MARION – Reputation became a big selling point for McDowell pitcher Canaan Silver as he thought about his college choice.
The Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College Pioneers have a reputation built on winning, Division I placement and the improvement of pitchers.
“It’s a two-year school and gives me more time to develop and figure out what I want to do,” Silver said. “It leaves more doors open for me down the road … A lot of power arms come out of SMC and I know they’ll be able to take me and develop me and get me to where I need to be.”
Silver said that the Pioneers’ winning ways played a “huge role” in his decision to commit.
The Pioneers have advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series three times in the past five seasons and seven times since 2000. They finished in third place nationally in 2013 and 2014.
Silver went 5-5 with three saves last year and had a 2.08 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 67.1 innings. He was named to the All-Mountain Athletic Conference team and to the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association’s all-state team.
“He had a successful year last year and my expectations are even higher than last year,” said Titans coach Alex Smith. “After you prove that you’re pretty good as a junior it’s important for you to come out, especially after making a commitment, and prove you’re worthy of this.”
Silver’s expectations are high, too, for the spring. His fastball increased in velocity over the summer and was clocked at 86 miles per hour recently.
Add in a tough splitter and a curveball and the leftie has the tools to continue his strikeout-throwing ways.
“I feel like my fastball is really going to help me a lot now that it is starting to pick up,” Silver said. “Now I can use my off-speed pitches, but also blow by people with the fastball and I think that will help me a lot.”
“As far as power and finesse he was a good combination of both,” Smith said. “Sometimes when guys have good off speed stuff it makes their fastball’s velocity seem higher than it really is. It’s a good combination to have.”
Silver learned the split-finger pitch and chose to use it instead of a straight change-up.
“I feel like the splitter has a lot more action,” he said. “It’s not as flat and I feel like it’s something people don’t see a whole lot. If they see it, it sort of stops batters. It’s done really well for me.”
Silver chose the Pioneers over offers from UNC Pembroke and Lander. Wingate and the Virginia Military Institute were working on offers for him, he said.