Barons pitcher relies on God on, off mound

Barons pitcher relies on God on, off mound

By Bill Sorrell
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Nolan Sanburn knows the beginning of his faith is based in John 3:16.

It is his favorite verse, and Sanburn, a right-handed pitcher for the Birmingham Barons, said, “I think that is the most important one, knowing at the end of the day, He has already saved the world and you can be saved by asking Him into your heart.”

The 25-year-old Sanburn — a member of Crossroads Community Church, a nondenominational church in his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana — did that when he was young.

“I became a Christian when I was a kid but I did not start taking it seriously until later in my life. Once I got to high school and college, I realized that I can’t do everything by myself. I need God to be there and to step in and to lead my life. I am not as strong as what I should be and need to be but at the same time, I know where my abilities and talents come from.

“God still loves me no matter if I strike out the side or give up a couple of hits. I know that I am always going to have God to fall back on. He is going to be there for me.”

Playing in 34 games with Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox in the Southern League, Sanburn, a reliever, had a 1–5 record with a 3.89 ERA. He had five saves. Sanburn gave up 71 hits, 33 runs and had 58 strikeouts.

Journey to Birmingham

Sanburn was drafted out of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville after his sophomore season by Oakland in 2012 (74th overall) and traded to the White Sox in 2014. He pitched for High-A Stockton and pitched in Birmingham in 2015.

His fastball has been clocked at 96 mph and he’s consistently thrown in the 93 to 94 mph range.

Sanburn, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 205 pounds, brings energy and competitiveness, said Barons teammate Peter Tago, also a right-handed pitcher.

“He has a great attitude toward the game. I have known him about a year now. I played with him last year in Birmingham and I played against him in 2014 in the California League. He was a dagger then. He is just a great guy to have in the clubhouse,” Tago said.

Barons right fielder Keenyn Walker said, “He is definitely one of those fiery guys and one of the guys you want on your team. He throws the ball well. He throws a lot of strikes.”

He had 30 strikeouts in 30 innings last season for the Barons with a 0–2 record and 6.60 ERA.

Tago said, “Deep down, he knows what he has got and what he brings to the table.” Tago attends baseball chapel with Sanburn and Walker.

Staying grounded

Sanburn said, “Going to baseball chapel on Sundays during the season has been key. Every Sunday we are at chapel which is awesome. Going to a couple of Bible studies with the players, those are big events that help you and keep you grounded on where your faith is.”

Tago added, “[Sanburn] is a very good Christian, a very good man. I would trust him with my kids. He holds me accountable. If I feel like I am getting off track in my faith, I can go to [him] and he has my back in faith.”

Sanburn’s parents and grandparents have been spiritual role models for him throughout his life.

“[My father] has done the most incredible job in leading me to Christ,” Sanburn said.

Sanburn’s faith helps him stay on top of his game professionally and spiritually.

“Jesus means more than one thing. The No. 1 thing, I know that He loves me when I mess up. I sin pretty often just like everybody else. It is encouraging when I do mess up, He is always going to take me back.”