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Thoughts on San Diego Padres rookie Jacob Nix

Young right-hander will debut this evening

San Diego Padres Photo Day Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The San Diego Padres will give right-hander Jacob Nix his first major league start tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies at Petco Park. Here’s a quick update.

Nix came to prominence as one of the top high school pitchers in the 2014 draft. At one point he was a potential first-rounder but he fell to the fifth round where he was selected by the Houston Astros. An above-slot bonus agreement was initially reached but Houston’s failure to sign first-rounder Brady Aiken meant they no longer had enough bonus money available to sign Nix. Re-negotiations failed and Nix re-entered the draft pool for 2015, where he was selected in the third round by the Padres.

Nix ranked 15th on the pre-season San Diego Padres Top 20 prospects for 2018 list with this comment:

15) Jacob Nix, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, third round pick in 2015 from IMG Academy; posted 4.67 ERA in 94 innings between High-A and Double-A, 73/19 K/BB, 110 hits; an odd duck at this point, fastball can get up to 96, flashes a plus curveball and decent change-up and throws strikes; his control (avoiding walks) is better than his command (hitting your locations within the strike zone) and he sometimes seems to lack deception; game logs show mixture of dominant outings with terrible ones and not much in between; still a possible workhorse starter although he might be more dominant on a per-inning basis if used in bullpen. ETA 2019.

His 2018 season was delayed by a spring training groin injury but he’s been excellent since returning to action, posting a 1.84 ERA in 58.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year, with a sharp 44/9 K/BB with 44 hits allowed.

Nix is listed at 6-4, 220, age 22. He’s always shown good control in the sense of avoiding walks but has taken a step forward with his ability to locate to specific spots this year. The fastball can get into the mid-90s and reports indicate that both his curveball and change-up have been more consistent this year. Certainly his performance has been more consistent, as he’s avoided the occasional bad “blow up” games that impacted his previous seasons. His strikeout rate has remained level; in general he is not overpowering but his walks are down to just 1.5 per nine.

The general consensus sees Nix as a possible number three or strong number four starter. I think that’s right.