Brad Bass could not be more excited to help the organization he grew up hating.
A Chicago native and right-handed pitcher from Notre Dame, Bass, 21, grew up a White Sox fan in New Lenox but was drafted in June in the seventh round by the Tigers.
“It’ll be crazy,” Bass said. “[I grew] up watching my team play against them all the time as division rivals. But it’ll definitely be cool to be in an organization like this.”
Bass graduated from Lincoln-Way Central in 2014 and was selected by the Cubs in the 33rd round. But he knew he’d be going to college first.
Coming out of high school, Bass was rated by Perfect Game, a scouting service, as the No. 2 righty in Illinois and the No. 5 overall player. As a senior at Lincoln-Way Central, Bass had an ERA of 0.86 and 49 strikeouts in 33 innings. Perfect Game described him at the time as having an “outstanding young pitcher’s build, long limbs with good strength and looseness, projects physically.”
He earned four varsity letters in baseball and three in basketball and reportedly threw between 89 and 92 mph.
Despite Bass’ success in high school, his transition to college baseball was not entirely smooth, Notre Dame pitching coach Chuck Ristano said.
“He really needed to learn that the demands we put on his body are really significant, and that’s not unlike most kids making the transition from high school to college,” Ristano said. “But I think Brad as an athlete has significantly improved and committed to that.”
Bass is listed at 6-6, 250 pounds and throws between 90 and 95 mph.
“Everybody looks at him, and they see a big guy,’’ Ristano said. ‘‘They don’t think he can move around well, and, quite honestly, he’s probably one of the more athletic guys on our team.”
At Notre Dame, Bass began as a reliever but battled through injuries his freshman and sophomore seasons. He played in the Cape Cod League the summer after his sophomore season, posting a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings, which helped him transition to a starter as a junior. He finished with a 4.03 career ERA and 122 strikeouts in 129‰ innings at Notre Dame.
“I would call him a power pitcher who’s got a pretty intimidating mound presence,” Ristano said.
Ristano praised Bass for being a vocal presence in the dugout when he wasn’t pitching, adding that players looked up to him.
“Brad’s a totally blue-collar, self-made kid,’’ Ristano said. ‘‘He’s a fantastic team guy. I think sometimes that gets overlooked in professional baseball, where everybody is trying to move up in the rankings.”
Ristano said he thinks Bass will pitch as well at the next level as he did for the Irish.
“I think [his game] will translate really well,” Ristano said. “He can move the fastball around the strike zone, and even if the guy knows the fastball is coming, if he locates it right, it’s got enough life on it where he can beat bats with it.”
Bass said he only knew the Tigers were interested in him once they drafted him. He’s on the roster for the Tigers’ short-season Class A team in Connecticut, where he will be a starter on an innings limit because he just finished his college season.
“I’ve always wanted to be a starter,” Bass said. “[But] if I ever get moved to the bullpen, I’m always open to whatever.”
Ristano said he hopes Bass gets an opportunity to start so he can continue to evolve, noting Bass was “probably our most consistent starter this year.”
Bass still has a long way to go before seeing time in the majors, but he said he’s excited to take the next step in the process, even if that means playing for the organization he grew up rooting against.
“It’s just going to be a cool experience to simply be playing baseball and trying to become the best player that I can possibly be,” Bass said.
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