Almost an Astro, Nix ready to join Padres
Right-hander selected by San Diego in third round of Draft
SAN DIEGO -- Jacob Nix admits he was upset when he wasn't selected Monday during Day 1 of the 2015 Draft.
But if Nix, a right-handed pitcher, learned anything about the Draft from his initial foray into it a year ago, it's that you have to be prepared for anything.
"You control what you control, and whatever happens, happens," Nix said Tuesday afternoon from his home in Southern California.
Nix's phone rang early Tuesday, with the Padres informing him they selected him with their first pick of the day, the 86th overall pick (third round). This wasn't happenstance.
"We had been talking to the Padres going into it, but I didn't think I would even get to their first pick [No. 51]. I was a little upset that first day," Nix said. "So we had an idea if I did get to No. 86 I would have something worked out with them."
In Nix, the Padres get a big arm -- he's 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and can throw in the mid-90s -- and someone who has been on their radar for a while, going back to before the Draft a year ago, when the Astros took him in the fifth round, setting off a wild chain of events.
After pitching at Los Alamitos High School, south of Los Angeles, Nix had an agreement in place to sign with the Astros, but the deal fell through when Houston was unable to sign No. 1 overall pick, Brady Aiken.
Nix went as far as to travel to Houston for a physical, but that deal wasn't finalized after Aiken's original $6.5 million offer was withdrawn after Aiken's physical revealed what the club cited as some issues with his pitching elbow. The Astros later offered Aiken a $5 million contract, but he declined and Nix wound up without an offer due to the reduced pool of signing bonus money.
Rather than exceed the dollars allotted for Nix's Draft slot and get penalized by the forfeiture of future Draft choices, the Astros wound up not signing Nix. The MLB Players Association filed a grievance on Nix's behalf with Major League Baseball. The grievance was eventually dropped, as Nix and the Astros reached an undisclosed settlement in December.
"That whole situation made me grow up a lot … and quick," Nix said. "I'm honestly glad I didn't start my pro career last year. I would have gotten eaten alive. This way, I got to work on mechanics, my secondary pitches."
In January, Nix enrolled in IMG Academy's post-graduate program for spring 2015 semester and played for the academy's post-graduate team in Bradenton, Fla.
San Diego area scout Chris Kelly, who covers western Florida, saw Nix three times and said that he was impressed the very first time he saw him.
"The kid is a big, physical guy with a power arm," Kelly said. "I've seen him up to 96 [mph] with loose, easy arm action and delivery. He has a good feel for a changeup and will show the makings of an above-average curveball.
"When this kid is on his game, he can be overpowering. [There's] still plenty of upside with this kid and he has all the ingredients to be a solid starting pitcher in the Major Leagues."
Kelly liked something else he saw from Nix, an intangible that resonated with him.
"I also liked how he had handled all the adversity from last year and thought he would be able to handle the ups and downs of pro ball," Kelly said.
Nix said he grew up an Angels fan because of the proximity of Angel Stadium to his home. But he's happy to remain in Southern California and is finally ready to start his professional career.
"I think we'll for sure work something out," Nix said. "I don't have a college scholarship to fall back on. I was ready to sign last year … and I'm still ready."