To say Mitch Nay’s professional baseball career has been easy would be a huge lie. Nay was drafted by the Blue Jays in the supplemental first round, in 2012 with the 58th pick. Since then Nay when healthy has been one of the best prospects the Jays have but staying healthy has been his problem.
Nay was one of the Jays best prospects and was rising through the ranks, but an injury in 2016 limited Nay only play in eight games. Nay has resumed playing this season with Lansing and have hit the ball well.
Nay was nice enough to have a phone interview with me, set up by the Lansing Lugnuts.
Cole Shelton: When you were drafted was there any thoughts of deciding not to sign and go to college?
Mitch Nay: At the time not really, I always wanted to go to school but I had a scenario in my head, that is if I was drafted high I wouldn’t go to school. And I would just play, and once I had gotten picked I knew I was pretty much gonna play.
CS: 2013 and 2014 you were off to a great start. Starting in Bluefield and getting promoted all the way to Dunedin, how has that helping your development?
MN: Well in 2013 I was in Bluefield and I was in Lansing for most of 2014 and at the very end I went to Dunedin. It definitely helped I spent enough time at each level to where I felt comfortable at each place, just kind of learning and adjusting to be successful. Bluefield for me was just like an introduction to baseball, kind of learning the pro schedule and all that stuff. The competition isn’t the greatest, you know there is still some guys throwing it in there pretty good, but just the finer points of pitching, aren’t necessarily there yet but it definitely helps seeing that many levels in a matter of year, it definitely helped my development.
CS: 2016 was a tough year for you, only playing in 8 games, how hard was that on you?
MN: It was pretty tough, I mean it was 22 months in between actual games so it was a pretty long process. So at that point you know at that point you kind of forget, that when you don’t play for that long that it will take a while for you to get back out there and know what your body is doing. And to know that it will take time to get re-acclimated to the game of baseball.
CS: You are playing very well in Lansing, do you see yourself getting promoted soon?
MN: I’m not pressured to. I mean the goal for me, after talking with some of the management is to be able to play multiple games in a row. I mean for me it is getting used to playing under the lights again, and just playing baseball again. You know just going through those ups and downs, that are going to be there, especially when you haven’t played for as long as I had. That is the goal to just get my stamina back up as a baseball player, and remember what it is like. But I’m not really sure if I’m going to get promoted, so we will see. but I have no clue
CS: How big of a change was it going from shortstop to third base?
MN: It was a pretty long time ago. Not really though, I last played short my sophomore year in high school, and then switched to third base. It wasn’t too hard of a transition, because it is similar to shortstop, you actually have less range, and you have to keep the ball in front of you. In pro ball I noticed more of an adjustment because the game is a little faster, and it isn’t too much different.
CS: Your bat is a big tool in your game, is that something you think can get you to the majors?
MN: You hope so, I’ve been working a lot on refining my approach which in the years past I was maybe a little worried about getting hits instead of making an impact on offence, and hitting for more bases, getting doubles, hitting home runs. Along with not swinging harder, and just practicing driving and hitting the ball all over the field, and translating that into the game. In the past with two strikes, I would just try and swing for the fences when now I am cutting down and just trying to get a hit, and placing the ball where it needs to be, and not swing for a home run but there definitely is a time and place for that. Over the last year or so I realized it may be a good idea for me to trust my ability to hit for power, and I’ve definitely seen a difference, so it has been good.
CS: Back to 2016, do you think the injury set you back in your development?
MN: Yeah I think, anytime you don’t play for as long as I did, almost two years. In a lot of ways it almost stunted my growth you could say, but it kind of helped me in other areas. Like training and just my attention to my health and I’ve put a lot of hours in the weight room and I feel more physical now. That side of things I think I have progressed and I now have a better idea of how to take care of myself, but with the same respect 22 months without playing baseball is definitely not going to help your development, and I just gotta play every night and learn from successes and mistakes, and hoping I can get back on track.
CS: Finally Mitch, what is one thing you would like to accomplish by years end?
MN: Like I said I really just want to be on the field by the end of the year and continuing to play. To play a lot of games in a row, and stay healthy, and get back to being comfortable on the field and at the plate. Show some things, like I can still hit, and show that I am making progress and what not. That is kind of my goal, I don’t have a goal of where I want to be playing like anything like that, I just want to stay on the field and continue to play good baseball.
CS: Thanks Mitch, and best of luck this season.
MN: No problem, thank you.