Meet the Fish: Brandon Underhill
By Bill Potrecz • BP Sports Niagara
Brandon Underhill has embraced a more prominent role with the Welland Jackfish this season.
The 24-year-old Niagara Falls native has found a niche as a long reliever after bouncing between the starting rotation and bullpen last season.
“It’s great,” he said. “Just giving the guys a chance to win every night. Coming in, knowing my role, throwing strikes and attacking hitters and letting the guys work behind me. It’s nice to give the guys a chance to do what they do.”
Underhill feels the role of the middle reliever is crucial.
“It’s very important,” he said. “The guys trust everyone on the team in our pen and being able to give a couple innings here and there and be able to bridge the gap is very important. It’s a huge part of the game and luckily it’s been paying off for me.”
Underhill has a pair of wins in nine games and is averaging more than a strikeout per inning despite not being a flamethrower.
“I would say he’s one of the top guys out of our bullpen, between him and (Deivy) Mendez and (Mike) Mueller,” Jackfish manager Brian Essery said. “Consistently, we go to him when we need longer innings and we’ve needed a lot lately because we haven’t had good starting pitching.”
Essery has complete confidence in Underhill.
“He can get outs and go through the middle of a lineup in this league now whereas before, it would be tough for him,” Essery said. “Now, I have 100 percent faith in his abilities and he has confidence in himself. He’s always been very composed but now you can tell he has the confidence in his abilities. He’s attacking hitters. He’s not walking guys and he’s still getting his strikeouts but he gets ahead 0-1, 1-2.”
Underhill, who features a two-seam sinker, change-up, slider, and curveball, feels his ability and willingness to pitch to contact are vital to his success.
“It’s just getting out there and attacking the hitters. I know I don’t throw the hardest in the league but everything I throw moves. I just kind of trust it and attack,” he said.
Underhill also played the infield for the past couple of seasons but has given that up to concentrate strictly on pitching.
“I always focused on doing both but focusing on just the pitching side might be (the reason for my success),” he said.
Underhill, played baseball for two seasons at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, N.Y., with the hopes of one day attending a Division 1 program. He had some interest from four-year schools in the States, but ultimately chose to stay close to home and attend Brock where graduated with a Bachelor of Kinesiology.
He loves being a Jackfish.
“It’s awesome. Everyone in that locker room is enjoying every day at the ball park. Everyone is happy.”