The Milwaukee Brewers made their first foray into the free agent market of the 2016-17 offseason yesterday, though their signing was far from a marquee player. According to the official website of the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association, the Brewers have purchased the contract of 29 year old reliever Chad Nading.
Nading is a native of Anchorage, Alaska who was previously drafted in 2006 (36th round, DET) and 2009 (37th round, TEX), though he didn’t sign either time. He signed with the Padres as an undrafted free agent in 2010 after completing his senior season at UNLV. He spent just one season in their organization, allowing 9 earned runs in 5.2 innings in the Arizona League before getting released.
Nading spent 2011 in the Frontier League and 2012 in the North American Baseball League, allowing a total of 28 earned runs in 12.1 innings combined between the two seasons. He took a long lay off after that, unable to find work while figuring out a way to throw strikes consistently. He spent 2015 coaching high school ball before signing with Wichita in June of 2016.
Nading eventually converted to an over-the-top delivery to take advantage of his 6’6” frame and the right-hander served as a setup man with the Wingnuts this season. He posted a 1.83 ERA across 39.1 innings out of the bullpen along with a 30:17 K/BB ratio. He didn’t allow a single home run all season.
Baseball America ranked Nading as the fourth-best independent league prospect available earlier this month, praising his fastball that sits in the 94-97 MPH range and adding that he was finally able to throw enough strikes with it to be effective. Nading will need further refinement of his ability to pound the zone with quality pitches and to develop a useful secondary pitch (right now he’s developing a slider) before he has a chance to reach the big leagues, but you can’t teach plus velocity. Nading will hope to become the second Wingnuts alum to experience success with the Brewers, following in the footsteps of #2016BrewersAce Junior Guerra.
Here is an interview he gave shortly after signing with Wichita:
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference