Friday, January 2, 2004
Updated: January 4, 8:20 PM ET
Rockies prospect Jayson Nix
By John Sickels
Special to ESPN.com
Position: 2B Height: 5-11 Weight: 180 Born: 8/26/82 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Jayson Nix is the brother of Texas Rangers outfielder Laynce Nix. Someone in their family must like the letter "Y." The Rockies drafted Jayson in 2001, out of high school in Midland, Texas, as a supplemental first-round pick, compensation for the failure to sign '00 pick Matt Harrington. A pitcher/shortstop as a prep, Nix moved to second base after signing due to questions about his range. He has good pop for a middle infielder and is one of the better "sleeper" prospects around.
Nix is a good athlete, with surprising strength for his size. He has quick wrists, and like his brother he shows good baseball instincts, with a natural feel for the game. Offensively, he will hammer most fastballs and will usually hold in well against breaking balls. He strikes out too much when he tries too hard to hit for power. That's the main thing he'll need to correct at higher levels. He'll hit for plenty of pop if he just stays within himself and makes contact. Nix has decent speed and shows a knack for stealing bases. Defensively, he has a very strong arm for second base, being a former shortstop. His range is adequate. He made 21 errors last year at Visalia, but his reliability should improve with more experience. Scouts praise his work ethic, and say he is a baseball rat.
Statistically, the most notable thing in his record is his unusual power for a second baseman. He knocked 21 homers last year, but his 46 doubles were equally as impressive. The doubles tied for the minor league lead. That's a sign of further power development to come. His batting averages and on-base percentages aren't terrific, and he projects as a .260-.270 hitter up the ladder. But with enough power production, that's fine, and the thin air in Coors Field will likely boost those numbers. His strikeout rate is high enough to worry me, and it will be extremely interesting to see how well he adjusts to Double-A pitching. He steals bases at a sound percentage and should remain a speed threat at higher levels.
Nix has had no major health concerns.
What to expect
Nix has major breakthrough potential. His power makes him an attractive fantasy investment as a middle infielder and playing in Coors will boost his numbers even further. The main concern is his plate discipline: are the strikeouts a warning that he won't make contact at higher levels or is it a correctable problem that will ease with experience? At this point, we don't know. Personally, I'm inclined to be optimistic about Nix, and I think he's one of the most promising middle infield prospects in the game. He should reach Colorado in late '04 or early '05. We will track his performance in Double-A very closely and will alter his timetable as needed.
John Sickels is the author of the 2004 Baseball Prospect Book, which can be ordered only at his Web site, johnsickels.com. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com.