Tyler Nevin (the son of Phil Nevin, the first pick in the 1992 draft) went 38th overall to the Rockies in Competitive Balance Round A of this year's amateur draft and signed for a $2 million bonus. The pick was reminiscent in many ways of Colorado's second-round pick two years ago, another high school third baseman in Ryan McMahon.
That is, the 18-year-old (just turned in May) Nevin is an athletic player with above-average tools and plus makeup at the hot corner who rated a little lower by scouts than his draft position (Nevin was on average listed around the 70th-best player available). McMahon has worked out pretty well thus far, and the Rockies are hoping for a similar result with Nevin.
"One of the advantages Tyler has is major league bloodlines," Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson told Purple Row in September. "When you grow up around the game and with a father who was in the highest level of competition that can be achieved and you’re able to soak some of that in, all of that has an impact on how you look at your baseball life. With the way that Tyler conducts himself — with professionalism — all that plays into what he does on the field."
Prospect guru David Hood, who rated Nevin No. 46 in his pre-draft evaluation, had this to say about the third baseman (in a mock draft for the Dodgers over at True Blue LA, where he took him at No. 67):
Nevin (#46) carries his own injury issues, having missed most of the summer circuit due to Tommy John surgery, but he's since recovered and played well this spring. With Nevin, you're largely buying the bat, where he's shown a high aptitude for contact with the leverage and build for future power. As he fills out, it's possible he may need to move across the diamond to first base, but for now, he will head out as a third baseman.
In a draft filled with athletic players, Nevin took precedent here because the risk is tempered by the hit tool and we're buying into him filling out his 6'3 200-lb frame to produce plus power fitting of a first baseman in his prime if need be.
In his professional debut with Rookie-level Grand Junction, Nevin posted a .265/.368/.386 line (100 wRC+) with 18 extra base hits in 223 plate appearances against pitchers that were on average 2.8 years older than him. Most impressively, Nevin's plate discipline was evident in his 13 percent walk rate. The debut was impressive enough for MLB.com to place Nevin 14th in the system:
Fully recovered from 2013 Tommy John surgery, Nevin's arm is a solid average tool from third. It does remain to be seen if he can stay there long-term, with some seeing a move to a corner outfield spot or perhaps to first base. While Nevin is a below-average runner, he's more athletic than you would think and runs much better underway. Whatever position Nevin plays, it will be his bat that will be his carrying tool. He was one of the more advanced high school hitters in his Draft class and his frame and pedigree say he's going to grow into a good amount of power.
All of Nevin's skills play up because of what is universally lauded as his plus makeup, something that will certainly help him move up the ladder.
Wilson and the Rockies' development team are fully aware of how ahead of the curve Nevin appears to be. The next step is helping him harness his ability as the competition gets tougher.
"For a high school player, he has an advanced approach," Wilson said. "Some of that goes back to the type of athlete he is, but some of it also goes back to the seasoning and tutelage he’s had from being around a major league environment. These are all factors in how a kid is going to show up when we take him in the draft, and those factors certainly played into him."
"It’s a great body; he’s gonna get bigger and stronger as he continues to grow, mature and train the Rockies way," Wilson added. "He’s got natural hand-eye coordination and natural ability to hit."
"Four or five years from now, he’ll have a chance to be a really good major league player."
The combination of bloodlines, scouting accolades, draft position, and production in an abbreviated debut was enough for me to place Nevin 19th on my personal list (man this system is deep). As was mentioned in the Kevin Padlo article, I'm intrigued by what the Rockies will do with Nevin next year in terms of assigning him to either a full-season affiliate or having him repeat in short-season ball, given his youth. My guess is that Colorado will give him a chance, like it did with McMahon two years ago and Padlo last year, to play at Low-A Asheville.