In a minor league season that’s already seen two perfect games and two teams throw nine hitless innings in tie games, low Class A Lakewood (Phillies) lefthander Nick Fanti helped add to the tally with 8.2 innings in his team’s no-hitter against Columbia (Mets) on Saturday night.
Fanti didn’t feel like he had dominant stuff coming out of the bullpen before the game, but he quickly shook off that feeling and got back to throwing strike after strike as usual.
“When I was warming up I didn’t feel too good. I wasn’t really around the plate,” he said. “It’s weird, because the game just brought a different focus out of me and I was able to just bear down and attack the zone.”
To achieve that focus once the game started, Fanti relied on a trick he’s been using since attending a camp in Florida as a kid.
“(My coach) always said ‘Keep the promise, keep the promise,’ and the promise was to always hustle, stay positive and keep a good attitude while you’re playing,” he said. “I always write that in the ground (before starts) and then I get on the mound and do my thing.”
After Fanti walked Columbia’s Luis Carpio with two outs in the ninth, Lakewood manager Marty Malloy decided 113 pitches was enough and summoned righthander Trevor Bettencourt from his bullpen for the final out. Bettencourt whiffed Michael Paez to finish the no-hitter.
“I have trust in what these guys are doing,” said Fanti, who pitched for Team Italy in this year’s World Baseball Classic, regarding the team’s decision to go to Bettencourt late in the game. “My pitch count was getting up there, and there was not only a no-hitter on the line, but the game was also on the line. It was a 1-0 game with guys on first and second and you’d rather have a fresh arm in there to get the last out.”
Fanti, the Phillies 31st-round selection in 2015 out of Hauppauge High in Smithtown, N.Y., dominated in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last season. He struck out a league-best 67 in 51.2 innings, and his 1.57 ERA was second only to teammate (who pitches on Sunday for Lakewood) Sixto Sanchez and his 0.50 mark.
Fanti’s stuff isn’t overpowering–his fastball sits in the upper-80s and might brush 90 on a good day, and his changeup and curveball are fringe-average. Despite that, he just keeps getting outs. After Saturday’s gem, he’s 2-0, 1.48 with 31 strikeouts against 10 walks in 30.1 innings with Lakewood.
“I think it’s just the ability to throw strikes,” Fanti said, explaining how he believes he’s been able to dominate so regularly as a professional. “I know I’m here for a reason, and if I attack the zone I’m going to get guys out.”