Malvern pitcher works on craft

Malvern Prep righthander Gardner Nutter. (Lou Rabito/Staff)

It's no exaggeration to say that Malvern Prep's Gardner Nutter is a true student of the game of baseball. Well, to be exact, pitching.

Last summer, the senior righthander spent two months at Ron Wolforth's Texas Baseball Ranch. There, he learned the ins and outs of being a hurler. Warm-up drills, long toss, delivery, command, hip mobility, and accelerated arm recovery were part of the advanced curriculum.

"It's really about learning how to be the most dynamic, athletic pitcher you can be," Nutter said. "So much goes into doing that."

For proof, just check out Nutter's pregame ritual. It includes rigorous stretching and plyometrics.

"You can't get everything out of your body until you're completely warmed up," he said.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder also uses wrist weights. During long toss, he listens to songs from heavy metal bands such as Disturbed, Parkway Drive, and A Day To Remember. "The music helps me sync up to my delivery," he said.

Nutter has a unique pitching stride. Like the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum, with a smaller stature, he tries to drive off the mound for peak velocity.

"I have a different spine angle," Nutter explained. "At the top of my leg lift, I like to angle my hips out. If you keep the tension, you can throw harder. It's about biomechanics and using your entire body."

Past campers at the Texas Baseball Ranch, which Nutter learned about while watching the College World Series, include three pitchers who have reached the major leagues: Trevor Bauer (Indians), Scott Kazmir (A's), and C.J. Wilson (Angels).

Nutter throws a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball, and change-up. He said Wolforth's new-age clinics, held on a 20-acre ranch in Montgomery, Texas, helped increase the velocity on his fastball from about 74 to 76 m.p.h. to 84 to 86 m.p.h.

Last season, in helping Malvern Prep (7-0) claim its third straight Inter-Ac League championship, Nutter went 8-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 511/3 innings.

"He's an old soul," said Friars coach Freddy Hilliard, whose squad played five games last week in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "He's a very intense, serious kid. And he's so dedicated to what he does. He's in the weight room every day at 6:30 a.m."

Nutter, who last fall pitched for the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox showcase team, is ticketed for Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Division II Tritons play in the competitive Sunshine State Conference.

Planning to major in exercise science, the 18-year-old, a walking anatomy book, will have a leg up on most students.

Extra bases. Devon Prep junior first baseman-pitcher Sean Phelan has committed to play at Penn. Last season, he batted .409 with 22 RBIs and 18 runs. . . . Coatesville senior lefthander Brian Brown, bound for North Carolina State, has struck out 26 and allowed only one hit in 13 innings. The hit came on a fly ball that an outfielder lost in the sky. . . . Dennis Primavera, formerly an assistant at Springside Chestnut Hill, is in charge at Springfield (Montco). The Spartans have one of the area's top backstops in senior Marten Pauwels . . . In a Suburban One League National Conference makeup game, Pennsbury will visit third-ranked Council Rock North at 1 p.m. Saturday.