Telvin Nash: a power-hitting first baseman with a swagger.
Lexington Legends first baseman Telvin Nash is an easy person to like. By all accounts, he appears to have all the makings of a very good future Major League player too, but even without that very essential element, he’s still an easy guy to root for.
First of all, his baseball mentor is Michael Bourn. In fact, as a professional, he’d like to be just like the former Astros center fielder, whom Nash spent most of his time with during Spring Training and thinks of as “a big brother.”
Also, Nash, a native of Griffin, GA, comes from a family of educators. His mom is a fifth-grade teacher. His dad, Ray Nash, a former pro football player, is a school principal. As a result, Nash is gifted both athletically and academically. Sports were important to the family, sure, but he had to keep up his grades, too.
“I had no choice,” he said. “I had to be a good student. There was no other way in my household.”
Nash, like most professional athletes, was exceptional at every sport he played growing up. As a kid, basketball was his strength, but when he got older he realized “I wasn’t going to be 6-foot-6 or seven-feet tall. So I had go to the next level, which was baseball.”
He took to football a little later on, and was again among the best at that sport among his peers. He was recruited by many colleges and was pretty set on playing for the University of Miami, but that changed when he was selected by the Astros in the third round of the 2010 draft.
The 20-year-old Nash has dedicated himself fully to baseball but still feels the tug of football from time to time. In fact, during his first Spring Training, he began to second-guess his decision to forgo the college experience in order to play baseball.
“I had really re-evaluate myself,” he said. “I had to decide if this is really what I want to do, or do I want to go back to school and play football. I had to dedicated myself to play baseball and that’s what I’ve done.”
Nash was primarily an outfielder in high school, but the Astros drafted him as a first baseman. He has been identified by every evaluator in the organization as having the best power in the Astros’ system, a potential middle-of-the-order slugger, which, typically, is a prerequisite to having longevity at that position in the big leagues. He also doesn’t swing at a lot of bad pitches, atypical among many players his age.
May of the Astros’ recent high draft picks were drafted at different positions than they played in high school and/or college. Delino DeShields was moved from the outfield to second base. Mike Kvasnicka, the Astros’ supplemental first-rounder in 2010, was a catcher/outfielder in high school until the Astros drafted him as a third baseman. Nash is another example of the Astros taking the best athletes available in the draft and worrying about positioning later.
“You have to put in the time on the offensive side and you don’t want to go out there and look lost, so you have to put time in on the defensive side,” Nash said. “I guess as you get older or play a lot more baseball you get adjusted to the new position. I’m starting to get adjusted to first base and I’m starting to like it. At first I was like, I don’t know about first base. But now I’m starting to like it. I’m more involved in the game. I touch the ball the same amount of time as the catcher.”
Nash missed a good chunk of this season with a broken hamate bone in his hand, an injury severe enough to require surgery. He returned to the lineup a few weeks ago and is slowly working his way back to being an everyday player, while receiving days off here and there as he builds up his strength. In an abbreviated 52 games played this year, Nash has 11 home runs, 22 RBIs and a .263 average.
Like most of the Astros’ farmhands, Nash isn’t clueless as to what’s been happening with the parent club this year. The Astros are an organization in transition, and plenty of Minor League players with seemingly no chance to reach the big leagues this year are doing just that. And thriving.
So when asked if he’s been paying attention to what’s going on in Houston, Nash had an answer similar to his teammates: How can you not?
“Oh, it’s lovely around here,” he said with a grin. “This is the organization you want to be with. You have a good year, a couple of good months, people notice that. Everybody has a chance, you know?”
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