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First Full Season a Success for 3B Mitch Nay

Nay shows why he's the Blue Jays 7th top prospect

First Full Season a Success for 3B Mitch Nay

September 11, 2014

Mitch Nay experienced his first full season of professional baseball. (MLBlogs.com)

Mitch Nay experienced his first full season of professional baseball in 2014. (MLBlogs.com)

The 2014 season marked the first full season for Toronto Blue Jays third base prospect Mitch Nay. Many young baseball players look forward to the opportunity of playing a full 140-game minor league season, but the opportunity can also be nerve-wracking with the uncertainty surrounding how they will adjust to the increased workload of a full season schedule.

Nay understood these mixed emotions clearly. Currently ranked as the 7th best Blue Jays prospect by MLB, the third baseman competed in 120 Midwest League games with the Lansing Lugnuts and 11 Florida State League games with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2014.

“It was a long year being my first full year,” said Nay. “My season’s had a few ups and downs, but more adjustment than anything, which I expected. My final couple weeks in Lansing I felt a lot more comfortable in the field, as well as at the plate. I figured out what worked for me this season. It took roughly three months to figure out, but once I found it, the confidence went up as well.”

Often, the biggest obstacle players encounter when first playing a full season is fatigue. But for Nay, it wasn’t as much of a concern as he had anticipated.

“My first full season had some surprises. At the beginning of the year I thought August would roll around and I would have trouble getting out of bed, but it’s not like that at all,” he added. “The cold weather in April took a little getting used to being from Arizona. At the end of the day, it’s just baseball. 140-game schedule and we all need to get used to it. There have been a few times I was tired, but I pushed through it. We all did.”

Indeed, the overall adjustment to full-season ball didn’t seem to hamper the third baseman as Nay was one of Lansing’s best hitters all season. The Arizona native batted .273 with 11 doubles, three triples, two home runs, and 34 RBIs in the first half of the season, and sported an excellent .339 OBP and .365 slugging percentage from April to mid-June. His performance enabled him to be named the starting third baseman for the East team in the Midwest League All-Star Game. As can be expected, it was an exciting moment for the young prospect.

“Being a Midwest League All-Star was fun. It was cool meeting all the guys on both squads,” Nay recalls. “It was a great experience to be able to meet guys that were in the same position you’re in. It was a good venue at West Michigan. The competition was excellent and I had a lot of fun.”

It’s a long season and you get better doing the same thing every day.

The confidence of playing in his first professional All-Star game really showed in the second half of the season, as Nay put up excellent numbers from late June to late August. He batted .299 with 23 doubles, a home run, and 25 RBIs in his second half in Lansing, not only raising his batting average, but also raising his on-base-percentage to .344 and his raising his slugging percentage over 50 points to .415.

Reflecting on his progress through the season, Nay indicated that he was content with how he developed over the season, both offensively and defensively.

“April and May weren’t my best production months,” Nay remembers. “When June came around I started to feel a lot better at the plate. I know people expect a lot of power out of me and I’m working on it. With that said, I’m really satisfied with the number of doubles I’ve hit. It was a learning year for me and I’m very happy with the results.”

“I’ve come a long way at third base from April to September,” said Nay. “Every month I have been in pro ball I’ve got a little better. The game is starting to slow down for me. I feel more comfortable making the plays and throws. Playing third [base] feels more routine now from repetition. It’s a long season and you get better doing the same thing every day. I’m really happy with my development defensively this season.”

Excited for the growth and development Mitch Nay made in 2014, hitting coach Ken Huckaby discussed what stood out about Nay’s 2014 campaign.

“Nay developed a lot between last year and this year,” Huckaby said. “He has matured a lot as a player and is becoming more of an independent thinker. When that happens, good things happen as well.”

Equally excited for the opportunity to be mentored for a second consecutive season by Huckaby, Nay pointed out that working with the same hitting coach in back-to-back years was a great benefit for him and one of the reasons he found success in 2014.

“I know Huckaby pretty well at this point,” explained Nay. “He knows what works for me and what doesn’t. I think the familiarity there is good. It’s been a great two years. We’ve experienced a lot of good things together. He’s a good hitting coach and I’ve really enjoyed learning from him.”

Nay’s great numbers in Lansing earned him a late season promotion to high-A. He joined the Dunedin Blue Jays in late August and appeared in 11 regular season contests, plus the D-Jay’s two playoff games. Nay collected seven hits in his first 37 Florida State League at-bats, which included a double and a RBI.

The young third baseman’s promotion was excellent for Dunedin in their two playoff games. Nay was the Blue Jays best hitter going 4-for-8, with a double, a home run, and three RBIs. The 21-year old also carried an excellent .500/.500/1.000 line in the Florida State League playoffs, definitely a great sign moving forward.

It’s safe to say, Nay has turned a lot of heads in his first full season and with his 2014 season is in the books, he is focused to finding success in 2015.

“In the off-season I work out a lot. I like to lift weights and run a lot,” stated Nay. “Hitting wise I will start hitting a month or two before spring training to get the cobwebs out. I’ll definitely stay busy.”

Watch for Mitch Nay, as he continues to develop his game every day with hopes of being the Blue Jays everyday third baseman in the near future.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford

@CrawDaddy222

Great Lakes Loons Beat Writer for @BB_Essential, and Toronto Blue Jays Prospect Writer for @JaysProspects. Proud @IBWAA member. https://t.co/R9b2QREHJt
Brian Crawford

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