Cutters’ Steven Nitch surprises staff by revealing he can pitch
There are a few things many might not know about Steven Nitch.
For starters, he draws inspiration from his friends who make music. And with a little autotune, the Williamsport catcher can sing, too.
Nitch was also named an all-county player his senior year on his high school basketball team back home in Woodland Park, N.J. The 20-year-old is also the first generation on his mother’s side to be born and raised in the United States, having roots in Switzerland and Italy.
What Crosscutters coach Tito Fuentes, Jr. didn’t know, was that Nitch could fill in on the mound when pitching is scarce.
Upon being asked if he could play any other position while players continued to return to college as the season inched closer to the end, Nitch — a 6-foot righty — told Fuentes, Jr. he’s been tossing from Kindergarten up to his final days of high school.
“You pitch?!” Fuentes said that Wednesday afternoon during batting practice.
Nitch looked good in the bullpen. Good enough to step in the following night in relief during the top of the ninth against Mahoning Valley.
Down 6-1 at home against the Scrappers, Williamsport just needed to get through the night. After four previous pitchers, Nitch stepped in and stared down Mahoning Valley’s Zaid Walker at the plate.
His first pitch? A 91 mph fastball. From there, Nitch struck Walker out swinging, added another strikeout after and finished with no hits allowed along with two walks.
It wasn’t his first time in the circle this summer, either.
Before his arrival in Williamsport, Nitch tossed 1.2 innings with the Essex County Cubs of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League. He struck out two and allowed one hit, walking four. With what very limited time he’s spent pitching at the collegiate level, Nitch has shown some promise.
So, why the transition to catcher after a life of pitching thus far?
“It was a projection thing. I projected better as a catcher for pro levels and college ball,” Nitch said of his position change. “I was a left-handed catcher, had a really good arm behind the plate and had a lot of energy … all my coaches thought I’d be better off as a catcher. But the option of being a pitcher was never really off the table, it was just second to catching.”
In his first full season with his new role at the County College of Morris in Randolph, N.J., Nitch posted a .245 batting average with eight RBIs, 12 runs and two homers across 17 games against Division II batters.
With the Cubs earlier this summer, Nitch had a more productive outing, batting .333 with 16 hits and 14 runs.
As he continues to learn and grow at the plate through catching and batting — and stepping in on the mound when needed — Nitch has an added perspective now with his game.
“I take a lot from pitching. Hitting and pitching are kind of similar, so not only do I take it into catching, but I take it into the hitter’s box,” Nitch said. “Getting into certain positions with your body, with your lower half and with your upper half, it translates to both pitching and hitting. Defensively, it’s good to know the mindset of a pitcher. It helps to call a game and be a leader.”