With catcher Robinson Chirinos hitting the disabled list, the Texas Rangers promoted rookie Brett Nicholas to the major league roster this past weekend. Here's a quick take on his background.
Brett Nicholas played college baseball at Gonzaga in 2008, hitting .238/.327/.333 in 63 at-bats as a freshman. He transferred to Scottsdale Community College in 2009, hitting.378/.483/.617 as a sophomore, then moved on to the University of Missouri as a junior in 2010. He hit very well there (.351/.434/.592), earning a spot in the sixth round of the '10 draft by the Rangers.
At the time he was considered a solid and intriguing power hitter but his defense was rough.
Nicholas spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons in the Northwest League, then emerged with a .285/.351/.413 mark in High-A in 2012. He moved to Double-A in 2013 (.289/.357/.474), then spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons in Triple-A, hitting a combined .270/.317/.399 in 863 at-bats for Round Rock in the Pacific Coast League.
Listed at 6-2, 215, Nicholas is a left-handed hitter, age 27. Although he hit 10 homers in 2014 and 12 more in 2015, his production has been below average by PCL standards, with wRC+ marks of 83 and 91. He had a reputation as a disciplined hitter earlier in his career but Triple-A pitching has exposed impatience, with walk rates hovering around 6% and strikeouts around 20%. He does have power and is not a strict pull-type hitter when he gets the ball in the air, but there are a lot of 4-3 grounders on his resume and his relative lack of plate discipline has held his production back.
Nicholas has split the last two seasons between catcher and first base. He's a reliable first baseman but is a mixed bag behind the plate. He is not excessively error-prone and seems to block and receive well in the looks I've had at him, but his throwing is subpar and he's caught just 24% of runners the last two years. Overall I would rate his glove as playable; the throwing is an issue but the rest of his catching game is pretty solid.
His combination of decent defense at first base and catcher plus occasional left-handed power could make Nicholas a useful role player, but his issues with the running game and an over-aggressive hitting approach will likely prevent him from being a regular.