Can Nevin power his way into Orioles’ plans?

If Tyler Nevin wanted to leave a nice impression on the Orioles heading into the offseason, hitting a 442-foot home run on the last day seemed like a solid idea.

Nevin, 24, reached the third deck in left field at Rogers Centre against Blue Jays starter Hyun Jin Ryu for his first career home run in his sixth major league game. It was the longest first homer by an Oriole since the Statcast era.

I should point out that the Statcast era dates back only to 2015, so we’re not taking a deep dive into baseball history.

How in the world did we manage to enjoy the sport before then?

Anyway, Nevin’s shot was tied for the ninth-longest first career homer in the majors since 2015. It came in his second stint with the team after a brief stay that lasted two games from May 29-30. He didn’t return until Sept. 28.

The son of former Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin went 4-for-14 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs, four walks and five strikeouts in 18 plate appearances. He made three starts in left field and two at first base.

Tyler Nevin led Triple-A Norfolk with 16 home runs after coming to the Orioles from Colorado in the Mychal Givens trade, but he also slashed .227/.305/.392 in 111 games. Four of his homers were hit in September, when he batted .250/.349/.444 over 21 games.

Thumbnail image for Nevin-Swings-Whit-ST-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles initially viewed Nevin as their primary first baseman at Norfolk and he made 39 starts there, but he also had 37 starts at third base, 20 in left field and eight in right.

“The biggest thing for Nevin was he was trying out new positions throughout the year, so I think that took a toll on his offensive production in the middle of the year for a little bit,” said Tides hitting coach Tim Gibbons.

“But when I tell you he came in in the beginning of the year at third base with question marks, he got rid of all those question marks by the end of the year. and really dominated third base and became more than capable of playing third. He also did a heck of a job in the corner outfield. So I think once he kind of got his defense underneath him of trying new positions and starting to excel at them, that’s when in September the OPS went back up and he started taking back off, culminating in taking an inside pitch and mashing it over the left field wall.

“Nevin did some good things. It was a big year for Nevin in terms of defensive development, so it was really nice to see him finish the season strong in September on the offensive side because it’s all there for him with the bat. I think worrying about different positions might have taken a toll on his offense, but once he really got settled in at third, which again, I can’t say enough about the strides he made at third base, I think he kind of settled in mentally and then the bat came back to life.”

The Orioles don’t have a firm starter at third base and will check the free agent and trade markets while also considering Kelvin Gutiérrez. Nevin will compete for a job, anywhere, in spring training, with the possibility of returning to Norfolk and again bouncing around between the corner infield and outfield. ranks Nevin as the No. 29 prospect in the organization. Scouts are intrigued by his raw power and want to see whether it translates more often into games.

The Orioles are curious, as well.

* Can’t talk to anyone in Norfolk without getting his opinion of catcher Adley Rutschman, baseball’s No. 1 prospect who certainly will debut in 2022, even if it isn’t in April.

“He was outstanding and he’s everything as advertised across the board with his demeanor, the way he goes about his business,” Gibbons said.

“Behind the plate, he made such an impact on our pitching staff and calling the game, and just the rapport he built with the pitchers and the staff was fantastic. And obviously from the offensive end, he’s got the tools, he does it all from both sides of the plate. He did a fantastic job in Triple-A of controlling the strike zone. He finished batting over .300, which was awesome and something he thought was important, and I agree. It’s not just about power and just hitting homers left and right, but being able to spray balls with two strikes the other way and taking what the pitcher gave him.

“I have nothing but the best to say about Rutsch and what he brought to our team at Norfolk when he came up. And just on top of it, obviously when you’re Adley Rutschman, you’re the first overall pick, the media frenzy that follows him, he handled it completely in stride and with such good attitude and such good effort in terms of the off the field stuff and taking care of business. I think he handled it really well and his play just kept on improving as the year went on.”

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