dean Wilkins was the hero. He went through the middle of their lineup."

Wilkins went two innings in relief, struck out two and gave up a single hit. He also picked up the win as the Cubs closed in on the division title.

Wilkins didn't get to pitch for the Cubs in the playoffs that year, but he did get to pitch in each of the next two seasons.

Wilkins' career began in 1986, taken by the Yankees in the second round of the January draft out of San Diego Mesa College.

With the Yankees, Wilkins played that first year at short-season Oneonta, going 9-0 in 12 starts. He moved to single-A Fort Lauderdale in 1987, getting to games at AA Albany-Colonie. Then, in July, he was traded to the Cubs in the deal that sent Steve Trout to the Yankees.

Years later, Wilkins pointed to that trade as leading to his later success.

"When I left the Yankees, I got a good opportunity to move up," Wilkins told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in spring 1992. "I pitched in the big leagues two seasons later. I don't if that happens with the Yankees."

With the Cubs, Wilkins played out 1987 at single-A Winston-Salem. He made AA Pittsfield in 1988 and then AAA Iowa in 1989. At Pittsfield, Wilkins saved 26 games. At Iowa, Wilkins split time as a starter. He went 8-11, with a 4.24 ERA.

Called up to Chicago in August, Wilkins got into 11 total games. And he got that win. Coming back for 1990, Wilkins got into seven more games for the Cubs, 7.1 innings.

For 1991, Wilkins moved to the Astros, taken in the Rule 5 draft. He played most of the year at AAA Tucson. But he got seven final games in the majors. He went 2-1, all in relief. He also picked up a save, one of two he got in the majors.

At Tucson, though, Wilkins picked up 21 saves on the season, short of the league record of 26. At the end of June, Wilkins had 17 saves, and he looked on pace to break the league mark, The Houston Chronicle wrote.

"I've just been trying to work my way back to the big leagues," Wilkins told The Chronicle before his July call-up. "I started off well and I'm trying to put as much pressure for them to bring me back up and help the team up there."

 Wilkins played two more seasons, with the Padres and Brewers systems in 1992 and at independent San Bernardino in 1993, ending his career.
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Featured:
752/880 - 85.5%
Players/Coaches Featured:
763
Made the Majors:
516 - 68%-X
Never Made the Majors:
247-32%

5+ Seasons in the Majors:
226
10+ Seasons in the Minors:
145

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