By Shaun Chornobroff
Three years ago, Rider students could have seen Nick Margevicius in their business class as he prepared for his junior season as the ace of Rider baseball’s pitching staff.
Fast-forward and now Margevicius dons the teal and white of the Seattle Mariners as one of their starting pitchers.
Margevicius experienced a rapid development that started the summer after his freshman year in Lawrenceville, which is when Major League Baseball scouts first took notice of the lefty from Ohio after a productive summer league campaign.
“After my freshman year I started throwing a little bit harder, went to summer ball and had a really good summer against some really good competition then some scouts started talking to me,” Margevicius said. “Then, I’d say at the beginning of my sophomore year, it kind of became my one drive, my one goal, I said, ‘I have two years to get ready for the draft and it starts right now.’ I didn’t go to Rider with that intention, but after my freshman year that became my sole focus.”
Margevicius had an earned run average (ERA) of 4.29 his freshman year. The two years after Margevicius made baseball his “sole focus,” his ERAs were a dominant 2.59 and 2.89. Margevicius’ strikeout numbers also jumped from 50 his freshman year to 67 his sophomore year and 79 his junior year.
This rapid improvement paid off, as Margevicius got drafted by the San Diego Padres in the seventh round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
Most drafted players spend at least three years in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. Margevicius spent a single season in the minors.
“It’s sort of a unique situation for me, most guys don’t go that quickly. I was kind of fortunate to be in a situation where I had a really good first year, I finished being called up for the Double-A playoffs, which was great, I had success there,” Margevicius said. “I ended up getting the call to big league camp and all you need really is that opportunity, that invite, and you never know what could happen. There happened to be a spot in the rotation open and I was the guy who they wanted to fill it at the time. It was crazy, it’s not something anybody expected, I didn’t expect it myself, but it was an awesome experience for sure.”
Unfortunately, Margevicius’ cinderella rise had a rough end, as the Padres moved on from the 2017 All-MAAC selection after one yeason. Margevicius proved to be flexible as he was used as a starter and a reliever, but his 6.79 ERA was telling off hitters’ success when facing him.
Some players get released from a team and never hear their name called at the major league level again. Luckily for Margevicius, his second chance came quickly with the Mariners.
In his first season with the Mariners, Margevicius has established himself as a reliable starter, accruing a 4.57 ERA in a fanless MLB season. A 4.57 ERA may seem high, but in a shortened season, one poor start can inflate a pitcher’s ERA, which Margevicius was a victim of as a result of his Sept. 9 start against the San Francisco Giants when he gave up seven runs in less than five innings of work. In Margevicius’ 36.9 other innings of work, he had a 3.41 ERA.
Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto had some great things to say about Margevicius on Sept. 1 on The Leadoff Spot, a program on MLB Network Radio.
“[Margevicius] has been great for us, he’s smart,” Dipoto said. “He’s a guy who kind of flew from A-ball to the big leagues and struggled as a 23 year-old big leaguer. And we were the benefactor of that. Now at 24, he has been able to slow the game down.”
Margevicius’ stark improvement from San Diego to Seattle made people wonder — what was wrong in San Diego?
Margevicius’ answer was nothing.
“I wouldn’t say something went wrong there. I’d just say it’s a part of my development process. I did spend only a year in the minor leagues, even now I’m not a finished product yet, there are still some things I need to work on, there are things I’m going to need to work on for years and years to come, so I had some really good outings there and I had some really bad outings there … The things I’ve learned from that are what’s helped me this year being in Seattle,” Margevicius said.
Despite his growing success, Margevicius still credits Rider Head Coach Barry Davis and the university for their help.
“It played a huge role for me, during my time at Rider I discovered myself and what I need to be good at this game and how hard I needed to work and a lot of that was instilled by [Barry] Davis and the staff there,” Margevicius said. “So I think that had a pretty big impact on how I started to work towards my goal of being a major league pitcher.”
Davis recruited Margevicius despite never seeing him play live, only getting videos of him pitching, which the youngster from Ohio sent to multiple schools.
Margevicius looked at baseball a lot differently back then, as he said “the draft wasn’t even on my radar.”
Margevicius wanted a school that believed in him and would let him start as a freshman and pursue his finance major. Never did he expect to walk away with a chance at his dreams coming true.