/Off the charts USM ace Nick Sandlin has been all that and more

Off the charts USM ace Nick Sandlin has been all that and more

His record is perfect at 6-0. His earned run average, which is the average number of runs he allows per nine innings, is a miserable 1.0. In 63 innings, he has only allowed 32 hits. He is only hitting.148 against the opposition. Then there’s this: He has only walked eight batters in 63 innings. He has struck out a staggering 97 batters. This 97/8 strikeout/walk ratio, is simply amazing. These eyes have been following college baseball for over 50 years and have never seen anything like it. Corky Palmer, a retired coach at Southern Miss, has been a baseball fan for 64 years and has never seen anything quite like it. Palmer recently stated that Sandlin is the best player we have had, and as good as any other player. He has so much movement in his pitches. It sometimes looks like he’s throwing Wiffle balls up there.” Ron Polk, Mississippi State’s legendary baseball coach, is now a volunteer assistant at UAB. He has coached seven pitchers who were draft picks in the first round and none had a strikeout/walk ratio comparable to Sandlin’s. Polk, by the side, was the coach of Sandlin in the elite Cape Cod League last summer. Polk described Sandlin as “Nick” – “Nick is not only a great pitcher, athlete, but he’s also a great kid.” He won’t likely go very high in the draft due to his size, but someone is going to get him a great player. He would be a Class AA winner right now. He’s a pitcher.” Sandlin looks more like Clark Kent than Superman. He is 5′ 11″ tall and 170 lbs. He’s five inches shorter than the Major League Scouts want and about 40 to 50 pounds lighter than they are. These numbers, which he cannot control, probably mean that Polk is correct and Sandlin won’t be an early pick in the MLB draft. Sandlin is a smart man who is an honors student in construction engineering technology. He said, “I don’t worry about the things I can’t control.” Sandlin’s small stature is a concern because he cannot withstand the force required to throw a fastball at 94 mph. Sandlin, a Georgian, was injured in the throwing shoulder and missed two starts this season. MRIs revealed no structural damage, and Sandlin has not given up a run since. He has also struck out 22 batters over the 14 innings. Maybe scouts need to be reminded of Greg Maddux’s 355 Major League wins at 6’170. Sandlin is capable of controlling a baseball. Sandlin can throw it at 94 mph and make it dance from many angles. He can throw it down to the sidearm and even lower. He can throw over the top. From these angles, he can throw three pitches: a fastball, a slider, and a change up. All three pitches can be changed at different speeds. The breaking pitch, a filthy slider, is a devastating pitch that breaks the hearts of batters. Jake Mangum from State, an under-sized player, was Sandlin’s teammate in the Cape Cod League’s last year. Mangum was questioned about Sandlin after USM and Sandlin beat State 11-0 in February’s season opener. Mangum stated that Nick is mentally so strong. He doesn’t shy away from any situation. He’s tough. He throws three pitches for strikes, from many different arm slots, and was hitting 93 with the gun. He’s exceptional.” USM coach Scott Berry said that Sandlin’s game is heavily influenced by deception. Berry states that Sandlin’s arm speed is the same regardless of what he throws and from what angle. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the fastball or the slider. It’s the same. It looks the same. Sandlin was an All American freshman and made several All America team as a sophomore. USM lost Taylor Braley and Kirk McCarty, their starters, in the MLB draft last year. Then, Colt Smith, who was the weekend starter, was injured. Berry and Christian Ostrander, the new pitching coach, decided to make Sandlin the Friday night starter. It has been a remarkable result, so much so that some teams saved their Friday night ace to avoid losing him against Sandlin. The first-place Golden Eagles are ranked No. 32-12 with Sandlin as their leader. Sandlin leads the way with a 32-12 and a No. Sandlin stated, “We’re playing great baseball and peaking at just the right time.” It’s easier when your Friday night guy plays automatically.