Baseball: Southland Vikings’ Brandon White a quick study on the mound
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media July 22, 2014 4:02PM
Brandon White, of the Southland Vikings, delivers a pitch against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at Oil City Stadium, Thursday, June 12th, 2014, in Whiting | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 24, 2014 6:35AM
Brandon White had to sit back and take a good look at his baseball future.
Would he have more success as a slick-fielding shortstop who struggled at the plate? Or was it time to make a switch?
“I was always pretty good defensively, but I wasn’t great at hitting,” White said. “I was talking to coaches, and they said it might be best for me to be a pitcher.”
So faced with a difficult decision, White made the jump, moving from the middle infield to the mound. The transition is an ongoing development, but it definitely is one with potential for the future.
The Harlan High School grad has developed into the Southland Vikings’ ace this season. He recently announced he’ll attend South Suburban College.
What some have done for years on the pitching mound, White quickly has picked up. He started with the basics.
“I had to learn so much,” White said. “I worked a lot on my off-speed pitches, and it was just learning all the little things. It’s a different kind of working.”
White joined the Vikings in 2013 near midseason, playing a key role in Southland’s road to the Midwest Collegiate League championship.
“Brandon definitely doesn’t look like a guy who started pitching less than 24 months ago,” Vikings manager Chris Cunningham said. “He looks the part, he takes it seriously and he works at his craft. He doesn’t sit back and let it come to him.”
White’s transition to the mound caught the attention of major league scouts. The 6-foot-3 righty got some feelers in June before the recent major league draft.
The draft came and went, though with no calls. Disappointed? Yes, but White wasn’t going to pout.
“I was hoping to get picked up, and it was pretty tough to swallow,” White said. “I kept on attacking hitters (since), pitching to contact and letting the defense make some plays.”
After Tuesday’s game at Joliet, Southland has five regular season games remaining with the No. 1 seed for the playoffs still very much up for grabs.
White likes where the team sits and is hoping it can ride into the playoffs with some momentum.
“I like my teammates, like our chemistry,” White said. “We joke around, but we lift each other up and we stay focused.”
Cunningham, for one, is glad to have White on his side.
“Brandon is the kind of guy you want on the mound,” Cunningham said. “He’s a pitcher you want in the big game.”