CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – An uptick in confidence helped pitcher Nolan Bastendorff really take off for the Crater Comets last year. It was an uptick in confidence despite an uptick in velocity, but Bastendorff refused to let his average fastball hold him back.
“I really think he was maturing,” Crater head coach Jay Campbell said, “and at the end of the year he was really coming around.”
He carried that into the summer where he led the Grants Pass Nuggets with a 10-0 record and a 2nd place finish in the American Legion State Championship.
“I feel like last summer definitely gave me the confidence to carry over into this season to know that my stuff is good,” Bastendorff said.
His stuff is good, really good for a high school hurler, but you have to go back to his sophomore year to understand where it really took off. Promoted to varsity after playing freshman ball, Bastendorff soon realized his “stuff” had limitations.
“I thought I was a power thrower then, and I threw the ball past some guys,” Bastendorff said, “but once I came up to varsity, it kind of set in and I was like, ‘No, I can’t put the ball past these guys.’”
But rather than dwell on his lower velocity, he spun the negative into a positive, learning to find more movement on his pitches and locate better.
“He can throw all three pitches for strikes in location,” Campbell said, “and if you can do that as a high school pitcher, you’re going to be very successful.”
And Campbell expects a lot of success from Bastendorff this season. High school hitters generally struggle with a pitcher that has command of his pitches, but college hitters are more capable, which brings into question whether Bastendorff will have success at the next level.
“I’m confident that I have the ability that they do,” Bastendorff said.”I just don’t throw as hard as they do, which is frustrating because I know that coaches want faster pitching.”
“A fastball is obviously a big pitch, and you want to be able to have that,” Campbell said, “but if I had my choice of taking somebody that throws hard but doesn’t know where it’s going or somebody that can locate with three pitches, I’ll take the guy that can locate.”
Unfortunately for the Crater senior, college coaches typically want a pitcher that throws in the 90′s. Bastendorff’s fastball sits in the low 80′s, but he has room to grow both in velocity and stature.
“If I had a little more weight, I’d probably throw a little harder,” Bastendorff said.
“His best years are ahead of him really,” Campbell said. “With his frame, he’s going to put on 20 pounds, and that’s going to really bring up his fastball. There’s no question that he’ll be able to be successful in college.”