Nate O’Bryan hopes his time in the independent leagues turns into a bright future in baseball, but if not, the 2008 Olympia High graduate already has a Plan B in place: pro wrestling.
“It’s never too late to do anything,” he said.
At age 24, O’Bryan, who starred at Saint Martin’s in 2011 and ’12, is in his first season with the Frontier League’s Traverse City (Michigan) Beach Bums — his second season of independent baseball overall.
When not watching World Wrestling Entertainment, O’Bryan is a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. Most of O’Bryan’s work is situational, against left-handed hitters late in games, and he has a 3.78 ERA in 162/3 innings over 13 appearances.
Pitching is a big change from when fans saw O’Bryan in high school. An everyday first baseman at Olympia, O’Bryan pitched only one-third of an inning in his two years on varsity for the Bears, but he made the transition to pitcher at Green River Community College when doors to other positions wouldn’t open.
He became a starter at Saint Martin’s and was signed while in the California Winter League in 2013 for his arm and another special talent: pick-offs. He set a school-record 30 at Green River. He has eight so far this year with the Beach Bums
“It’s a nice little tool,” O’Bryan said from Michigan, where the Beach Bums are 21-30 and in the midst of a four-day break for the Frontier League’s All-Star break.
But the bullpen, where mindless conversations and movie guessing games are played to pass the time, is a natural fit for O’Bryan.
“It’s so much fun,” he said. “It changes your whole mindset with a snap of a finger.”
Earlier this spring, O’Bryan spent time working with Olympia’s coaching staff by mentoring pitchers before his departure for Michigan in mid-April. As a senior, O’Bryan helped the Bears to a 23-3 overall record and a third-place finish at the 4A state tournament.
“I wanted to throw them my two cents of how I think the game should be played and how to act like a baseball player,” he said.
CONLEY BACK FROM DL
Pitching Adam Conley, a teammate of O’Bryan at Olympia, has made five appearances (four starts) at Triple-A New Orleans (Miami Marlins affiliate) since being activated from the disabled list in mid-June.
He spent more than a month on the DL with left-elbow tendinitis and is 3-4 with a 5.53 ERA over 11 appearances.
Tyler Dunnington, a 2010 Shelton High graduate and a 28th-round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in June, already has pitched 92/3 innings in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He’s 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA and eight strikeouts.
Dunnington’s brother, Jacob Dunnington, is in the San Francisco Giants organization but has not pitched in 2014.
The minor league notebook, updating South Sound players in the minor leagues, will appear occasionally throughout the summer.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick