- Full name Michael James Nickeas
- Born 02/13/1983 in Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Georgia Tech
- Debut 09/04/2010
Drafted in the 5th round (141st overall) by the Texas Rangers in 2004 (signed for $200,000).
View Draft ReportGeorgia Tech was surging as the season came to a close, with the help of some of its draft-eligible veterans. C Mike Nickeas is a fundamentally sound defender with average catch-and-throw skills and an athletic background. Born in Canada and raised in California, his English-born father was a professional soccer player; despite his international background, Nickeas caught for Team USA last summer and as a prep player on the junior national team. Nickeas has average tools across the board, though he's a below-average runner. He struggled at the plate this season, with his average and slugging numbers down considerably from 2003. He isn't afraid to draw a walk, but scouts say he's been passive at the plate this season.
Organization Prospect Rankings
When it became clear that they did not see Victor Diaz as part of their long-term plan, the Mets sent Diaz to Texas in exchange for Nickeas. Born in Canada, Nickeas' British father played for Vancouver in the North American Soccer League. Nickeas' spent most of his childhood in California though, and he played for the U.S. national team in both high school and college but fell to the fifth round of the 2004 draft when he slumped as a junior. After a strong debut the Rangers aggressively promoted him to Double-A for his first full season because they wanted him to work with their better pitching prospects, he struggled terribly with the bat and has yet to recover offensively. Nickeas' strength is his defense, however, and he's a sound receiver with soft hands, good blocking instincts and a solid arm. As a hitter, Nickeas has good knowledge of the strike zone but doesn't make hard contact consistently. He's a bit stiff at the plate and it doesn't appear he'll hit enough to become a regular behind the plate. He missed time with a hamstring pull in 2006, and he's a below-average runner even when healthy. His defense and leadership should allow him to be a prototypical backup catcher and he'll likely spend some more time at Double-A in 2007. With Jesus Flores taken by the Nationals in the Rule 5 draft, Nickeas ranks as the best catcher in the system.
Nickeas' father Mark played professional soccer in the North American Soccer League and in England, and Mike is athletic for a thick-bodied catcher. But it was his outstanding makeup more than his physical ability that landed him a spot on the U.S. national team in both high school and college. His strong leadership skills and game-calling ability also led Texas to jump him to Double-A in 2005. Though Nickeas was over his head offensively, the Rangers wanted him to work with their better pitching prospects. He's a good receiver with sound blocking instincts, soft hands and an average arm. He threw out 43 percent of basestealers last year and didn't let his offensive woes carry over to his defense. Nickeas struggled at the plate all year and missed all of June and half of July after a foul ball broke his right hand. He has a bit of power, but his stiff swing has too many moving parts and he profiles as a below-average hitter. He did go 17-for-40 (.425) in the Arizona Fall League, suggesting he'll be more ready to handle Texas League pitching the second time around.
Nickeas has an athletic background. His father, who is British, was a professional soccer player whose career took him to Canada, where he met Nickeas' mother. He was born in Canada but grew up in California, and he played for U.S. national teams both in high school and college. His makeup and leadership qualities led to his repeat stint with Team USA, as did his sound catch-and-throw skills. The Rangers liked him going into the 2004 season and were able to wait until the fifth round to snare him because he struggled at the plate for Georgia Tech. Scouts thought Nickeas was better with the bat than he showed, yet still he surprised club officials with his production in his pro debut despite running out of gas late in the summer. He has decent power, and he's capable of driving balls to the opposite field and hitting 10-15 homers a year. He knows the strike zone and draws walks, but he doesn't always make consistent contact. He's fairly athletic for his position, cerebral as a catcher should be and handles pitchers well. Nickeas is the best catcher in the system and could move quickly, possibly jumping to high Class A in 2005.
Minor League Top Prospects
Nothing about Nickeas' overall game jumped out at managers, but they also had a hard time finding faults and he was regarded as at least average in nearly every category. He calls a decent game, possesses solid arm strength, displays good hands and blocks balls adequately. Nickeas swings aggressively in the strike zone and shows power when he jumps into a pitch he wants. He can drive a ball the opposite way, but also strikes out more than some might like. He tied for third in the league in RBIs. Managers think he'll hit 10 to 20 home runs a year. "Defensively, he's solid," Strain said. "He hit enough. I don't think he's an offensive catcher, but he's got plenty of bat to get to the big leagues."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Mets in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Mets in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Mets in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Texas Rangers in 2005