Prospect Nevin morphing into 4-corner player

November 22nd, 2019

DENVER -- Headshots in a baseball cap make Rockies prospect Tyler Nevin hard to tell apart from his father, , the Yankees’ third-base coach. But Tyler’s lean, athletic frame comes from his mother – Kristin Nevin, who met Phil while starring in volleyball at Cal State Fullerton.

“Facially and mannerisms, me and my dad are very identical, but as far as physical body, I think I take more after my mom,” said Nevin, the Rockies’ No. 11 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. “She is tall and lanky. He’s a stronger, stout-looking guy.”

The 6-foot-4, 22-year-old Nevin played a career-high 130 games at Double-A Hartford in 2019, with a .251/.345/.399 slash line with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. The Rockies rewarded him this week with a spot on the 40-man Major League roster.

An adjustment, which involved a slight spreading and lowering of the stance, over the final six weeks to find more power from his own frame, which is two inches taller than his dad’s, produced a torrid finish -- a .942 OPS, including a .588 slugging percentage and eight home runs in his final 32 games.

Thanks, mom.

“It was getting into my back hip and truly loading, as opposed to just transferring weight when getting ready to hit,” said Nevin, who was selected 38th overall in 2015. “I was really ready to unleash and explode in a way that I knew would be developing and producing damage.

“My dad and I have very different swings. He was a guy that liked to stand up real tall. He had a very violent swing. He had a little hitch, a hover -- a lot like [Trevor] Story does. In a lot of respects, we have very different swings.”

With Nevin finding more damage with the swing, the Rockies are finding more uses for his athletic ability.

The Rockies replaced their September instructional program with a November developmental camp for about 30 position players in the organization at Scottsdale, Ariz., which concludes Friday. Nevin began playing some corner outfield at Hartford, and he has played almost exclusively in left field and right field during the program at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Nevin showed immediate ability to track down balls, and adjusted to the throws to become a four-corner player.

“I was just telling somebody the other day if you watch him work out there, whether it’s just drill work or taking live balls off the bat during batting practice, you’d never know the difference,” said Zach Wilson, the Rockies’ assistant general manager, player development. “that’s how far he’s come in a very short amount of time.

“He’s a very good athlete. Offensively, he finished extremely strong that last month-and-a-half, and defensively he has made some great additions and adjustments to who he is as a defender.”

November camp notes

• Rockies No. 6 prospect Ryan Vilade, the team’s top pick in 2017 (second round, 48th overall), also is learning corner outfield spots. He hit .303 with 12 homers and 71 RBIs as a shortstop at Class A Advanced Lancaster.

Heading into his age 21 season, the 6-2 Vilade is still growing and becoming stronger. But Wilson said this is not a position switch or some acknowledgement that he has somehow outgrown shortstop.

“People back in the same time frame,” Wilson said, “would have said Trevor [Story] was not going to be able to play short -- he’s going to be too big, not agile enough or whatever. And, in my opinion, he’s the best overall shortstop in the National League.

“Who knows where Ryan is going to end up. But I do know adding right and left field to him is only going to help him and only going to help us.”

• Denver native Max George, who will turn 24 on April 7, was given intense work at catcher. Drafted in 2014 as an infielder, George switched to catcher last spring and batted .241 at Rookie-level Grand Junction and Class A Asheville.

“He had a good year this year behind the plate and is really becoming an excellent receiver and excellent, excellent blocker,” said Wilson, who added that Austin Bernard (10th-round pick in 2017, likely ticketed for Hartford) also has trained in the camp.

• As with past September instructional camps, the bulk of the players were recent draft picks.