Talk to New York Yankees third base coach and former big leaguer Phil Nevin about the success of his son, and he just might get choked up.
The Orioles acquired Tyler Nevin from the Colorado Rockies as part of the return for right-handed reliever Mychal Givens, whom the Orioles dealt Aug. 30. Nevin, 23, was drafted out of a San Diego-area high school in the 2015 MLB Draft and is a career .286/.362/.441 hitter across five minor-league seasons.
Nevin was added to Baltimore’s 40-man roster and will report to the Orioles’ alternate training site at Double-A Bowie. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Nevin, who has played mostly first base as a pro, spent the 2019 season at Double-A Hartford. He hit .251/.345/.399 with 13 home runs and 26 doubles, which came after a productive stint in the Arizona Fall League the year before.
Phil Nevin has been the Yankees’ third base coach since the 2018 season, and as such, he says he got a chance to see his son play at nearby Hartford eight or nine times in 2019.
“I think last year then more so than ever — probably during the fall league as well, I got to see some of those games and that’s when I finally realized — I’m like, ‘Wow, my kid’s going to play in the big leagues,'” Nevin said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 31 while choking up. “As it becomes closer to a reality … I think we’re all happy. Everybody’s happy that your kid does something he loves to do.”
Whenever Nevin has signed a contract with the Yankees, he’s told GM Brian Cashman that he’d only miss a game to attend his son’s big-league debut. Now, he might not even have to miss a game because the Orioles and Yankees play each other 19 times in a normal 162-game season.
It wouldn’t be the first time a Yankees coach has crossed paths with his son while the latter was playing with the Orioles. Former Yankees first base coach Tony Pena saw his son Francisco play in a big-league game for the first time during a 2016 series at Camden Yards.
Nevin is looking forward to seeing his son debut in the majors regardless of when and where it occurs.
“It’ll be a cool moment, without a doubt — whether I’m across the field or at any point,” Nevin said. “I’m happy he’s with a great organization. I know it’s in a rebuild and I know there’s a lot of things going on. It’s cool to think he may be a part of it. Brandon Hyde’s become a good friend of mine from across the field. I know you’ve got the right guy in charge. He’s positive with those kids even through some tough times that you’ve had the last couple of years. I think it’s starting to show. I really do.”
Nevin was emotional looking back on Tyler’s journey to get to this point. He recalled how his son kept hitting certain benchmarks as an amateur ballplayer — first signing a letter of intent to attend UCLA, then becoming a first-round draft prospect. He spoke about hearing from Tyler’s coaches as well as opposing coaches and umpires in pro ball about his work ethic, attitude and knowledge of the game.
The No. 1 overall pick of the 1992 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros, Phil Nevin played in the big leagues from 1995-2006 and was dealt six times during his career. He stressed to his son that being dealt is an opportunity, and he is confident that Tyler will make the most of it.
“I know what he’s going to do when he gets there. I know he’s going to work. I’ve never worried about that,” Nevin said. “He’s just somebody that really loves being around the baseball field. He loves creating those relationships with his teammates. That’s why [Aug. 31 was] hard — him saying goodbye to some friends, in particular a manager he had for a few years that was going to be his manager in Triple-A. And he said, ‘Dad, the only thing that bums me out is Warren Schaeffer won’t get to tell me I’m going to the big leagues this year.'”
Nevin believes his son was set to continue what he started in the second half at Hartford last year. Tyler hit .277/.360/.490 with nine home runs and 17 doubles from July 1 until the end of the season. Nevin credits adjustments his son made to improve his power production and take better advantage of his solid approach at the plate.
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out Tyler’s chance to build on his second-half success, but now he’s got a new opportunity.
“I was so excited for this coming season. The way things have gone has been frustrating for a lot of people … especially with our young prospects — and obviously my son being one of them — not getting to play, not getting to have those game reps that they desperately need,” Nevin said. “He went down to the alternate camp in Colorado and I told him, ‘Hey, you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities. You have a good one there.’ Now you have an even greater one with Baltimore.”
For more from Phil Nevin, listen to the full interview here: