If Cameron Selik was a boxer, he would be considered a counter puncher.
He’d probably fire jabs and keep his distance. He’d win on points, probably not knockouts.
But Selik is a starting pitcher for the Hagerstown Suns. He is in a different kind of battle, but he follows similar principles.
The right-hander will be Hagerstown’s opening-day starter today at 7 p.m. when the Suns start the 2011 season on the road against the Rome (Ga.) Braves. His specialty is making teams hit the ball.
“He’s had a good spring. I hope he can build off of it,” said Suns manager Brian Daubach. “I like his presence on the mound. He isn’t afraid of contact. He goes after hitters.”
In a way, Daubach is calling Selik a control pitcher. His forte is keeping the ball down and around the plate to force opponents to hit the ball.
“Every pitcher says strikeouts are important,” Selik said. “Our defense is pretty good and I’m going to try and let them do their part. No one should be afraid to let them hit it because it helps you.”
Selik does get strikeouts, but he doesn’t make it the focal point of his game.
He will be making his debut as a starter for the Nationals organization today. He made 15 appearances for the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Single-A New York-Penn League, all in relief. He walked 13 and struck out 32 in 28 1/3 innings — better than a whiff an inning — while posting a 2.54 ERA.
Selik, 23, was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 22nd round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Kansas. He was 6-4 in 15 starts for the Jayhawks with a 5.06 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings.
Selik doesn’t mind dropping the macho image to succeed.
“If you pitch to contact, you keep your pitch count down and go deeper in games,” he said. “Everyone has to deal with the pitch count, but if you can do your part and get to the seventh and eighth inning, you can save the bullpen.”
Selik will make his first start in front of a Suns team that features good defense up the middle and strong hitting, led by right fielder Bryce Harper.
Harper, the top overall draft pick in the 2010 amateur draft, starts his professional career as the focal point of an athletic team. He will bat third for Hagerstown.
Joining Harper in the outfield are Michael Taylor and Wade Moore. The infield is projected to be Brett Newsome at first, Adrian Sanchez at second, Jason Martinson at short and Blake Kelso at third. Sanchez is strong defensively around the base and led the Single-A Vermont Lake Monsters in hitting last year.
David Freitas is projected to start behind the plate.
Harper is obviously the focal point of the Suns, but Daubach is confident Hagerstown will display a well-rounded team.
“Bryce has a ton of talent as advertised,” Daubach said. “We are excited about having him come here. We had one of the longest camps I’ve ever experienced. We are ready to go and can’t wait for the lights to go on.”