A Healthy Mitch Nay Shows What He Can Do

Unlike a trade or waiver pickup, teams don’t get a look at full medicals before picking in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

A simple look at 24-year-old third baseman Mitch Nay‘s statistics showed he hadn’t played much over the past two seasons, but for the Reds, “the talent trumped the risk,” according to farm director Jeff Graupe.

Nay was a supplemental first-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2012 out of high school in Arizona, but a staph infection in his knee required three surgeries between August and November of 2015.

He played in just eight games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2016, then logged 61 games at low Class A Lansing in 2017, batting .222/.265/.393 with a career-high 10 home runs.

What the Reds saw was Nay’s size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), strength and athleticism to take a chance, according to Graupe.

After the Reds took Nay in the Rule 5, Graupe said he immediately got to work with the Reds’ training staff in Arizona. Because Nay lives in the state, he was able to get with Brad Epstein, the Reds’ director of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

By the time Nay reported for spring training this year, he was in great shape and he showed it at high Class A Daytona. He led all Reds minor leaguers in April with 31 hits, five home runs, 27 RBIs and a .614 slugging percentage. The righthanded hitter also had the second-highest batting average (.352).  

While Nay is a little older than the average Florida State League player, Graupe notes his injury history means he doesn’t have as much experience as someone his age would normally have.

Despite his size, Nay is a capable third baseman, Graupe said, and he’s also played some first base for the Tortugas.

>> Top prospect Nick Senzel was removed from a game at Triple-A Louisville with dizziness in early May. Senzel missed the end of the 2017 season with vertigo.

>> Daytona righthander Tony Santillan got off to a fast start by going 3-1, 1.28 through his first seven starts of the season. He had 38 strikeouts and 10 walks over 42 innings.

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