In a farm system loaded with relevant prospects, Nick Margevicius is quickly establishing himself as a pitcher to keep an eye on. The 2018 season could be huge for this 21-year-old left-handed pitcher who prefers to keep to himself and work his tail off.
I have had the pleasure of speaking to several young prospects in the Padres’ minor league system over the years. Each brings their own intensity and desire to the game of baseball, but every once in a while one stands out above the crowd.
Nick Margevicius (pronounced Mar-GAH-Vicious) had an outstanding first taste of professional baseball in 2017 (4-1 with a 1.31 ERA and a 0.979 WHIP in 11 games) after being selected in the 7th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Rider University. He showed a ton of promise in a little bit of time and could very easily be a fast riser in the system.
I specifically wanted to speak to Nick as I admired the fact he came from a smaller school. I had also heard that he was a very hard worker. We are currently days away from the start of the 2018 season. I first asked Nick about how he felt on the cusp of his first professional spring season. “I don’t know what spring training is going to be like yet, but I think it’s going to be fun.” He is most certainly excited for the spring and what it may bring. You have to imagine that the young man is both happy and nervous for work to begin in camp.
Nick Margevicius was selected from a small school and I was curious how a 7th round draft pick landed at Rider University. “I ended up going there because, the head coach told me he’d give me a shot my freshman year to work into the rotation. I was throwing around 82 MPH then and he told me they had success with pitchers like that (low velocity) in the past. He didn’t promise a rotation spot, but he did promise a chance to earn one and compete.” Just a chance to compete and earn his keep was all Margevicius asked for and the school was rewarded with one of the best hurlers in the history of the school.
It was not all easy for the left-handed pitcher in college, as he had to grind his way for everything he attained. “My freshman year I worked my way into being a weekend starter. I ended up starting there at Rider for three years.” A commitment to getting better earned him everything that he accomplished.
Being recognized and scouted from Rider was difficult. The university is not a traditional collegiate baseball powerhouse. “Coach Craine helped me with the whole scouting process and getting my name out there.” Being able to focus and allow coaches to spread the word on Nick was invaluable to getting him a call on draft day.
Margevicious has grown tremendously as a person and as a pitcher in the physical sense. “My conditioning and strength program is what I got the most out of Rider University. That is where I found myself in the weight room. We ran all the time and that is where a lot of the development came from.” Nick worked very hard to bulk up and gain strength in his core. With a fearless regimen, he was able to gain velocity on his fastball, which presently sits in the low 90’s. He was recognized by his peers and awarded a spot as a team captain. His fellow teammates were the ones who were adamant about rewarding him for his effort. “That meant a lot to me. It showed that the team has confidence in me directing them. I’m not a vocal person. They must have seen my work ethic and I guess I earned their respect for that.” Players speak volumes with their actions. You do not necessarily need a vocal guy that is in your face for a successful clubhouse. A person who gets the job done each and every day without complaints is vital for a developing team as well.
The two of us then spoke about the draft. The whole build-up and details of the draft can be overwhelming for some young players. Nick did a great job of staying centered, as he anticipated hearing his name called on draft day. I asked him about the draft date specifically and if the Padres were on his radar. “It was a crazy process leading up to the draft. There was a lot of confusing things going on. I actually had not heard much from the Padres prior to the draft. I was kind of blindsided. I had no idea it was going to be the Padres.” The selection was a surprise, but he could not have been more content with the Friars. “Once I found out, I was so excited. The whole organization is focused on developing players.” We spoke for a while about the process the Padres have developed and the fact the franchise is so stacked in the minors. He is extremely excited for his first season and a chance to really compete again for a roster spot.
Nick has never been to Southern California, or more specifically, San Diego, in his life. I told him to be prepared to fall in love. He laughed and said “Everybody tells me that.” The left-handed pitcher will surely enjoy his time in Southern California and could get a taste of it in 2018, with the Lake Elsinore Storm. It is not out of the question for him to earn a promotion to the California League at some point in 2018, if he doesn’t start there in the first place. The spring will probably help the franchise determine where and when he will make his full-season debut.
We spoke about some of his teammates and how he has developed relationships with them. I wanted to know if there was a particular player that he has built a friendship with. “I immediately clicked with Tom Cosgrove. We were throwing partners.” Cosgrove is a left-handed pitcher out of Manhattan College that was drafted in the 12th round of the 2017 draft.
The Padres’ system is loaded presently. There are many players in the system who can very easily make their way to the major leagues. That is rare in MLB. Usually most prospects fizzle out. Not that any of the Padres youngsters are a guarantee, but the team has subscribed to the philosophy that more is better. “As a baseball fan first, it is really fun to watch people who are talented. To get to play with them has been even more fun.” I love the fact that Nick is a huge fan of the sport. He respects the game of baseball and knows that you need to push yourself to get the most out of your abilities. “Competition brings the best out of people. When you see someone have success you are happy for them, but you want to go out there and do better.”
We spoke about Washington and his time at Tri-City. “When I first got there I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know there was a desert in Washington. I was expecting Seattle and it was the same exact thing as Arizona where I just came from.” I starting laughing at this comment because it’s very true. For those that have not been to Tri-City, it is not what you expect. The area does love baseball and supports the Dust Devils religiously. “It had the feel of summer baseball. There were fans there. In Arizona you play on back fields and not a lot of people are there. ” He enjoyed playing in Washington and getting his feet wet in pro ball.
I enjoy asking recently drafted pitchers about hitting. The Padres, of course, are a National League team, and at some point most pitching prospects for the team get an opportunity to swing the stick. “I wanted to go to a National League team for that reason. I love to hit. I took some swings this offseason. We will see how it turns out.” He is ready to showcase his left-handed swing at a minor league ballpark very soon.
Fastball, changeup, curve ball is what he throws right now. We spoke about his pitches and usage of them. “The curve is something we are working on. I threw a slider my last two years in college. Scouts told me before the draft to focus on the curve because that will play better for you.” Margevicius is not a hard thrower. He needed a slower pitch coming in at a different plane to keep batters off-balance. It is working so far for the young lefty. You cannot argue with the early results.
In the middle of April his freshman year at Rider University, he moved to the first base side of the rubber with his delivery. He has continued to do so and has had great success with it. His control is a positive as Margevicius is able to continually pound the strike zone on both sides of the plate. In asking about some of the present things he is working on, he talked about his curve and refining it. “Consistency and usage is what we are working on with the curve right now.”
Nick is a routine-orientated type of person. He prefers to do things the same way each and every day, and with that, he is very consistent on the mound. His command is presently above average and there are no reasons to believe he will lose the ability to throw strikes as he moves up the chain.
The last thing we discussed were his goals for the 2018 season. It is vital for young players to set some sort of goals in each and every year. “I would like to say that I have complete confidence in my curve ball. I want to go out there and put up consistent starts and throw as many innings as I can.” The curve is a big pitch for Margevicius and I am positive he will be able to remain consistent in his appearances. He has a great personality and work ethic to match. With a little luck, Padre’ fans will get to know Nick Margevicius as he toes the rubber at Petco Park one day for the Friars.