Saturday, May 25, 2024

Nick Nastrini Shows Promise In MLB Debut

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Nick Nastrini entered the 2024 season with the best changeup in the White Sox organization, according to Baseball America. He didn’t take long to show everybody why on Monday night. Nastrini made his much anticipated MLB debut against the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field, after his initially scheduled debut on April 3rd was postponed due to the rainy and snowy Chicago conditions. 

Just one batter into his MLB career, Nastrini was tasked with facing the Royals highest-paid player in franchise history, Bobby Witt Jr. Fifteen of Nastrini’s friends and family watched from a suit as he attacked Witt Jr. with four straight fastballs. After setting him up with a 95 mph heater to even the count at 2-2 Nastrini uncorked an 85.6 mph changeup in the upper inside corner of the strike zone that the Royals shortstop couldn’t resist.  The strikeout marked the first of Nastrini’s MLB career. 

A day earlier Nastrini was in Jacksonville preparing to start a game for the Charlotte Knights. At 9:15 he heard a knock on his door from his Triple-A manager, who told him he had 15 minutes to get downstairs. Nastrini had a flight to Chicago to catch. 

“Just beelined downstairs to the valet area and the next thing I know, I’m here yesterday. It was a quick turnaround,” Nastrini told reporters after the game. 

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The 24-year-old right-hander turned in a solid showing in his first career start, tossing five innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts and two walks. 

He retired the first 11 hitters he faced until Vinnie Pasquantino sent a fastball 421 feet for the first run of the game. In the fifth inning, Nastrini ran into traffic on the basepaths for the first time all night.  Kyle Isabel drove in the Royals’ second run of the game with a soft hit ground ball to left field. Nastrini then loaded the bases with a walk to load the bases for Witt Jr. A seven-pitch battle culminated with Witt Jr hitting a deep fly ball 397 feet that Dominic Fletcher was able to track down on the warning trap to help Nastrini escape the jam. 

That would be the final pitch of the night for Nastrini who needed just 74 to make it through five innings. The White Sox No. 8 prospect threw 48 of those 74 pitches for strikes and generated 11 whiffs. 

“He had command of all his pitches,” Royals manager Matt Quatrato said. “He seemed like he slowed the game down really well. Fastball had good carry, and he was in the mid-90s. Good breaking ball. It was impressive.” 

Unfortunately for Nastrini, he suffered the loss in his debut after the White Sox offense failed to score for the sixth time this season. But it didn’t dampen the mood of his family and friends who held up signs and cheered him on throughout the evening. 

Nastrini figures to be in the rotation the rest of the season, but nothing is guaranteed, as Mike Clevinger continues to work his way back. He will look to build off his impressive debut in his next scheduled start against the Minnesota Twins.

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