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Outstanding player, better kid

04/06/2015, 3:00pm PDT
By John Maffei

Poway's Tyler Nevin has learned from his famous father Phil Nevin

Poway senior Tyler Nevin has bounced back after missing last season with Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

— As the son of a big-league ballplayer, Tyler Nevin has had all the advantages.

He has had the best instruction, the best equipment.

"But the thing that makes me most proud, is the way he treats people," said former Padres third baseman Phil Nevin, who now manages Triple-A Reno in the Diamondbacks organization. "Tyler respects the game and his teammates.

"There are two different kind of kids that evolve from being sons of big leaguers. One is the kid who takes the game and his talents for granted.

"The other is the kid who takes his God-given talent and works his butt off."

Tyler Nevin, a third baseman, is the latter, a player who knows he has good genes, but isn't afraid to work.

Phil Nevin was the Golden Spikes winner - college baseball's best player - at Cal State Fullerton, was the first pick of the Major League Baseball Draft in 1992 and hit 208 home runs in the big league - 156 in seven years with the Padres, 41 of those in 2001.

Tyler's mother, Kristin, was an outstanding softball player at Cal State Fullerton.

"I've been doing this 15 years, and Tyler is the best kid I've ever coach," said Poway High hitting coach Deron Johnson, himself the son of a former big leaguer.

"Tyler could be a real terd, but he's a great kid who listens, works and leads."

Said Poway head coach Bob Parry, "Tyler has every right to be entitled, but he's the best kid - not just the best player - but the best kid on our team. He has stepped up as a player and a leader."

Nevin wasn't able to lead last season, missing the entire campaign after having Tommy John elbow surgery on his right arm.

He suffered the injury as a sophomore when he was the Titans closer.

"That was a struggle, Nevin said of last season. "I was able to swing a bat before I could throw. But there is only so much batting practice you can take.

"Not playing was a crushing blow. I was at practices and games, I just couldn't strap it on and play.

"I'm 100 percent now, but my pitching days are over."

Nevin hit .336 with a home run, five doubles, two triples and 26 RBIs as a sophomore.

UCLA coach John Savage saw enough to offer Nevin a scholarship and the player accepted.

"Tyler is a very advanced right-handed hitter who has very good defensive skills," Savage said. "He has a chance to be a player who can have a big impact with the bat as a freshman.

"He also has a plus make up."

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Nevin might never play for the Bruins.

Since he didn't play last season, professional scouts are trying to catch up on him, do their homework.

He hasn't disappointed, hitting .452 with a homer, five doubles and five RBIs.

Hitting leadoff or second in the lineup, he leads the team with 12 runs scored, has stolen three bases and has hit in 11 of 12 games and has just two errors.

Steve Vickery, who won 647 games in 33 years as head coach at El Capitan High, said Nevin "keeps the bat in the hitting zone longer than any player since Eric Chavez."

Chavez was a first-round pick of the Oakland A's in 1996 out of Mt. Carmel. He went on to play 17 years and hit 260 home runs in the big leagues.

"That's quite a compliment coming from a man as respected as Steve Vickery," Tyler Nevin said.

MLB Draft Countdown ranks Nevin as the No. 6 prospect at third base.

Scouts love his swing, speed and arm strength. They believe the power will come as he matures.

"I've been blessed with ability, and I believe I'm growing to my potential," Nevin said. "I've known since I was about 8 that baseball is what I wanted to do.

"I was able to travel with my dad when he was with the Cubs (2006) and was the bat boy for a lot of games.

"Now that he's managing, I've spent summers with him in Erie, Toledo and Reno."

Those summers, Phil Nevin feels, are what helped shape his son.

"Where Tyler learned the most is sitting next to me in minor-league dugouts," Phil Nevin said. "I've never pushed Tyler or his brother Kyle.

"I've seen dads push talented sons and have those kids burn out at 11 or 12.

"Of course, if my boys ask for help, I'm right there. And his mother has done a great job keeping him grounded. Any success Tyler has is a credit to her, too.

"Tyler has seen life in the minors.

"Those experiences will impact his decision-making process with the draft, whether he signs or goes to UCLA."

Tyler Nevin is wide open on the June 8 draft.

"I can't go wrong - UCLA or pro ball," he said. "My dad was drafted out of high school (3rd round by the L.A. Dodgers), but chose to go to college.

"But he was only 5-10 and about 150 pounds. I'm 6-4 and 200. He needed college.

"I'm going to see what happens in the draft, and we'll make a decision."


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