After years of hard knocks, Nading finds success with Wingnuts

August 11, 2016

Chad Nading baseball

Chad Nading

Chad Nading of Anchorage hasn’t been involved in a playoff race in years.
The 28-year-old relief pitcher now finds himself right in the middle of one in the American Association, an independent professional baseball league that plays 100 games in the regular season.

With 24 to play, the Wichita Wingnuts lead the Laredo Lemurs by 5.5 games.

“This is the best group of guys I’ve played with in professional baseball and manager Pete Rose Jr. is the ultimate player’s coach and makes baseball free and easy every day,” he told me.

Nading, of East High fame, has pitched six times in the last eight days. No more evidence is needed to prove how valuable this guy is to Wichita’s bullpen.

The 6-foot-6 flamethrower has pitched in each of the last three days, including tonight’s one-out hold to end the eighth inning in a 9-7 win over the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

“My velocity has been 93-97 mph with slider, curveball and changeup,” he said.

Nading has appeared in a career-high 30 games on the year, carding a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings.

Few people would have stuck with a sport like Nading did with baseball, which hasn’t always treated the Alaska ace well.

Early on, though, the game came easy.

At East, he was a two-time Cook Inlet Conference MVP in 2006 and 2005. With East Legion Post 34 he won a state title all four years he played and was named the State Tournament MVP and Top Pitcher award winner in 2006.

He was drafted in the 36th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2006, but opted to play college baseball. He signed with Oregon State but wound up pitching at Skagit Valley Community College. After one season he transferred to UNLV, where he pitched for two years and then was drafted in the 37th round by the Texas Rangers in 2009.

In 2010, he started his pro career in rookie ball with the San Diego Padres organization.

He bounced around independent leagues in 2011 and 2012.

In 2013, Nading participated in extended spring training with the Boston Red Sox.

In 2014, he went to Japan and played with the Ishikawa Million Stars.

He didn’t play last year.

“I have to tell you the last two years have been a real test for me as a baseball player and a person,” Nading said. “After leaving Japan I sat down and thought about what I really wanted to accomplish with the rest of my career.”

Meanwhile, he changed his pitching motion more than area codes. He was all over the place, searching for the right delivery. He found the right formula in Wichita.

“I have been through just about every arm slot and style since leaving high school in 2006, but lack of success has left me determined to find the real me and chase that success I’ve been desperate to feel,” Nading said.