Rockies Nevin Healthy: Physically, Mentally and On the Field
SCOTTSDALE, Az. – Life is good for Tyler Nevin.
He is coming off an impact season with the Rockies High-A Lancaster affiliate where he hit .328, second best in the California League, with career highs in doubles (25), home runs (13), and most of all games played (100).
And he is building on that success in the Arizona Fall League, where he is leading the league in hitting, just ahead of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., the top-ranked prospect in baseball, who is in line for a starting job with the big-league Blue Jays next spring. Playing three out of six games each week, he even leads the AFL in RBI with 14, and has hit safely in all nine games in which he has played.
Earlier this week, he was selected the AFL Player of the Week.
It is, said Nevin, about time.
The 38th player selected in the 2015 first-year player draft, Nevin has been slowed in development by a series of injuries that limited him to 83 games combined his first two full season in pro ball. There was a hamstring injury so severe that Nevin played only one game – getting one at-bat, in which he doubled – at short-season A Boise in 2016. And then came broken bone in his hand on a “fluke swing” that allowed him to play only 82 games between Boise (six games) and low-A Asheville in 2017.
Then came 2018, and the trip to Lancaster. He had a minor quad injury in 2018, but that was nothing compared to the two previous seasons. And with the chance to get regular playing time, the potential scouting director Bill Schmidt and area scout Jon Lukens saw when Nevin was at Poway (Ca.) High School back in 2015 was on dsplay.
“Obviously, Schmidty knew what he had when he drafted him, in terms of the tools,” said Zach Wilson, senior director of player development. “It’s difficult to transfer those tools and skills when you are not on the field. … This year he was able to get some real development time, and the Fall League only expands that opportunity,
“He is finally able to show what he can do and improve in the ways he needs to improve.”
The first thing was to add versatility. A quality third base prospect, he began working at first base this year, and has focused on first base in the AFL. It’s the Rockies way of creating options, instead of pigeon-holing a player in one spot, where he could get blocked in his bid to get to the big leagues.
Just like the decision to send him to the AFL was built around getting Nevin more playing time, but more importantly to provide him a chance to face more advanced pitching to see how he handles that.
No problem. That .469 average he took into Wednesday’s games is evidence of that.
“Everybody can say what they want, but I guarantee you, there is nobody more frustrated than me,” said Nevin. “That is 100 percent truth. Every time something like that has happened nobody was more upset, more disappointed, more bothered than I was.”
And that’s why Nevin was so eager to adopt a workout program designed to strengthen his lower body.
“Strengthening, but there’s also stretching, massaging, proper routines with the trainers,” he said. “I guarantee you nobody in the big leagues just rolls on the field every day with no treatment. Everybody, in their own sense, has their own way of going about it. Some people just have to figure it out a little earlier than others.
“Unfortunately, that’s what I had to do, but in the long run I think it is going to benefit me. I have had that learning curve in how to take care of my body. I would have rather avoided being hurt, but I have learned a lot of lessons throughout this process.”
His mother has helped him develop a workout program. A former nurse, she “has a good knowledge of how the body works, and she did physical therapy programs, too. And my dad went through injuries in his career.”
His father, Phil Nevin, was drafted by the Astros with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 draft. His physical challenges came at the big-league level, unlike Tyler’s challenge in his initial pro seasons.
An All-Star in 2001 when he hit 41 home runs and drove in 126 runs, Phil Nevin suffered a strained left elbow in 2002 and three games after returning to the lineup broke his left arm, trying to make a diving stop of a ground ball. In 2002 he dislocated his left shoulder making a diving catch in spring training.
“He’s been beneficial for me as a person and ballplayer,” said Tyler. “He has always been very supportive, very helpful. He always puts the attention on us. He doesn’t drag his past and his successes into us.
“It’s never, `Oh, when I played, this is what. … It’s not like he is going out of his way, bragging about himself, making you feel to have to live up to that.”
Tyler grins when it is mentioned that for all he has been through, he is still only 21, having signed out of high school, the same age his father was when he was drafted out of Cal State Fullerton by the Astros, and four years younger than his father was when he made his big-league debut.
Tyler had interest from UCLA when he came out of high school, but was focused on signing a pro contract.
“My mom put it in a great way when I was weighing my options,” said Nevin. “She said. `You know, bottom line, you are going to school because you want to play baseball. You can do school whenever you want, but you get one shot at baseball.’”
Having grown up in a baseball family, he also was ready for life on the buses in the minor leagues.
“I felt I was mature enough as a player, as a person, to handle it,” said Nevin. “Going back to my dad and how he helped me, I followed him throughout the minor leagues as a player and when he has been coaching. I had seen minor league life. I knew what I was getting into. I have never looked back and said, `I should have gone to school.’ I am 100 percent confident I made the right decision.”
And the way he has played this year, when he has been healthy, has reinforced his confidence in his choice.
The Nevin Files
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