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Norcal ProCase Spotlight: P/MIF T.J. Nichols


Blaine Clemmens
Northern California Director of Scouting

  

PODCAST: Northern CA ProCase

STOCKTON, CA. - The 2019 MLB Draft was completed on June 5th and on June 9th we started to look toward the 2020 draft class at the Northern California ProCase. A select group of players were invited to participate in this exclusive event geared toward draft prospects and high level collegiate talents with future draft potential. Players were put through a pro-style workout with various stats/data recorded during the workouts which can be found HERE

Be sure to click on the highlighted player to see more video and notes from previous viewings at PBR events and game play from previous spring seasons. We continue our player spotlights from the event:

RHP/MIF T.J. Nichols (Oakmont HS)

T.J. Nichols is one of the fast risers in the area, particularly on the mound. We saw the lanky/wiry 6-foot-3 160-pound (maybe a bit above that weight now) on the mound at the Fresno Easter Classic, where he touched 93 mph in a relief appearance, which corroborated with some intel we were getting on him during the spring season. Nichols not going to stop at 93 mph on his was toward the 2020 MLB Draft, that much is pretty clear.

He's got a whip quick arm that works free and easy from an overhand slot. He works down the slope with quick pace but good body control and lands on a firm/stable stride leg. In this setting Nichols faced three batters and pounded the zone with all his pitches. The fastball was up to 92 mph and sat right at about 90 for his outing, with late arm side run and some down angle. The slider at times had late tilt and occasionally was a little up, but in an environment such as this it's understandable to overthrow a bit. He got one left-handed hitter to freeze for strike three with a late biting slider. His change-up is also a usable pitch and comes out around 10 mph off the fastball. 

As good as his arm is and as good of an athlete as he is (ran 6.79 60-yard), he is still developing on the mound. There are mechanical adjustments he can make that will allow him to work easier/more efficiently and still tap into that powerful arm of his. Working toward better extension and finish (tends to finish quite upright) is one area he can improve and as he gains lower body strength, that should be easily attainable. When he gets up to 95 mph next spring (or earlier), we won't be surprised, not in the least.

As a position player Nichols can stand on his own, especially as a potentially elite level glove man up the middle. He's got that long lanky body type that works with fluid actions. Defensively he has an excellent first step, with light bouncy feet and above average range, which with his big arm (didn't really let it fly in the workout) allows him to make difficult plays that many other shortstops can't. His hands are extremely soft and he's a very confident fielder. The throws track across the diamond and stay on line. He's a taller shortstop but he can and will stay there.

Offensively he has a quiet set-up and approach, with minimal stride that takes place with a slight foot lift. His bat path is pretty flat and at his best he was spraying line drives, making good contact with extension and staying behind the ball. The power potential is fairly modest at this time (89 exit velocity w/wood off a tee) but given his athleticism and hand speed, along with a body that likely has quite a bit of size and strength coming in the future, there will be some gains in his power potential. During his junior year he put up very good hitting numbers, though the power production was modest.

Whether he's a pitcher or position player after high school is yet to be determined and if he does get to campus, he's going to be a two-way player. As for his draft stock, it would seem likely that given his velocity and body type, scouts will be going in to see him on the mound. However, being drafted as a position player and being given a shot to develop isn't out of the realm of possibility, as teams will already know he's got the chops to pitch if he doesn't hit enough. Time will tell and it will be fun to see what next spring has in store for Nichols.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Inland Empire Top Prospect ID CA 07/23 Santiago High School
Northern California Top Prospect ID CA 07/24 St. Mary's College
Junior Future Games NATIONAL 07/30 LakePoint
2019 PBR Future Games (California Invite) CA 07/31 LakePoint - Cartersville, GA
California State Games CA 08/17 Vanguard University
Kern County Prospect I.D. CA 09/07 Cal State Bakersfield
SoCal Prospect Games CA 09/14 JSerra High School
Rising Stars Showcase CA 09/21 Santiago High School
N. CA Uncommitted Senior Games CA 10/06 College of Marin


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