Miami pitcher could go in first round of MLB Draft with eye-opening fastball

Miami right-hander Sam Bachman is projected to be a first-round pick in this summer's MLB Draft. Miami University Photo
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Miami right-hander Sam Bachman is projected to be a first-round pick in this summer's MLB Draft. Miami University Photo

Steve Baker has been close to Miami sports for close to 40 years, and he’s never seen a baseball player generate the cicada-like level of buzz like Sam Bachman.

In fact, few RedHawk athletes in any sport have garnered as much attention as the baseball right-hander.

“I can’t remember any baseball player with as much “buzz” before Bachman,” said Baker, a Miami assistant athletic director and the director of broadcasting. “Adam Eaton, most recently, didn’t have as much, but turns out he didn’t need it.

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“In terms of all sports, certainly not as much since Ben Roethlisberger has a potential pro garnered as much attention. I can’t remember anyone since Ben Roethlisberger gathering as much attention in terms of scouts and media at games.”

Roethlisberger, of course, was the football quarterback who set several Miami football records before being picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2004 National Football League draft.

Bachman, 21, went into a weekend Mid-American Conference series at Ohio University with a 2-2 record and 1.66 earned-run average in eight starts for the RedHawks, who were 19-20 overall and 12-13 in the conference.

Bachman’s record wasn’t what was drawing media members and Major League Baseball scouts in double-digit numbers to his games. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound junior from Fishers, Ind., northwest of Indianapolis, has matured from a high school thrower who reached 91 miles per hour with his fastball into a pitcher who regularly hits 94-97 and has touched 101. Miami pitching coach Matthew Passauer has helped him add more velocity to his slider, pushing it to the mid- to upper-80s with a sharper bite. He’s also mixing in a mid-80s changeup.

The combination had produced 60 strikeouts in his first 38 innings, an average of 14.2 per nine innings. He also had improved his control to the level where he was allowing an average of 3.08 walks per nine innings, down from 4.1 over his first two collegiate seasons and helping lead to him being projected as a first-round pick in the MLB draft, which is scheduled to get under way on July 11. He was 14th on the most recent MLB Prospect Ranking list and Prospectslive.com projects him as an early to mid-first round pick.

Sam Bachman, Miami baseball
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Sam Bachman, Miami baseball

“It’s cool to see what people think in general, but I take it with a grain of salt,” Bachman said by phone on Thursday while hanging out in his apartment waiting to board the bus to Athens. “It gives me confidence. It lights a fire and keeps me moving forward.”

“Sam continues to fine-tune his arsenal each year,” Passauer said on MiamiRedHawks.com. “Early on, it was mostly about controlling his pitches and getting his stuff into the zone consistently. Sam has since gained a feel for both sides of the plate with the fastball along with control of a sharpened-up slider and change-up. He has done a tremendous job adding to the ways he can attack a batter and a lineup.”

Bachman was lightly recruited out of Hamilton Southeastern High School but still talented enough to go 7-1 with a 3.93 ERA on his way to be named first-team All-MAC as a freshman. When the pandemic shut down spring college sports, Bachman worked on his development at PRP Baseball in Noblesville, Ind., before playing in Westfield, Ind.’s, wooden bat Grand Park Summer League.

“After my first season, I knew I had so much to work on,” Bachman said. “I didn’t see myself being where and what I am now. When the season was cut short, a lot of the guys took vacation and took some time off. I wanted to see if I could get my fastball up to 96-97 and cut my body fat. I thought, ‘What if I could cut some fat and keep the same muscle mass.’ I also wanted to clean up my lower mass mechanics.

“I was focused on coming out with my hair on file this spring.”

“Sam is such a special guy,” Miami coach Danny Hayden told MiamiRedHawks.com. “He was blessed with tremendous talent, but what makes him special is his work ethic. Plenty of guys with Sam’s ability are playing college baseball right now, and they are not receiving the kind of recognition Sam is. That is because Sam has continued to work every day. Every day he shows up ready and willing to work and compete and develop.”

Bachman’s work has paid off in scouts being so attentive that they show up for RedHawks’ games in time to watch him warm up. He faces a forest of radar guns every time he pitches, but he feels like he’s been able to stay grounded.

“The first couple of times, it wasn’t overwhelming, but you definitely notice them watching your pregame (bullpen),” he said. “It’s not as different any more. They just kind of blend in and evaluate, like mom and dad. I feel like I can check myself. I’m a pretty humble guy. I feel like I can keep myself grounded, but if I didn’t, I’m sure my teammates would.”

“With all this recognition, I promise you it will only do one thing for Sam,” Hayden said. “It will inspire his next workout to be his best workout. That is how Sam is. As a coach, it is cool when your best players are your hardest workers. We’ve got a bunch of really hard workers, and Sam is one of the guys that set that tone for us.”

According to baseball-almanac.com, Miami has produced 24 major league players, including long-time Dodgers manager Walter Alston, infielder Billy Doran and current White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and pitchers Brooks Lawrence, Jack Baldschun, Charlie Leibrandt, Bill Earley and Bill Long. If projections hold, Bachman would be the RedHawks’ first first-round pick. His current No. 14 ranking by MLB puts him in the neighborhood of the Cincinnati Reds, who have the 16th pick.

“I don’t have a particular team that I’d like to go to,” he said. “It depends on what the situation comes down to. Growing up, we followed the Reds. My dad had them on the TV all the time. That would be cool.”