Nathan Minnich: Career slugger at Shepherd
SHEPHERDSTOWN — In his senior year at Shepherd, first baseman Nathan Minnich became almost mythical, so prodigious was his offense.
Minnich, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound figure who came to Shepherd from Waynesboro High in Pennsylvania, had already shown the NCAA Division II world his prowess in his first three seasons as a Ram fixture. He batted .376 as a freshman and followed that robust showing with a .425 average as a sophomore. Then in his third season, the left-handed batting Minnich finished with a .433 average.
In those three years, he had already produced 37 home runs, literally destroying the school career record for homers.
The rest of the Division II world knew of his feats when his senior year rolled around.
As a senior, Minnich tore through the WVIAC one last time. His statistics were now known across the country. He was selected as the recipient of the Tino Martinez Award, which recognized him as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year.
What had he accomplished as a senior?
He hit .487, going 74-for-152. He amassed 21 homers, leaving his career total somewhere up in the sky at 58. There were 72 RBIs, 12 doubles, a whopping .980 slugging percentage, and a .645 on-base percentage that led the nation.
During his four-year reign of terror on conference pitching, Minnich had played on two WVIAC championship teams, was a part of two teams that qualified for the Atlantic Regional, was recognized as a two-time All-American and was twice honored as the WVIAC Player of the Year.
After his senior season, in the June 2012 draft of free agent amateurs, Minnich was selected in the eighth round by the Boston Red Sox and signed by scout Jon Adkins.
That summer, he first joined the Lowell (Massachusetts) Spinners of the New York-Pennsylvania League.
Professional pitchers got him out more often than the times he was successful against them. After batting less than .200 at Lowell and not showing the power he had at Shepherd, Minnich was sent to a Rookie League in Florida (playing for the Gulf Coast Red Sox), where in the league’s last weeks he hit. 232, going 22-for-95 at the plate.
After a spring training in Florida in early 2013, he went to the Gulf Coast Red Sox for the regular season and was 16-for-60 for a .267 batting average.
During the 2013 season, Minnich was released by the Red Sox. He had two home runs in the professional career.
Remembered at Shepherd for the number of home runs he bounced off the outside walls of a dormitory beyond the right-field fence, Minnich also hammered homers that landed on top of the same Shaw Hall. His number 34 has been retired by Shepherd and he is in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Prior to the 2019 signing of Shepherd outfielder Brenton Doyle in the amateur draft’s fourth round, Minnich was the highest draftee Shepherd ever produced.
Four college season’s that saw him finish with a career batting average in excess of .425 shows that Minnich was easily the best left-handed batter ever to play at Shepherd.
And the brick walls of Shaw Hall have been mostly unchallenged since Minnich went off to professional baseball.