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The Dan Nunan Story: From 78 to MLB Draft Pick

A year and half ago, I got a call from a former coach who told me a kid he thought had some potential and wanted us to work with him. Having just recently opened up a baseball facility in the South Jersey area we were thrilled to have our first client ever. Dan Nunan came in on his first day of training having never thrown a varsity inning and his fastball topping out at 78 mph. Paired with that 78mph fastball was a funky moving lefty with very slow mechanics. You could tell immediately the type of worker Dan was going to be from the beginning. His willingness to learn and to get better was apparent by the amount of questions he was asking and how he went about executing his training. After his first day, we sat down with his mother and told her and Dan that we thought that Dan had the potential to be a Division 1 pitcher and play professional baseball player. They both looked at us like we were crazy but ultimately all it took for Dan to get where he is now was for him to make that choice to himself and to stay committed to that choice for the next 18 months. Needless to say, this conversation was the start of something special.

At this point in Dan’s life he was more of a swimmer than a baseball player so he would come and get his throwing in after his swimming practices. As time and his training began to progress the workload started getting to Dan and his velocity dropped off. Dan didn’t get frustrated, he understood why it was happening and continued to focus on the things he could control. As his swimming season began to slow down and he got more training time under his belt he started moving better on the mound and the velocity ticked up as a result. At the start of the winter Dan topped out at 83mph on a pulldown and in the weeks preceding the start of his junior campaign he was pulling down 90mph. Dan already had a decent grasp on how to pitch but it was with the velocity jump that he started to gain interest from some schools but the schools needed to see it all wrapped in one on the mound. Having admitting he has never thrown a ball over 78mph on the mound we were all very intrigued to see how that would scale with the increase in velocity we achieved in his pulldowns. In the first preseason pen that we would gun Dan’s first pitch registered in at 85mph. He sat 83-86 and topped at 88mph. This is a pivotal part of the story and really speaks to who Dan Nunan is because of how Dan reacted. While most people would focus on how far they have come in this situation, Dan chose the outlook to focus on the work that still needed to be done so he could achieve all of those things we talked about on his first day. He didn’t lose focus on his goal that day and nor would he in the days and weeks to come with offers from a lot of local division 1 starting to come in by the day. After finishing his junior season and visiting all of the schools, Dan chose to commit to the University of Delaware. Delaware was a place Dan loved and felt good at from the moment he stepped on campus.

It seems like so much had happened in shaping Dan’s career in such a short period of time that the idea of the current season was an afterthought but Dan didn’t lose focus on what he needed to do every time he toed the rubber that season. Dan took the league by storm that year combining the pitchability that he has with the uptick in velocity and improvement to some off-speed pitches. Dan threw 36 innings with 58 strikeouts posting 1.35 ERA. He earned an invite to the Area Code games, was named 1st team all CAL (league) and made the prestigious Carpenter Cup Team.

Again, with so much good happening for someone in such a short period of time it would be easy for a person to fall off and let some complacency set in. It was evident from the Summer following his junior year that Dan was not going to let that happen. With the mindset of a person with everything to prove and now having something worth-while to actually lose he seemed to find another gear in his training. He was in every single day for about 2-3 hours of scheduled training and about another 1-2 hours of extra work on top of that. By every single day it is meant that he literally did not miss a single day of training. His focus had shifted more to professional baseball. Dan made a plan, he knew he needed to move better, get stronger and continue to improve his measurable's off the mound. He made that commitment to himself and by the end of the summer he was moving better, stronger and increased his fastball to ranging from mid 80s topping at high 80s to sitting 86-89 and finally topping 90mph.

This consistency and dedication to being the best pitcher he could be did not falter once the fall and winter came around. Dan was left with another choice. Above all things Dan is a competitor and even though he wanted to get back in the pool and swim competitively he wanted to leave zero stones unturned when it came to his pursuit of success on the mound. So with that in mind, Dan decided to not swim his senior. A choice that some coaches and scouts advised against. Dan knew the benefits that swimming provided him as an overall athlete but felt he could still get that same effect in a training scenario while still being able to prioritize his baseball development. We sat down and put together a plan which highlighted the area that we thought Dan needed to improve the most in. The beauty of training Dan is that there was zero worry on our end. We knew he would do everything we wrote out for him and would not miss a single detail.

