Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dominant BlueClaws All-Star Nick Fanti has focused, humble approach

Nick Fanti, image- Jay Floyd
Lefty hurler Nick Fanti will represent the Phillies organization as the Northern Division's starting pitcher in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday night. 

Through 11 games with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws this year, the 20-year-old has tallied a 5-0 record and a 2.25 ERA with a .182 batting average against while striking out 65 and walking 16 in 64 innings of work. 

Fanti, who pitched with Team Italy in this year's World Baseball Classic, grabbed headlines in May when he tossed 8 2/3 hitless innings for Lakewood on the road at Columbia.  His room mate Trevor Bettencourt would log the final out to seal the no-hitter. 

The six-foot-two 185-pound Fanti will return to the Spirit Communication Park mound in Columbia for the Sally League All-Star Game. 

Last year in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, he garnered plenty of attention, sporting a 7-0 record with a 1.57 ERA and a .191 batting average against in 11 appearances.

His skipper, former big leaguer Marty Malloy, feels Fanti is deserving of all the accolades he has gotten.

"He's been unbelievable," Malloy stated in the Lakewood home dugout last week.  "The command of the strike zone has been very good.  Mixed his pitches well and he has an idea.  He's another young kid that, probably pitching wise, he's above his years and how he handles hitters in certain situations, so he's done a really nice job."

Fanti doesn't overpower hitters, slinging a fastball that regularly ranges 87-89 MPH with a change up that features a fair variance in velocity from the heater (around 80).  But, his curveball is described as nasty and leaves the opposition looking foolish, as it's difficult to pick up, looking much like his fastball to batters out of his hand.

Brazen and fearless, the Long Island native virtually dares batters to hit his pitches whenever he takes the mound.

"I want to make the guys behind me work," Fanti explained, describing his desire for the opposition to try and hit what he offers.  "I prefer them to hit earlier in the count than later, but that's why I attack the zone, because I have trust in the people behind me and I'll be able to go deeper in the games if they make contact earlier, so getting ahead with early strikes is definitely very important to me."

The youngster dishes out credit to the team surrounding him for his success, including the no-hitter, asserting that the defense and some luck helped things go his way.

With a relaxed and focused approach, Fanti is self-driven.  His 31st round draft position from 2015 is not a factor when looking for motivators on the diamond.

"Regardless of where you got picked, you've still got to come in here and play.  Not that I feel like I have anything to prove or anything-- I do, but I feel like anybody should, no matter where you were drafted," Fanti stated.

On the Northern Division All-Star roster, he'll be joined by five BlueClaws teammates with Bettencourt earning a nod along with battery mate Edgar Cabral and pitchers Will Hibbs, JoJo Romero and Ranger Suarez also being honored.

Fanti values the opportunity to show what BlueClaws and the Phillies are all about.

"It's really cool.  It's a real honor to be able to pitch with the best guys in this league and, hopefully, I'll he throwing to Cabral in the beginning of the game and I'm just excited for the experience."
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