Straight to the Majors: Xavier Nady
Over the extended weekend of the Field of Dream series the Yankees played against Garrett Crotchet, a relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox who throws hard, pitches well, and has yet to ever play a game in the minor leagues. After getting drafted 15th Overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, he signed, and went straight to the majors.
This got me wondering about what other players were who went straight to the MLB, of which there have been 22 since the MLB Draft was implemented in 1965. Over the next few weeks there are 11 players who have played for the Yankees while making their professional debut at the MLB level.
Today’s player is: Xavier Nady.
Road to the Show:
Born in Salinas, California, Xavier Nady was blessed with good weather, a great scouting location, and great baseball ability. Named the Northern California player of the year as a senior in high school, he was drafted in the 4th round of the MLB Draft in 1997 but opted instead to attend college at the University of California, Berkley. While there, Nady continued to show excellence on the field, helping the Golden Bears while setting a Pac-12 record for highest career slugging percentage. This helped Nady’s draft stock as he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2000 MLB Draft and after signing a contract with the San Diego Padres, he was immediately sent to the MLB…for one game- while collecting a hit in his only at-bat- in 2000 before spending the next 3 years (2001-2003) in the minor leagues.
This does mean Nady was a “straight to the majors” player, but it is also shrouded as he did not stay at the MLB level for an extended period. He became the Padres 2001 “Minor League Player of the Year” and was the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the Class A+ California League. In 2002 he built on that success while going from A+ Ball to Triple-AAA ball, though he had to get Tommy John surgery in the offseason. Even after that, Nady required just a a brief stint in the minors in 2003, before he found himself back at the MLB ranks. He would split time at each level in 2004 and after 2005 season spent only in the MLB, Nady was traded from the Padres to the New York Mets during the 2005-2006 offseason for Mike Cameron.
Nady’s Mets career was short-lived as he had to get an emergency appendectomy in May of 2006 and was traded to the Pirates during the trade deadline season in a move that the Mets needed to make for pitching. Nady would spend parts of 3 seasons (2006-2008) with the Pirates before moving again at the 2008 trade deadline (with Damaso Marte) to the New York Yankees.
Road to the Yankees and Afterwards:
Nady was traded to the Yankees in 2008 for a package of players that included Ross Ohlendorf, José Tábata, Daniel McCutchen, and Jeff Karstens. Nady had one huge game for the Yankees that season with a 6-RBI performance in a come-back win against the Los Angeles Angels, though his time with the Yankees was a greatly reduced offensive performance (105 OPS+) than he was producing earlier that year (143 OPS+). However, the Yankees believed enough in Nady and signed him to a 1-Year/$6.65 Million contract following the 2008 season.
Unfortunately, Nady only played in 7 games for the Yankees in 2009 before going down with an elbow injury that ultimately brought about his 2nd Tommy John surgery. This injury made Nick Swisher into the Yankees full-time OF for 2009, and Nady was given a World Series ring after the season. However, Nady would become a free agent following the season and sign on with the Chicago Cubs for 2010.
Nady spent his next few years splitting time between many teams with very little of note during each stint. Following his year with the Cubs, he became a Diamondback in 2011. In 2012 he signed a minor-league contract and was able to spend some time with the Nationals and was supposedly a player that Bryce Harper connected with his rookie season. Later that season, Nady would be DFA’ed and then signed by the San Francisco Giants on a different minor league deal and he would be called up to the MLB team on September 1st. This made Nady eligible to be on the postseason roster, which he was during their 2012 World Series run.
The next year Nady would sign with the Kansas City Royals on a minor league deal, but failed to get called up to the MLB and went to play in the Colorado Rockies minor leagues for the rest of the year. 2014 would be Nady’s final season, playing 22 games in the MLB before again being DFA’ed. He would try a final attempt to make the MLB with the Seattle Mariners to no avail.
Nady would retire in 2015 and take the hitting coach position with the Lake Elsinore Storm in the San Diego Padres organization.
On an interesting note, Xavier Nady’s full name is Xavier Clifford Nady V and he has a son carrying the name forward as the VI.