Dan attacked his fall and winter training with such attention to detail that from a trainer standpoint it was really easy to work with him. By the time his senior season came around, Dan was a well-known prospect in the area. After attending multiple draft workouts throughout the winter it was evident that his draft fate was going to be determined by how well he would pitch in his senior season. He went 5-0 with 74 strikeouts in 37.2 innings pitched while posting a 1.49 ERA. His fastball ranged from 86-90 and topping at 91. After his season ended Dan went right back to work preparing for some pre-draft workouts.

After all of his workouts were done Dan still wasn’t sure if he would get drafted. He kept a level head and continued to show up and do his daily training. Sticking to his routine even though he had zero idea whether or not he would be drafted and if the offer would be enough for him to forgo college was huge for him. The sense of ease that doing everything you possible can to achieve something you set out to do is something that few people in this world achieve let alone baseball players. Needless to say Dan is one of those people.

As the draft approaches, some nerves start to set in. All the work is done, there is literally nothing more that he could do but wait. There are a million questions running through his head that only time will be able to answer. As the first two days of the draft come and go Dan’s name is still on the board. More nerves began to set in as the 3rd and final day of the draft is set to begin. A few of us come into the facility early so Dan can get some throwing and a lift in before day 3 starts. 12pm comes around and Dan gets a call that the Angels are interested in taking him in the 12th round. At this point we determined that the MLB Twitter Draft Updates were faster than the radio cast that we were streaming through the computer. The 12th round comes and 2 of us are standing next to Dan constantly refreshing the twitter page. It’s now 12:15 and with what seemed like the longest 15 mins in the world being over the Angels are now on the clock.

The pick is in and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim select Dan Nunan, a LHP from Ocean City High School. The three of us begin to scream and hug it out with a 4th person coming sprinting in after running 2 miles when he heard that the Angels were looking at taking Dan in the 12th round. As trainers who have all played high level baseball, this moment far surpassed any moment that we achieved on the field ourselves. The relationship formed with not only Dan but all of our trainees goes much further outside the scope of baseball.

What makes Dan special to all of us is not that he was one of our first trainees or that he was the first guy to get drafted who trained with us but rather the way he went about his training. This point cannot be made enough. Since the day he began training here if there was ever a kid we saw slacking off or wasting his potential we would point out the way Dan went about his training and how the results he was seeing were not a result of luck or genetics but from the will to be the best pitcher he could be. We, as Dan’s trainers, would like take 0 credit for the things he has already accomplished in his career and will continue to take 0 credit for everything he will achieve in his career.

There are two people that Dan would like to thank and credit for his work ethic and they are his late father Dr. Desmond Nunan who passed away in July of 2016 and his mother Louise Buckley Nunan. Dan draws different inspiration from both of them. Dan’s father was a tireless worker who strove for excellence in everything he did and is something that definitely found its way into Dan’s mentality. Dr. Desmond’s track record does nothing but solidify this. It starts with him graduating Magna cum Laude from University of Pittsburgh with a degree in biochemistry and continues with him achieving his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor when he graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He helped save countless lives in his 35 years as an emergency medicine physician. While all of this is extremely impressive in its own right, Dr. Desmond did all of this while serving as a lifeguard on the Ocean City Beach Patrol and while traveling the world competing in Ironman Triathlons, consistently achieving stellar rankings and winning the 2001 World Championship. Dan’s mother, Louise, was also an extremely good athlete who competed in marathons regularly. While that is impressive and definitely something that stuck with Dan, that is not why he credits her. Dan credits her for being extremely hard on him and never cutting him a break. Something that in the moment Dan hated but now is forever grateful for. Being a Mother requires an incredible amount of selflessness and the amount of personal sacrifices that Louise has made to put her family above her is something that Dan sees as the reason for him being able to dedicate so much of his time to baseball. Those sacrifices mean so much to Dan and that was evident when they got to share their moment of Dan being drafted together.

There are already so many morals and lessons so far in the story of Dan Nunan but one of the most important ones should be made clear. You don’t need to be the most talented, athletic or even smartest to achieve your goals. You need to work. Wherever you find your inspiration is completely subjective and unique to each and every athlete. You need to find your “why” and commit to that “why” every single day as you scratch and claw to reach your potential. It’s not pretty, it’s not easy and it is not going to always be fun… but it is possible and is worth it every single time.

Congrats Danny, your journey has been incredible thus far and it has been our honor to be able to watch you grown not only as a baseball player but also as a friend, brother and son. We can’t wait to watch you continue to grow in every facet of your life. Go Halos!

- Baseball Performance Center

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