After a pair of hard throwing right handed pitchers, the prospect countdown brings us back to the positional side of the diamond, with one of Toronto’s top picks from the 2012 draft coming in at #14.
Name: Mitch Nay
Position: Third Base
Date of Birth: 9/20/1993 (19)
Acquired: Selected in the supplemental 1st round of the 2012 draft ($1,000,000 USD)
High School: Hamilton High School (Chandler, Arizona)
College: Had commitment to Arizona State
Height/Weight: 6’3”/195 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- 2012 Rawlings 2nd Team All American
- 2012 West Region 1st team
- 2012 Arizona Baseball Player of the Year (presented by Gatorade)
2012 Statistics and Analysis
32 G, .380/.520/.837 (1.357 OPS), 33 R, 11 HR, 31 RBI
Nay didn’t suit up for any Blue Jays affiliates last summer, so the options for the 2012 statistics and analysis section are rather limited. As with most high school players, finding an accurate and comprehensive statistical line for Nay’s senior high school year proved difficult, and the above is the best I could find. You can’t look too much into the batting average for contact ability, as good hitting prospects will always crush high school pitching, and we don’t have the strikeout total to see what was occurring when he wasn’t stroking a base hit. What is very clear is that Nay has all kinds of power, as evident by his 11 home runs in 32 games. Incredibly, he managed this despite a horrible start to the season, during which scouts could visually identify that Nay was pressing too much while trying to carry his team on his back. The numbers are actually a step below his breakout performance as a junior in 2010/2011 (.495 with 14 home runs).
Additional video via ESPN.com:
Nay sets himself with a very wide base at the plate in a slightly crouched and open stance, with his hands locked low. He takes a substantial stride when preparing to swing, a stride that Perfect Game describes as out of line. Instead of moving straight forward towards the pitcher, his stride opens his front shoulder. While that gives tremendous power potential to his pull field, it results in a long swing and makes him extremely susceptible to pitches that break away, such as a slider or cutter from a right handed pitcher. There is no questioning the bat speed, however, as Perfect Game gives him a plus grade in that department and applauds the extension he generates with his arms.
The raw power is what makes Mitch Nay the prospect that he is. In addition to the mechanics mentioned above, Keith Law speaks to Nay’s excellent hip rotation which helps boost the power even further. Law and Baseball America are in agreement that he has plus power potential because of his natural gifts, but Perfect Game takes it a step further: “He can take the ball out of the park deep in the alleys and doesn’t need to square up the ball to get it to travel. The ball makes ‘that’ sound according to scouts when Nay squares it up, though, and that’s a sound one doesn’t hear frequently, even on top prospects.” Furthermore, Nay is still young and has room to add more muscle to his frame as he develops, which could continue to augment the power, should his hit tool be accommodating.
As with most young power hitters, that’s where the questions arise. The mechanics that create so much torque in Nay’s swing also negatively impact his plate coverage, and while he was able to get away with it at the high school level, professional level pitching is another beast. All publications I have read are in agreement that Nay is going to need to make adjustments moving forward, and the debate is whether or not he’ll hit enough to allow the power to blossom in-game. Thankfully for Blue Jays fans, Nay is an excellent student (4.30 high school GPA) and has baseball bloodlines (his grandfather, Lou Klimchock, spent parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues), so he should be very receptive to instruction. It would be difficult to project anything more than average potential on the hit tool at this point, and without any professional reviews, even that might be a tad optimistic.
The defensive reports have similar question marks, as while Nay is currently listed as a third baseman, there are already suggestions he may eventually move to right field. Keith Law of ESPN believes it’s a forgone conclusion; however Baseball America and Perfect Game think he could stick at the hot corner if he works on improving his hands and footwork, as he’s currently far too reliant upon his plus-calibre arm to bail him out of mistakes (PG estimates his infield velocity at 90 mph). Nay has below average straight line speed and will never be much of an asset on the base paths.
The perfect world projection for Mitch Nay would be an everyday third baseman; second division starter.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
Nay dealt with a pair of injuries last season – a broken hamate bone in his left wrist and a lower back strain – but with those in the rear view mirror he should be set to make his professional debut in short season ball this summer. As a 19 year old, I don’t expect the organization will force him to the Gulf Coast League. Matt Dean, Christian Lopes, and Dwight Smith Jr. were among the 2011 big-bonus draft picks that didn’t suit up until the following year – and did so with Bluefield – and I suspect the trend will continue with Nay. There’s no questioning his power, but his baseball skills definitely need a lot of refinement and without a doubt it’s going to take some time. The hit questions I detailed above immediately thrust Nay into the high risk category, and even if the development goes as smooth as can be realistically expected, it’s hard to see an ETA earlier than the stretch run of the 2016 season.