Monday, July 20, 2009

Telvin Nash Hitting Profile

Telvin Raynard Nash is an 18-year old left fielder from Griffin High School in Griffin, Georgia who played high school baseball with 2008 first round pick Tim Beckham. He's 6-foot-1, 230 pounds and is every bit that imposing a player in his video on Nash committed to Kennesaw State but signed for .

Nash has a swing that definitely can play to some significant power, and was rated as being the top prep power hitter in his state. His pre-swing stance is very busy, with some extra knee movement that could be eliminated. It works for him now, so I'm not one to advocate changing, but complicated swings can get out of whack easily.

His pro debut hasn't gone as smoothly as he'd hoped. In 50 at-bats, he's hitting .160/.218/.240 with two doubles, a triple and 15 strikeouts. Nash has a BABiP of .222, meaning his average should be higher. One of the main reasons why he's struggling at the plate is he's not hitting line drives. Of his 36 batted balls, only two have been liners and both fell in for singles. His average on ground balls is .125 and on flyballs is .222. For reference, the major league flyball average is ???? and the groundball average is ???. So, he's been a bit unlucky to this point. Still, 50 at-bats is an awful small sample size to be making big comparisons.

Nash hits to all fields, with a 14-11-11 split between right-center-left fields. He's hit for the highest average when hitting it up the middle, picking up four hits, one on a liner, one on a grounder and two on fly balls. In fact, both his extra-base hits came on fly balls to center field. The area he's struggled mostly in is hitting it the opposite way. Nash, a right-handed batter, has a .091 average on balls hit on the right side of the infield. I expect he's still getting used to the fastballs of guys in the Gulf Coast League and this all should even out as he gets comfortable.

In the field, Nash has started five games in left field. In my scouting report during the draft, this is what I had to say about his fielding:

His arm looks like it will play alright, though it's telling that the Astros listed him as a left fielder. He moved pretty well around the bases, so he should be able to stay on the corners and his arm looked like it could be an asset in left.
So far, so good. Nash has definitely started the majority of his games at designated hitter, but in his 45 innings in the field, he's made seven putouts in 30 chances with three errors. Two of the errors came on throws while the third was a fielding error. Nash doesn't have a very good percentage of turning chances into outs, but many of those chances came on line drives that no one could have gotten to, so that number isn't worrisome. His range factor of 1.40 is actually very decent for a left fielder and his arm looks like it will end up being very good as well. He's struggled to hold runners going from second on a single; the runner from second scored all four times that happened in game situations. In all the other situations, though, Nash has done well. All three times he's kept the runner from advancing to third when there's a single and a runner on first. He held the runner at third once out of two times when there was a double and a runner on first. Finally, he held the runner the only time there was a possible sacrifice fly hit to him with a runner on third.

The rest of the analysis I can do from the numbers feels incomplete because we don't have enough data on him yet. Sure, he hits significantly better in the fifth or sixth slot in the order, but he's only had 8 or 9 at-bats in that spot, compared to 26 in the cleanup spot. Sure, when he comes up third in an inning, the team is scoring a high rate of runs, but he's only come up eight times like that and the team has only scored eight runs. It's high compared to the rest of his situations, but still a bit premature for solid conclusions.

The take home message then becomes this: Nash is struggling right now because he's not making good contact. His profile shows he's got good discipline as a hitter, can hit it to all fields (just not successfully yet) and probably needs to cut back on the strikeouts. We'll definitely check back with Nash next month to see how he's progressing.

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