The rise of the San Diego Padres’ farm system has been well documented. Since A.J. Preller took over as the team’s general manager in August of 2014, he has found multiple avenues in which to rejuvenate a farm system that had always been solid, yet unspectacular.
One way Preller has been able to bring in talent like no Padres’ GM before him has been through the amateur draft. 12 of the Padres top 30 prospects (according to MLB.com) as of this writing have been acquired via the amateur draft. Only one of those players remains with the team since A.J. came along.
Preller’s fantastic eye for talent has resulted in the drafting of many pitchers who each carry various amounts upside, many of whom are also left-handed. Mackenzie Gore, Eric Lauer, and Joey Lucchesi all find themselves toward the top of Padres’ prospect lists everywhere, but we already know all about them, and for good reason. But now is the time to talk about a prospect who seems to be flying under the radar a little bit. One could even consider him a sleeper of sorts, a young man overlooked through no fault of his own.
The young man I am referring to is 21-year-old Nick Margevicius of North Royalton, Ohio. The 6’5 and 220 lb left hander was taken by the Padres in the 7th round of the 2017 draft. A product of Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Margevicius spent three seasons as a Bronco, putting up a 3.18 ERA over 229.1 innings. Margevicius struck out 196 batters and walked 62, good for a 3.2 K/BB ratio. He never walked more than 22 batters in a single season at Rider, showing good command. Nick improved his strikeout numbers every year (50, to 67, to 79) and threw more innings each season (65, to 77, to 87.1), operating mainly as a starting pitcher.
A three pitch pitcher, Margevicius utilizes a fastball, changeup, and curveball, the last of which his former college coach calls “decent”. The development of that curveball will likely make or break Margevicius’s career as a starter as he has a “good changeup and he spots his fastball”. The Magnificent Margevicius seems to be viewed as a long-term starter by the Padres, who unleashed him onto the lower minor leagues to great success.
Over 48 innings split between the AZL Padres and Low-A Tri-City Margevicius posted a sparkling 1.31 ERA accompanied by an amazing 11.6 K/9 in 2017. He walked a total of eight batters over the course of his 10 starts in the Padres’ system, ending up with a 7.75 K/BB ratio. It isn’t unheard of for a reliever to be that dominant over a similar amount of innings, but the young lefty was doing all of this over multiple starts, not relief appearances. He gave up seven earned runs over 10 starts, relying more on deception than aggressiveness, as evidenced by opponents pulling the ball at a higher percentage (46.1%) than hitting the ball to the opposite field (34.9%) or to center (19.1%). This means hitters were able to get ahead of Margevicius’s hard stuff if they weren’t whiffing.
Nick Margevicius isn’t going to blow anyone away at 91 mph or so, but he has a chance to do big things in the Padres’ organization if he is able to build on his 2017 successes. For me, his ceiling is currently that of a mid to back of the rotation starter or possibly a swing man. This isn’t a knock on his talent, but with such a small sample size of pro ball data and his shortcomings with his curveball it’s tough to profile him as anything more than a glue guy on the pitching staff. The beauty about prospects though, is that they can change their profiles with successes at each level of the minors so I most definitely will be keeping an eye on this left hander in 2018. He could very easily get better.
Padres fans should be excited about Nick Margevicius, as he is my pick for breakout pitching prospect of 2018. I believe he has a chance to experience the same meteoric rise enjoyed by Joey Lucchesi in 2017 if he is able to nail down that curveball as an above average pitch. Expect for him to start out at Single-A Fort Wayne to start the season, but don’t be surprised to see him in Lake Elsinore sooner rather than later. Keep him on your radar Padres fans, you will not be disappointed.