Playing catch this past November and December with his father out in front of his childhood home in Ohio, Nick Margevicius longed for the day he could toe the rubber in a major league game. Thanks to hard work and dedication, Nick is getting closer and closer to his ultimate goal.
“I put on like 10 pounds. I was out here (Peoria) for like nine weeks at strength camp,” Margevicius said. The pitcher also stated he was able to spend most of the offseason in Arizona, unlike the season before, in which he went back to school (Rider University) to finish his college degree. That type of commitment to the very end is why Margevicius is climbing up the Padres’ minor depth chart for starting pitchers.
His father has a lot to do with that dedication to his craft. “From the time I could, we would just sit on the floor and roll a ball back and forth to each other,” Margevicius said smiling. As a toddler, Nick was already developing the hand-eye coordination necessary for a career as a professional athlete. His father continually worked with him as he got older.
“He would always throw with me,” Margevicius proudly said. “We would always play catch. Even if it was 25 degrees outside. ” The bond between the two was formed, and Nick’s parents were on hand for his debut this spring in Peoria. Margevicius was terrific on the day, throwing two scoreless innings against the Cubs.
He simplifies the game with his approach and that is key for a young pitcher. “Heyward got out on the first pitch of the game,” He said. “I made a good pitch and he flew out. I guess that works here too.” His response, when asked about that start against the Cubs, says it all. No issues with nerves. He just wants the ball and he wants it often. The fire in the eyes of these young Padres pitchers is very impressive to see first hand.
Having a supportive parental unit is not the only factor in what made Margevicius who he is. The left-handed pitcher has an unquenchable thirst for the game. He desires knowledge in the sport and will never turn his back to criticism.
The lefty pitcher is indeed using the Rapsodo machines this spring. It is a fairly new pitching-based system that measures the spin of the ball out of pitchers hand. These machines are teamed up with edgertronic cameras, which are extremely slow motion cameras, and you have a recipe for more knowledge. Pitchers are able to see how the ball comes out of each finger during their delivery, and some really love it.
“They use it in the bullpens quite a bit now,” Margevicius said. “They also film our bullpens. So I will watch my bullpen with the data side by side. I will also have a coach talking to me. We will look at the depth versus the sideways break, then compare the data to see what it says.”
Consider this a new concept for the Padres, who have slowly adapted to it. Some of the older pitchers are hesitant in utilizing the technology fully, but at the very least, they do read the reports that are produced for them by the staff.
“It’s like mental reps for days that you can’t throw,” Margevicius stated. That is how Nick categorizes it, as he always loves to digest anything baseball related. Especially if it is about getting himself better as a player.
Last fall, Margevicius got a taste of playoff baseball as the San Antonio Missions advanced to the postseason. On September 8, he threw 95 pitches against the Corpus Christi Hooks, earning the win. It was his first start above A-Ball. Margevicius struck out eight in the game while only allowing one run on four hits during seven innings pitched. The start was impressive, and he would have started again for the Missions, but they failed to advance in their series. The feeling of being there in the postseason really helped Margevicius. “That experience motivated me a lot for the offseason. It is a different level. It really is,” he said.
Playing at that level was fun, but he also had the opportunity to play alongside Buddy Reed, Hudson Potts, and others. “The group of guys there were great,” he said. “You could tell they had been close for a while. I just wanted to be a part of it and do the best I could. You could just feel the emotions in the game. When we were down in the first game big, you could still feel we weren’t out of it.” That feeling resonates through the Padres minor league system. The organization has done well to create that vibe, and the players certainly feel it. This talented system is capable of big things.
This spring, Margevicius has thrown five innings and allowed one earned run (a solo home run on Saturday) while striking out six. There is some early talk of him competing for a rotation spot and that is truly remarkable. The Padres have set up their system with waves of talent and the shoreline is about to be pummeled continually by relevant prospects.
“They want to see us competing,” said the 22-year-old. “That’s what is preached from the front office since day one. They leave the door open. They just tell us to go out there and compete. The best teams are the ones with talent and the teams that force competition.”
Margevicius is pitching unreal and looks to be blossoming. His velocity is ticking up, and that will be an amazing bonus for this pitcher who already knows how to change speeds and throw on different levels of the strike zone.
A.J. Preller has a lot to do with the creation and development of these players. The staff under him works incredibly hard as well and deserves credit for their efforts. Recently, Preller created a little bit of a stir as he spoke in the Padres’ major league locker room in front of the 70-plus players. Nick was there and was taken back by the speech.
“I had heard he doesn’t normally do things like that,” Margevicius said. “This is my first time in the clubhouse. I just figured he gave one every year. I thought it was good. In what he was talking about, it just shows how much he cares. There is a reason why everyone is here and he made us feel like that. He went into people’s backgrounds, talking about where they come from and all. It shows he cares and knows about everybody.”
Several players told me how his talk motivated them. It helped them go about their grind in an easier manner. The family type atmosphere has been created by the Padres and there will surely be rewards to this change in philosophy.
Nick Margevicius will likely start in the minors. The reality is he has made one start above the A-Ball level. Nick is not worried about that. He knows that if he goes out and does his job every single day, then the rest will take care of itself. In time, Margevicius will certainly be a member of the San Diego Padres. He has a goal of 150 innings pitched this season and should eclipse that mark fairly easily. Perhaps, the tail end of those innings will be at Petco Park in 2019.