Nastrini makes 'dream' debut with family, friends behind him

April 16th, 2024

CHICAGO -- The phone rang at the San Diego home of Chris and Beth Nastrini on Saturday morning around 6 a.m., and Beth immediately feared something was amiss.

, her 24-year-old son and No. 8 White Sox prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was scheduled to make his Major League debut on April 3 at home against the Braves, but a bout of pneumonia at the end of Spring Training put him out of action. So, there was reason for concern.

But it was a call of joy, not worry.

“He was already in the car with the clubbie to the airport Sunday. I was like ‘What’s wrong? Who calls me then?’” a smiling Beth told during her son’s official debut Monday in a 2-0 loss to the Royals, dropping the White Sox to 2-14. “He was like ‘Get your tickets.’”

“I was supposed to pitch in Jacksonville and our manager in Triple-A came and knocked on my hotel door at 9:15 and was like, 'You have 15 minutes to get downstairs. The clubbie's taking you to the airport. You're pitching in Chicago tomorrow,’” said Nick of his Sunday news. “Just beelined downstairs to the valet area and the next thing I know, I'm here yesterday. It was a quick turnaround.”

There were 25 friends and family coming to Nastrini’s original debut, which never was played due to inclement weather. Fifteen from the same group were in attendance to watch Nastrini allow two runs over five innings, with five strikeouts and two walks.

That list included Nick’s brother and sister, Jake and Jenna, a collegiate teammate of his from UCLA and a couple of childhood friends. Jenna is engaged to Michael Toglia, the right fielder for the Colorado Rockies, and shortly after Nick picked up his first career strikeout, acing Bobby Witt Jr. on an 85.6 mph changeup in the first inning, the Guaranteed Rate Field scoreboard showed news of Toglia’s fourth home run taking place in Philadelphia.

Kansas City was unable to get a baserunner against Nastrini over the first 11 hitters until Vinnie Pasquantino connected for a 421-foot blast to right field. Nastrini needed just 74 pitches to get through five innings, allowing a second run on Kyle Isbel’s run-scoring single in the fifth, but finished things off on a bases-loaded fly out by Witt Jr. to deep center.

“Never seeing him before, he had command of all his pitches,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He seemed like he slowed the game down really well. Fastball had good carry, and he was in the mid-90s. Good breaking ball. It was impressive.”

This White Sox youth movement on the mound continues on Tuesday with Jonathan Cannon, the club’s No. 11 prospect, starting against the Royals. Jordan Leasure, who was acquired from the Dodgers along with Nastrini in a deal sending Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to the Dodgers at the 2023 Trade Deadline, threw a perfect seventh inning Monday, giving him six scoreless appearances in ‘24.

Leasure was texting friends after the game, saying he felt like a proud big brother watching Nastrini in action. And the series opener belonged to Nastrini, who figures to get many more starting opportunities. This one in front of his family had an extra special feeling.

“I mean, it’s everything,” Beth said.

“He’s gone through it and you know what?” Chris said. “It really is a dream of his.”

When Beth started answering the question, she had to briefly stop as the emotion of the moment got to her. Both parents were very proud of their Major League pitcher, even if the news of his callup came before dawn.

“You are a mom, and you are worried about the pitching and the pneumonia,” Beth said. “He wanted it so bad, I was worried he was coming back too fast.”

“At the end of the day, it’s never been easy being a pitcher’s only dad,” said a smiling Chris, who played high school baseball against Ken Williams, the one-time White Sox executive vice president. “You are always living pitch by pitch.”

Emotions hit Nick as well, meeting with the media after spending time with his family postgame.

“It meant everything to me,” said Nick of his family and friends being in Chicago. “My buddy Noah, I played catch with him everyday during the offseason. My brother Jake, he catches my bullpens. He catches my bullpen with no gear on.

“He's out there taking spiked sliders to the shins for me during COVID and times after that too. Having my dad, my mom and sister here, they're my biggest support system. My friends and family mean the absolute world for me."