Suns pitcher Jamin McCann has settled in as the team’s ace
PITTSFIELD -- Jamin McCann is certainly making the most of his first trip north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
"The farthest north I think I’ve ever been has been Virginia," said the Pittsfield Suns pitcher.
The left-handed pitcher has stated his case as the ace of the Suns.
Through Monday’s games, McCann was one of five starters in the Futures League with undefeated marks. McCann was 4-0 with one no-decision in five starts. His 1.93 earned-run average was fifth in the league and he was tied for the league lead with 37 1/3 innings pitched.
The East Tennessee State product had only one outing that would not be considered outstanding -- a two-inning relief stint in a June 11 game against Worcester. He gave up two earned runs on five hits in two innings.
In McCann’s most recent start, he held Wachusett to a run on eight hits in 8 1/3 innings back on July 5.
"Jamin has clearly been our ace," Suns manager Tom Conley said. "Every time he gets the ball, we have a chance to win. I think the guys know that too, so it takes a lot of pressure off our hitters."
In fact, the Suns were 6-0 in games McCann pitched in. In his five starts, the only no-decision came on June 12, when he gave up an unearned run on three hits in six innings against Martha’s Vineyard. It was a game the Suns won on a walkoff single by Dan Palazzo in the bottom of the ninth inning.
McCann admits when asked that he’s "kind of surprised" and did not expect being perfect heading into the second month of the Futures League season.
"No definitely not," he said. "I never really expected to be doing this good. But I’ll keep giving it my all. That loss will come somewhere. I’m not sure where."
McCann finished his freshman year at East Tennessee State and was second on the team with 12 starts. He finished 5-4 with a 4.78 ERA for a Buccaneers team that was 27-30.
East Tennessee just finished a tenure in the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference and will move to the D-I Southern Conference in the fall. McCann said that pitching to the players in the Futures League has been similar to pitching against conference foes.
"It’s not too different. I know up here there are a lot of freshmen or upcoming sophomores or juniors so they’re a little bit younger. There aren’t as many old guys," he said. "There’s a lot of good competition."
The left-hander uses a fastball, curve and change, and said his two-seam fastball has been his best pitch for the Suns. He described it almost like a sinker and his curve has been "sharp."
In his 37 1/3 innings of work, McCann has only struck out 24 batters while walking 13. That means the pitcher is fairly efficient with his pitches, and that helps the rest of the Pittsfield players in the lineup.
"The fielders are into it. He has a good pace. They want to make plays for him," said Conley. "They know he’s going to be throwing strikes. He’s pretty much a contact pitcher.
"It’s nice because we’ve been trying to stress, especially from last year, that hitters have wood bats. They don’t know how to use them as much as the BBCOR [bats], so throw the ball in the zone."
McCann and reliever Austin Salinitis are the only lefties on the Suns’ pitching staff. And McCann is not a guy who will touch the mid-90s on a radar gun.
"I definitely don’t throw as hard as a lot of the guys. I try to use my movement and my accuracy to my advantage," he said.
College baseball players are fully involved in the sport during their season, but that usually means a lot of practice and weekend games. That has been the biggest adjustment for McCann.
"Playing every day is just so hard to get used to," he said. "We’re used to playing a couple of times in the week and then on the weekends.
"No class, that’s the best part."
To reach Howard Herman:
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On Twitter: @howardherman.
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