Nolan McLean working at third base enters highly anticipated second season

STILLWATER – Nolan McLean was everywhere for the Cowboys last year.

As a true freshman, he played second base, first base, right field, designated hitter, pitcher…and in the fall he was practicing quarterback. He gave up dual-sport status early in his sophomore year, and it looks like he’ll start in a new place on the diamond for the Cowboys in 2022: at third base. OSU coach Josh Holliday said he could also play in an outside corner and could still throw if Rob Walton needed it.

“Really, that was kind of the plan from the start, it was to have the first drop that we had with him to develop him and his defensive skills,” Holliday said. “He made good progress at third base and is also very comfortable in the outfield. So I would say between those two places, that’s where you’ll see Nolan.

After a year of playing for Holliday and Mike Gundy, McLean is entering his second season eligible for the MLB Draft due to his age. Third base has been a solid spot for Pokes looking to get drafted. The Cowboys’ last two regular third basemen, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Kaden Polcovich, were All-Americans and drafted in the first four rounds of the MLB Draft.

McLean came to Stillwater as a highly touted MLB prospect, but because of the pandemic, the MLB draft was reduced to five rounds in 2020. Neither team was willing to use a pick on the high school product of North Carolina, although McLean is number one. 60 player in the MLB Prospect Rankings.

In his first season as a baseball player, McLean had a .263 batting average, going 36 for 137 at the plate with 36 runs scored, 10 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 20 RBIs.

He is entering his second season as a Preseason All-American, according to D1Baseball. He was also on the preseason All-Big 12 team, as voted on by league coaches. He is the No. 46 player in the MLB draft prospect rankings.

McLean said he will always miss football, saying it was like “breaking up with a girlfriend you dated for 15 years”.

“I’ve been playing baseball for probably 17 years now because I could walk quite well, but I never really committed to it,” McLean said. “So I think having just one sport to manage and devoting all my time and focus to it helps me in all aspects of the game.”

He may have missed a run at the Fiesta Bowl this fall, but the work he put in on his first baseball fall in a long time could pay off for his future and the Pokes’ season.

“With this year where professional baseball is going to spend a lot of time evaluating him, we just had a very honest conversation about how important it is for him to continue to spend time last fall learning his baseball skills. . where they can get before that opportunity to go through the draft process,” Holliday said. “As much as he loved football, knowing his clock in baseball was ticking, the time spent this fall with his skills and baseball, we just to discuss the value of that versus another fall with the football program where baseball would be the backdrop and then here he comes a spring where he’s going to try to pick up and put his skills together.

“Just more of an assessment of where he is with his career. As much as he loves football, as much as he is a future baseball player at the professional level. This clock is ticking a little faster than it would in a college football career, which sometimes takes four or five years before players see the whole process in football.

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