University of South Carolina Aiken's senior right-handed pitcher Nick Wandless was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 36th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft recently. Wandless, the grandson of Kenneth Wandless of Cherokee Village, was the eighth selection of the 36th round, the 1,074th pick overall, and the fourth Peach Belt Conference player chosen. A total of nearly 1,500 players were drafted over the 50-round, two-day event.
The selection also marks a continued relationship between USC Aiken and the Reds' organization. Former third baseman Bradley Key (2002-04), the last Pacer to be drafted in 2004, was tabbed by the Reds in the 48th round and is currently in Class A Sarasota. Clint Keown (2001-03) and Ashley Farr (2001-04) both signed free agent deals with the Reds in the past five years.
Wandless, a native of Evans, Ga., was named a Rawlings/ABCA Division II Baseball First-Team All-American at the conclusion of the 2006 season, joining Farr (2002-03) as the only Pacers to earn First-Team All-American status in the program's 15-year NCAA history. He also became the first pitcher named All-American since Bryan Ward was selected to the second team in 1993.
This season, Wandless became the first Pacer pitcher in a decade to earn All-Conference honors. With his 2006 ABCA First-Team All-Region selection, he equaled that feat on a larger scale. The four-year closer for USC Aiken turned in a 2-1 record with 17 saves and a 1.56 earned run average, striking out 48 and walking just nine in 34.2 innings pitched. He held opponents to a .137 batting average.
For his career, Wandless set a new NCAA record for career appearances with 114, breaking the 17-year-old mark of 109. He is also the school's, conference's, and NCAA's all-time saves leader with 32. Finishing second in Division II this year with 17 saves, Wandless established a new single season saves mark in the PBC, bettering Mike Wood's (North Florida) 2001 mark of 16.
A three-time PBC Pitcher of the Week this year, Wandless closes his collegiate career with a 17-5 record, 185 strikeouts in 178 innings, and an ERA of 2.33.
Nick was not the only member of the Wandless family to play a big role for the Pacers on the diamond this season. Brother Scott, a 6-0 left-handed sophomore hurler, tied the school record for wins in a season (nine) and was second to Nick in team ERA for the year.
USC Aiken closed out the 2006 season with a 45-19 record after placing fourth in the PBC in the regular season (15-12). The Pacers earned their second-straight NCAA South Atlantic Regional berth, finishing third, one game shy of the championship game.