University of Louisville LHP Nick Bennett was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the sixth-round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Now, Bennett is in the midst of one of the most exciting periods of his young life. His team is chasing a championship and plays in the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend while he prepares to enter pro ball.
Bennett has been the Louisville workhorse over the last few seasons, never pitching less than 60 frames. In 201 IP in college, he has a 3.58 ERA with an 8.82 K/9 and 2.96 BB/9.
Bennett took time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about what it was like getting drafted and gave us some information to help fans get to know one of the newest Milwaukee Brewers.
Brad Ford: What was it like getting drafted?
Nick Bennett: Just a very special moment in my life, life changing as well. I’m still playing here at the University of Louisville, our goal is to win a National Championship and go to Omaha, but I was very excited when I was drafted. My family, friends and teammates were all very happy for me as well. It’s a very special moment that I’ll never forget.
Brad: How did you find out that you were drafted? Were you at a draft party?
Nick: No, we didn’t do a draft party or anything like that. Yesterday we actually had lifting at school, we didn’t have practice. Then I was in the training room and after the training room, I sped home real quick to my house a little off campus where my mom, my dad, my sister and my girlfriend were, my roommates were there as well, and we were watching the draft. My advisor had told me where to expect, he kinda told me somewhere in the seventh. Then we got to the sixth round and it was 30 seconds before the Brewers made their pick, he said, “Here it comes.” It was a very, very exciting moment obviously.
Brad: What was the reaction in the room once your name was announced?
Nick: You know my family, my girlfriend and my roommates all started clapping for me, there was a huge smile on my face. I said a quick “thank you” to The Man Upstairs. I think I’m a pretty religious person, so I said a quick prayer and then enjoyed that time with my family and friends.
Brad: Did you know Milwaukee was interested in you coming into the draft?
Nick: Yes, I did. My advisor had given me a rundown heading into the draft of a couple teams that were a little bit higher on me than other teams and the Brewers were one of them.
Brad: What’s the self-scouting report?
Nick: I throw my fastball well to both sides of the plate. I get a little run with my two-seamer. My wipeout pitch is my curveball. I’ll throw that in any count, if I need to throw it for a strike, like in an 0-0 count to mess with a hitter, I can throw if for a strike. Then my changeup I’ll throw to lefties or righties. I get some good dive on that. I throw a cutter that I’ll usually use straight to lefties, just to have it start at them and cut to the plate. That’s just to give them a different look than the other fastball.
Brad: What makes you successful on the mound?
Nick: Pitching is a lot about confidence; a little bit of a mental game. I think I’m pretty confident when I’m out on the mound. I have the mentality that I’m not going to let the other guy beat me. I like to think of myself as a bulldog when I’m out on the mound. It’s fun to play the game with emotion. It’s a kid game and I like to play it that way. It’s about playing the game the right way, mixing my pitches against hitters. My number one job is to get outs, and I think I do a pretty good job of that.
Brad: Is there a player in the game that you model yourself after?
Nick: I wouldn’t say there’s one specific player I model my game after. When a left-handed pitcher is on the team, I watch to see what they do. You can always learn from watching the game, just as much as you can from playing the game. Really, I just like watching left-hand pitchers pitch. What kind of stuff they have, their pickoff move, seeing what their mentality is on the mound and how they go about their business. I really like learning from all big leaguers, honestly.
Brad: What do you want your role to be if and when you get to the Major League?
Nick: I’ve been a starter my entire career, since I started playing high school baseball and the last three years at the University of Louisville. I would like to continue starting. I’m open to anything, I just want to help my team succeed and win baseball games. Just to be in a starting position, I like to be able to go 5, 6 or 7 innings, and hand it off to another bulldog out of the bullpen to finish it off. I’d really like to remain a starter.
Brad: When you got drafted, you joined a system with a former teammate. Did you hear anything from him when your name was called?
Nick: Yes, Devin Hairston and I actually have the same advisor. Devin shot me a text and I think that’s really cool that we’re going to be in the same organization. I don’t know if you know this, but Brent Suter went to the same high school as me in Cincinnati, so he shot me a text and I thought that was really cool too.
Brad: Have you had a relationship with Brent?
Nick: He’s been in and around my high school when I was a Junior and Senior, just lifting weights and stuff. I knew who he was and we kinda knew each other. Then, getting a text from him yesterday was just really cool. I had a big smile on my face after I saw that.
Brad: Do you think he’ll send you a reusable water bottle as a congratulations present?
Nick: I hope he does! If he does, I absolutely will use it and will support his cause.
Brad: What can we find you doing on the off days?
Nick: I’m a huge fan of Fortnite. My teammates and I play a lot of video games when we have free time. I like playing golf too, even though I haven’t played this year, I do like golf. It’s nice to go on a run here and there, too. I enjoy playing basketball, too. Obviously, I’m not doing that now since we’re in the middle of the season, but in the offseason it’s a nice way to get a workout in.
Brad: Where do you drop in Fortnite?
Nick: My favorite place to drop is Pleasant Park. My teammates and I drop there a lot.
Brad: Quick loot and easy to get in the kills, right?
Nick: That’s right, that’s right. A lot of people drop there so you loot and then get to shootin’.
Brad: What type of music do you listen to?
Nick: I can listen to a little bit of everything. I’m a fan of rap and pop and the stuff everyone listens to, but I’m a huge fan of country music in the summer and I really like listening to a little bit of oldies music. There’s good music in all the different generations.
Brad: What’s your warm-up song?
Nick: My warm up song is “Blue Notes” by Meek Mill.
Brad: What’s your binge TV show?
Nick: I like watching a lot of documentaries. Usually, I’ll hop on Netflix and watch a documentary. One show I’ve kind of gotten attached to after I started watching it with my girlfriend is Friends. Every time she puts it on it gives me a good laugh.
Brad: Headed into Super Regionals, how excited are you to potentially bring a championship back to Louisville?
Nick: We’re obviously excited for that. Playing in front of the hometown crowd is a huge advantage when it gets to part of this season and our home fans are really great. I’m really excited for this opportunity.
Brad: You have a few future teammates in the playoffs, are you hoping to take on any of them on the mound?
Nick: Absolutely, I’d love it.
Brad: Did you know any of them from your experience in collegiate ball?
Nick: Nick Kahle, the catcher from Washington. He actually played summer ball with me in high school. So, when I saw that he was drafted I shot him a text and then we were pretty fired up about the chance to be teammate. I also reached out to Thomas Dillard on Ole Miss. We played Ole Miss twice this year. Obviously, watching him play, he’s a great athlete and is one hell of a baseball player. It’s cool that I know some of the guys the Brewers are picking.