By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
It is no coincidence that wherever T.J. Nichting suits up, success follows. T.J. once lived out every little leaguer’s dream by playing in the Little League World Series in front of 20,000 fans. He was also part of a 3x regional champion high school team. More recently, he helped his UNC-Charlotte squad reach the semi-finals of the Conference USA tournament in 2017 after years of sub-.500 seasons. Now, as the ninth round draft selection of the Baltimore Orioles, he calls Aberdeen, MD home.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Nichting took Charlotte, NC by storm his freshman year after he appeared in all 51 games and was named 49ers team MVP, leading the team in average (.283), at-bats (158), hits (56), doubles (13), total bases (76), and triples (2).
After falling victim to an extreme sophomore slump (.198/.236/.281), Nichting’s bat exploded over his final two seasons at Charlotte, slashing .358/.388/.502 his junior year, followed by .373/.411/.529 his senior year. T.J.’s above-average ability to make contact from both sides of the plate made him very attractive to scouts across the country.
“He has a great feel for the game and is very versatile. He can pretty much do it all.” said Diamond Niner Fans, a small community of UNC-Charlotte baseball enthusiasts. Not only is Nichting a switch-hitting contact guy, he also stole 16 bases this season for Charlotte, after swiping just three bags up to that point in his career. After watching Nichting for four years, @Diamond9erFans said of his base running ability, “He is a very aggressive base runner. When he got on base, he would do everything he possibly could to get that run home.”
His speed combined with a great outfield arm (10 assists in 2017) make Nichting a prospect to keep an eye on down in Aberdeen. He already has one outfield assist for Aberdeen. A beautiful throw to home plate to gun down a would-be Staten Island Yankee run.
My favorite part about T.J.’s game is his eye at the plate. In 863 career at-bats, Nichting struck out only 86 times, less than 10% of his at-bats. While he walked just 48 times, his high batting average and low strikeout rate show just how well T.J. sees the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand.
Since signing with the Orioles, Nichting has struggled a bit. While the transition to professional ball will be a challenge, he will have a familiar face with him at all times. Nichting’s college roommate and fellow UNC-Charlotte outfielder, Zach Jarrett (son of NASCAR legend Dale Jarrett), was also drafted by the Orioles and has appeared in one game for the Ironbirds.
A big thank you to @Diamond9erFans for their insight on T.J. Nichting. Be sure to give them a follow if you are UNC-Charlotte fan or alum or if you are a fan of Conference USA baseball. As always, keep up with everything that is happening around the Orioles’ farm system by following @BabyBirdland, @CoachNick_14, and @CABoemmelJR on Twitter.
Be sure to like Baby Birdland on Facebook, Google+ and follow our Twitter account!