Results tagged ‘ Mendoza Line ’

Post Hype Prospect – Phil Nevin

The 1992 Major League Baseball Rule IV draft was an amazing draft.  A number of notable players were taken in the first two rounds: Derek Jeter (Yankees, 1st round/6th overall pick), Jason Kendall (Pirates, 1/23), Johnny Damon (Royals, 1s/35), Todd Helton (Padres, 2/55– though he didn’t sign), Jason Giambi (A’s, 2/58), and John Lynch (Marlins, 2/66 – you know him better as the hard-hitting safety for the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

As you may have noticed, the #1 overall pick was not mentioned (in fact, none of the top five picks were mentioned), as he did not live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him.  Phil Nevin was the #1 overall pick in 1992.

After graduating from El Dorado High School in Placetina, California, Nevin was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 82nd overall (3rd round) pick of the 1989 draft and offered $100,000 to play baseball professionally.  Nevin chose to attend college at Cal State Fullerton.  In 1992, Nevin was awarded the NCAA Division I Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s best amateur baseball player and earned the MVP of the 1992 College World Series.  The Houston Astros selected Nevin with the first overall pick of the 1992 draft.  This pick was not without controversy, even within the Astros organization.  Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser, a scout within the Astros organization, was so upset that the Astros did not pick Derek Jeter that he quit the organization and retired from baseball for good.

Nevin did not sign immediately, as he had more important things on his mind – he was the starting third baseman for Team USA at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Nevin immediately showed his talent in 1993.  After being ranked the #30 prospect by Baseball America, Nevin put up a 286/359/413 line for the Tuscon Toros, the Astros’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.  In 1994, Nevin again returned to the Toros, as the Astros still had Ken Caminiti as their starting third baseman.   Ranked #24 by Baseball America, Nevin seemed to stagnate in Tuscon, putting up a 263/343/393 line.

In 1995, the Astros dealt Caminiti with a number of other players (including Steve Finley) to the San Diego Padres for a number of players (including Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, and Phil Plantier).  Despite third base opening up and being ranked #59 by Baseball America, Nevin began the year back with the Toros.  After putting up a 291/367/463 line in AAA, Nevin was promoted to the Astros.  Appearing in 18 games, Nevin put up a 117/221/133 line that would even embarrass Mario Mendoza.  Nevin got into a shouting match with Manager Terry Collins and, on August 15, the Astros dealt Nevin to the Detroit Tigers to complete a previous trade for Mike Henneman (who was a pretty decent closer for the Tigers at the time, finishing his career with 193 saves and a 3.21 ERA).

Nevin was assigned to the Toledo Mun Hens of the International League, the Tigers’ AAA affiliate.  Nevin was brought up when rosters expanded in September, and put up a 219/318/33 line, primarily playing left field.  With Travis Fryman firmly ensconced at third base, Nevin, no longer considered a rookie and therefore ineligible for prospect ranking, was sent to the Jacksonville Suns, the Tigers’ AA affiliate in the Southern League.  Nevin finally put up big numbers, putting up a robust 294/397/561 for the Suns.  Though primarily a third baseman who played some left field and first base, spent 62 of his 98 games playing catcher, a position entirely foreign to him.  In August, Nevin made his first big league appearance of the year for the Tigers.  Primarily playing third base, Nevin put up a solid 292/338/533 line in 130 plate appearances.

In November 1997, Nevin was dealt to the Anaheim Angels with Matt Walbeck for Nick Skuse.  In 75 games for the Angels, Nevin hit an unimpressive 228/291/371.  Traded on the eve of the regular season, Nevin was dealt again, this time to the San Diego Padres with Keith Volkman for Gus Kennedy and Andy Sheets.  Nevin seemed to bloom in San Diego, putting up a 269/352/527 line across 441 plate appearances while playing third base and catching.  As San Diego’s starting third baseman, Nevin put up a 303/374/543 line in 2000 and 306/388/588 line in 2001 while making his first All Star Game.  In 2002, Nevin strained his arm in May, just three days after his return, Nevin fractured his humerus, missing the next six weeks of the season.  Nevin put up a 285/344/413 line in 2002, followed by a 279/339/487 2003 campaign where he missed four months of the season after dislocating his left shoulder in Spring Training.  Nevin was healthy again in 2004, primarily playing first base and putting up a 289/368/492 line, Nevin’s last big season.  In May, Nevin was accused of spewing a string of vulgarities in front of young fans, including the man’s 8-year-old daughter in Philadelphia.  After taking a called third strike, Nevin was heckled by the historically foul-mouthed Philadelphians and responded in a manner he later conceded to be “unprofessional.”

In 2005, at the age of 34, Nevin began to decline.  After putting up a 256/301/399 line in 73 games for the Padres, Nevin was dealt to the Texas Rangers for Chan Ho Park and cash, where he put up a 182/250/323 line in 29 games.  In 2006, Nevin hit 216/301/415 for the Rangers, then was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for Jerry Hairston, Jr., where he seemed to rebound, putting up a 274/335/497 line over 67 games.  At the trading deadline, Nevin was dealt with cash to the Minnesota Twins for Adam Harben.  Nevin finished the season with a 190/340/286 line in 16 games for the Twins.

After that inauspicious ending to the season, Nevin never played another inning of professional baseball.  Formally announcing his retirement in May 2007, Nevin began working pre-game shows for the Padres, then worked for ESPN as a college baseball analyst in 2008.  In 2009, Nevin was the manager of the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.  In 2010, Nevin managed the Erie SeaWolves, the AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.  In 2011, Nevin managed the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers’ AAA affiliate, where he still manages today.

So what happened to Nevin?  He never came close to the lofty expectations placed on a first overall draft pick, but he had a solid career, putting up a 270/343/472 career line (career 114 OPS+) across 1217 games and turning into a top managerial prospect.  Of course, the real vindication was for Hal Newhouser, as the best player in the 1992 draft was, by nearly 20 career WAR, Derek Jeter.


%d bloggers like this: