Ten years after he was drafted by the Houston Astros in the third round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, York Revolution first baseman Telvin Nash is still fueled by the words his father instilled in him as a child, despite the highs and lows his professional career has seen.
“If I start it, you gotta finish it,” Nash said. “You might be the best, you might be the worst at it, (but) you still gotta finish it. I am not a quitter.”
Opposing pitchers in the Atlantic League certainly wish that Nash had hung up his spikes before this season. The 28-year-old Nash is a near lock for the league’s Player of the Year Award after he rewrote the franchise’s record books while propelling the Revs from a dreadful start to a playoff berth.
The real MVP: Nash led the league in home runs (41), RBIs (100), runs (107), total bases (303), walks (105), slugging percentage (.623) and on-base percentage (.423), all while batting .294.
The 41 homers Nash hit are tied for second-most in league history, and his 100 RBIs are the most since in the Atlantic League since York’s Chris Nowak had 107 in 2012.
Nash also set league records for extra base-hits with 77, total bases and walks and became the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs.
The 2019 season is the first time the 6-foot-3 Nash has spent a full season with the Revs and the first time since he was drafted out of high school that he said he is healthy and in the right mindset to have success on the field.
A decade after his pro baseball career began, Nash has learned from each stop along the journey to become the person and player he is today.
Baseball beginnings: Baseball wasn’t the sport the Griffin, Georgia, native dreamed he would play growing up. Nash grew up playing football, basketball and baseball as a kid, but had dreams of a career on the gridiron.
It wasn’t until Nash’s high school teammate, 2008 MLB Draft No. 1 overall pick and former Baltimore Oriole Tim Beckham, was drafted during Nash’s junior year that a pro baseball career became a possibility.
Once the initial happiness about being drafted faded away, Nash realized what he signed up for.
Baseball had always been something he did between football seasons and practiced every other day. Now, it was his entire life.
On his second day of rookie ball, Nash called his mom and told her he needed to come home.
“I was overwhelmed,” Nash said. “I didn’t understand the real work starts now. When I was in high school it was just fun. I didn’t know how much work you had to put into it as a young kid. If I could go back, my career would be totally different.”
It took Nash until 2014, his first full season in Double-A, to lock in at the plate. He led the Texas League in home runs with 22, but after struggling to begin the 2015 season, was released by Houston.
Nash joined the Revs for the first time in 2015 and spent the rest of that season with the team. After starting the 2016 season in York, Nash was signed by the Chicago White Sox.
Two months after he signed with the team, Nash was hit with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine, which he said was the result of taking Adderall for attention-deficit related reasons.
Following his suspension, Nash was on a mission to show he belonged. The issue was that he was a little too eager, and in an attempt to keep his spot, rushed through rehab for injuries to his hamstring and groin and his timing was off at the plate.
Between Class-A and Double-A in 2017, Nash hit a combined .205 with six home runs in 42 games and was released in July 2017.
Nash rejoined the Revs that summer and hit a home run that won York the 2017 Atlantic League title.
Revs' icon: Darrell Henry, play-by-play broadcaster for the Revs, said because of Nash’s contributions on the field in 2017, and ability to entertain those in attendance at PeoplesBank Park, he is already an icon for the franchise.
“We’ve had some superstars in this league who have come through York, and he is definitely one of those guys,” Henry said. “The fans love him. He is already one of the all-time greats here.”
The 2018 season started in the Mexican League, but he made his way back to York again. Back in the place he refers to as his second home, Nash was ready to prove to those who doubted him wrong.
“I was just mad,” Nash said. “Everybody that ever ticked me off, I pictured your face and tried to just hit it.”
After he hit .338 with nine home runs in 39 games to close the 2018 season, Nash was fully healthy and ready to showcase what he could achieve in a full season with one team.
“I feel like I still have so much more left in my tank,” Nash said. “I just need an opportunity just to show it. Numbers don’t lie.”
No regrets: In a 2019 season full of broken records and statistical accomplishments, Nash wasn’t angry that an opportunity to play for an MLB team hasn’t presented itself yet. He relies on his faith and trusts that the chance will come and he just has to be ready when it does.
“God don’t make mistakes in why he does what he does to us,” Nash said. “So, I don’t regret being where I am because it made me stronger, it made me wiser.”
With 10 years of experiences and lessons under his belt, Nash has learned what it means to be a pro baseball player and is glad he listened to his father’s words and didn’t give up on his dream.
“I don’t regret anything because my journey is not over with yet,” Nash said. “Until the man above says, ‘You can’t play baseball no more,’ I am still going to be playing.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.