One of the Wingnuts' most notable reclamation projects is Will Savage, who pitched for the team in 2008.
Savage came to Wichita after three seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, during which he made 70 relief appearances and zero starts.
He wanted a chance to be a starting pitcher and got one with the Wingnuts. That season he threw a no-hitter and he was an important part of a rotation that led the league in ERA. Now he's 5-1 in Double-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Independent baseball makes a story like Savage's possible. Many pitchers who weren't starters in affiliated baseball get the chance to join a starting rotation and can revive their careers. Former reliever Ryan Hinson is pitching well for the 2011 Wingnuts.
"I would say it's more (common) than being rare," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "It's just about opportunity, I think. Right place, right time, as it is a lot in this game with a lot of things."
Many pitchers who make the switch from the bullpen to the rotation in independent baseball, and specifically with the Wingnuts, have made the opposite switch at least once before.
When Hooper is evaluating whether a relief pitcher can seamlessly transition to starting, he considers several factors, including whether the pitcher has starting experience. Usually, he does, whether it's in affiliated ball or in college.
"A lot of times you'll get a guy who wants you to give him a chance as a starter," Hooper said. "Then it's a matter of if it's a fit for us, do we have room to even give him a chance to start. Then, on top of all of it, you do your research. You talk to the people he's thrown for and figure out if he has a chance to be a quality starter."
The other facets of Hooper's evaluation process include determining a pitcher's makeup and durability. Some pitchers are more suited for the bullpen because they rarely throw more than an inning at a time and couldn't handle the extreme innings increase that comes with starting.
Others don't have the mentality of a reliever, which involves being ready to pitch every day on a moment's notice. Some pitchers find comfort in the routine of being a starter, when they can pattern the five days leading up to and including their start.
Hinson prepares diligently on the days he doesn't start so he can approach the day he pitches with a calm mind.
"It's really just hard work, getting my work in every four days and on the fifth day trying to be the easiest day of the five days," Hinson said. "I'm confident in my stuff and work hard on what I need to work hard on throughout the week."
Trent Lare began the season in the Wingnuts' rotation but had little success and was moved back to the bullpen, where he spent most of his time in the New York Yankees organization last season.
Lare was hit hardest after the first time through the order. He's set up for more success in the bullpen because he usually won't have to face any hitter more than once per game.
The responsibility of Hooper and pitching coach Luke Robertson is to monitor the innings of a pitcher who moves from relieving to starting.
Pitchers can and usually do wear down when making a significant jump in innings, so Hooper and Robertson keep pitch counts as low as possible early in the season and continue to track them.
"You've got to be cautious," Hooper said. "Luke and I are pretty much on the same page. We limit these guys on pitch counts quite a bit to start the season. Their first start we want them to be around 75, then 90, then 100, then we do our best to keep them around 100 each time out. It's a long season, and we've got to take care of these guys."