23. Tyler Nevin (280 points, 30 ballots)
Tyler Nevin had a perfect year at the plate in 2016. Unfortunately that was because a very severe hamstring injury suffered in spring training limited him to just one plate appearance, a double for Short Season A Boise. That’s a shame because the 19-year-old third baseman was poised to make a strong full season ball impression in his second professional season.
Nevin (yes, the son of Phil Nevin, the first pick in the 1992 draft) went 38th overall to the Rockies in Competitive Balance Round A of 2015’s amateur draft and signed for a $2 million bonus. The pick was reminiscent in many ways of Colorado's second-round pick in 2014, another California high school third baseman you’ll see later on in this list, Ryan McMahon.
That is, 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). The combo of major-league bloodlines and makeup generally leads to a higher likelihood of a player maxing out his potential, and that’s what the Rockies are hoping for with Nevin. After all, it has worked out pretty well thus far for McMahon (absent the bloodlines).
Nevin displayed patience (13% walk rate) if not power in his professional debut with Grand Junction in 2015. In all, Nevin produced a .265/.368/.386 line in 223 plate appearances against pitchers that were on average 2.9 years older than him, good for an average 100 wRC+. It’s a good start, but his injury this year means that he’ll be behind developmentally going into his full season ball debut.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs placed Nevin 17th in the system:
Nevin’s 2016 was lost due to injury. Scouts who saw him during spring training liked the bat speed, thought he had plus raw power projection and a chance to be an average defender at third base, provided he could add a half grade of arm strength into his 20s. We’ll have to see if Nevin’s severe hamstring injury will have lasting effects on what was already a fringey defensive profile next spring. He’s a potentially average regular who is far away from the majors and now has health questions to answer.
When grading Nevin, Longenhagen (who is a stingy grader compared to other national prospect writers) gave him average or plus grades on his raw (55) and game (50) power as well as his throwing arm (50), with the low grade being a 30 run tool.
Meanwhile, MLB.com currently also has Nevin 17th in the system:
Taller and more athletic than his father was, Nevin is an advanced hitter for his age. He works counts and tries to drive the ball from gap to gap with a quick line-drive stroke. As he gets stronger and adds more leverage to his right-handed swing, he could hit 20 homers per season.
Though some scouts believe Nevin will wind up on an outfield corner or at first base, the Rockies are confident he'll stick at third base. He has the actions, hands and arm to play at the hot corner, and they think he can improve his first-step quickness. He has below-average speed but good instincts on the bases.
I hope Nevin is able to come back from his injury at full strength in Asheville this year. Given Colorado's other intriguing options at the hot corner already in the system (plus one Nolan Arenado), it seems unlikely that Nevin will play there if he does make it to the Show—but what do I know? I didn’t think Trevor Story would ever play shortstop for the Rockies either. More likely, Nevin would be a first base option or a big bat off the bench at the major-league level.
Overall the prospect pedigree, tools, and reports tempered by his injury status led me to rank Nevin 24th in the system as a potential but far away major-league contributor.