GSA Spotlight: So. Miss’s Nick SandlinGolden Spikes Spotlight
“Hey, what have you heard about Nick Sandlin?”
Out of the all the questions I’ve been asked by scouts throughout the 2018 campaign, this simple question might just lead the way. Before this season, the Southern Miss junior righthander was one of the nation’s premier relievers. He tallied identical 2.38 earned-run averages over the last two seasons, and he struck out 80 batters in just 56.2 innings last season.
He was already a prospect, but he was also 5-foot-11, 170 pounds. Not exactly a physical specimen that scouts dream about.
But this season has been different. Sandlin is no longer just a reliever who comes in and slams the door on teams from a funky slot and angle, and with velocity. He’s now a starting pitcher. Scratch that, he’s now one of the nation’s premier starting pitchers, and there’s a strong case he’s second nationally behind only Auburn righthander Casey Mize, who’s likely to be the top overall pick in the MLB draft.
That’s good company to be in … especially when you’re 5-foot-11, 170.
“I don’t want to say he’d put up the exact same numbers in a league like the SEC, but I’d bet he’d be pretty close,” a National League crosschecker said. “The first time I saw him, I remember walking up to the bullpen and noticing how small he was. He’s really small. But then, you go out there and watch him pitch, and you look up in the seventh inning, and the line score is filled with zeroes.
“I think he’s a tough kid and he’s a grinder,” the scout continued. “I think he’s really confident and he’s a big-time strike-thrower. He doesn’t seem to back down from anyone, and he’s really tough and throws his stuff all over the zone. It’s an extremely uncomfortable at bat for any hitter.”
Those uncomfortable at bats are something that USM pitching coach Christian Ostrander got to experience the last two seasons during his time at Louisiana Tech. He remembers Sandlin well, especially after the hard-nosed righthander tossed 4.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen in a USM sweep over the Bulldogs last season.
So, when he took the USM pitching coach job after Mike Federico went to Louisiana-Monroe, he was curious to see what Sandlin was all about — this time, as his coach.
“Being at Tech the last two years, I gotta feel for him from another spectrum — as a closer. I had an opinion of the guy, and I knew that he he wasn’t scared of competition, and that he loved attacking hitters,” Ostrander said. “I got here over the summer and we built a relationship rather quickly. He’s a very mild-mannered dude and he simply does not get sped up at all.
“He’s extremely confident in his ability to go out there and pitch well,” he continued. “On top of that, he’s a very smart young man. He knows what he needs to do to be successful. He knows when to put juice on the ball, and he has tremendous feel and maturity.”
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