OXFORD, Ohio — Nate Stolze needs a hand. Or a glove rather. His bullpen mate today has popped the laces on the Miami catcher’s mitt. It’s easy to do when you throw 100 miles per hour like Sam Bachman does.
The 20 or so baseball scouts, scouting directors and cross checkers are flocking to Oxford like never before. The junior right-hander is set to become the first Miami player to be selected in the first round of the 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
“I try to put my head and work. That’s what I’ve done when I receive attention,” Bachman said. “It’s important to get out of the spotlight and combine all my goals into one. There are a lot of scouts in the stands, pointing their guns down. You still have to win. Rather than trying to impress another team. Worrying about your stock, and the draft and everything, I concentrate on winning. Winning takes care of everything.”
The attention is still new to Bachman. He wasn’t even the best pitching prospect on his high school team at Hamilton Southeastern in Fishers, Indiana. Bachman was just a thrower then, touching 91 with his fastball. In the three years since, he’s learned to pitch.
“Never thought it’d be like this, was always an overlooked guy,” Bachman said. “The last one to pitch for my summer league team in the least important games. Was watching the other guys do that, watching others have great success. Took it on myself; that freshman year (at Miami) was a clean slate. Went full-throttle with it.”
Just this season, he’s struck out 43 hitters in 26 innings pitched, including a perfect effort against Northern Illinois when he retired all nine batters faced with strikeouts.
It’s not just his fastball that has him projected in the top half of the first round of the draft. His slider is a 90-mph wipeout weapon, and his change-up has drawn comparisons to the Reds’ Luis Castillo, arguably the owner of the best “cambio” currently in the majors.
“Luckily no one else (foresaw) either; that’s why he’s at Miami and not at Vanderbilt,” Matthew Passuer, Miami’s pitching coach said.
“The staff (at Miami) is really invested, and the campus facilities are amazing. What a perfect place to get better,” Bachman said.
Sam invested in his body beginning as a freshman at Miami. His parents’ investments –- time and money –- came beforehand.
“I remember putting him in a showcase that cost $275, and he threw nine pitches,” said Bachman's father, Kevin. “Looking back, it was worth it. It was tough times back then.”
Kevin helped Sam dream big. His mother Suzanne did, too. She helps keep him grounded away from the game, as well.
“When he comes home, we talk some about (baseball), but not much,” Suzanne Bachman said.
She may not know all the ins and out of baseball, but as an acute and urgent care nurse practitioner, she knows tendons.
“One hundred miles per hour, the ligament and the tendons. I start thinking. Not a lot supporting that arm when it’s swinging like that,” she said. "We make sure he gets a good diet and vitamins and supplements for inflammatory.”
“I feed off adrenaline, hitting such high numbers with the fastball," Sam Bachman said. "It’s 0-2, try to hit this, the ad is shooting up, throw the crap out of it. It’s going to be right there for you and you’re not going to touch it.”
Brian Hiler, who’s worn several hats in baseball –- at Midland, as a scout with the Royals, director of player development at Vanderbilt and now as an advisor at Icon -- believes Bachman is in the high-speed lane to the majors.
“This would come across as crazy to most, but I don’t think it’ll take very long in the minor leagues,” said Hiler, who’s helped 70 amateurs reach the majors in his career. “He may be able to help a major league club this year.”
For now, Bachman has to help his catcher with his glove.