FSS alum, Colorado Rockies prospect Nic Kent continues to grind at next level

April 23, 2024

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Nic Kent was there when everything was just getting started.

Seven years later, he’s still here, showing that even back in the early days of Jeremy Booth’s vision for Program 15, there were indeed plenty of “Future Stars.”

Now 24 years old, Kent was one of the participants for the National Team at the inaugural International Week event back in 2017 — one that’s long been remembered for appearance by future big leaguers Grayson Rodriguez and Bo Naylor — held at Constellation Park down in Sugar Land, Texas. He earned the invite after a strong showing with US Elite in the national tournaments, and credits that time for helping him get on the radar, joking that he can’t believe it’s already been seven years since the event.

“It doesn’t feel like long ago in one way,” Kent said. “But, looking back, it’s like it was seven years ago, I’m three years out of college, so in that way, it feels like it’s been a while…I remember being with our team at US Elite, and we had a lot of really good players on that team, and we were all learning the game and growing together. It was a great experience. But being in high school and not really getting that much Draft attention, Program 15 was kind of the first big thing I did like that.”

A Charlottesville, Va. native, Kent stayed close to home to play his college ball, going to the University of Virginia, and also says that a big first year at the NCAA level helped get him on the map moving forward.

“That big first year, and then two more years playing at UVA in Division 1 in the ACC, that definitely prepared me and helped me out a lot,” he said. “(I surprised myself) a little bit there, because going in, you never know how you’re going to do with the competition. My freshman year, I was competing for a spot those first few games of the year, so if something doesn’t go your way, maybe you don’t even play that freshman year, maybe you don’t get drafted. I’m glad it all happened the way it did. (Playing close to home) was awesome too with my parents being able to go to every game. Growing up, I always wanted to go there, so it was cool to get us back to the College World Series..there had been a couple years where they didn’t even make the Regionals, so getting us back was a great experience.”

Kent made a name for himself with Cavaliers, starting the final 130 games of his collegiate career and becoming just the fifth player in program history to hit two grand slams in the same season. His travel ball experience, combined with being able to show those skills at the college level in a big conference over a long period of time, put him firmly on the Draft map.

The Colorado Rockies pounced in the 11th round back in 2021, taking the six-foot-one, 185-pound infielder with the No. 320 pick that provided some significant value at the spot, one Kent says was a bit later than he was expecting to go in.

“It was definitely a weird Draft experience, just hoping to go in the first two days and before that tenth round,” he said. “Don’t hear my name called, and those are long days for sure. But then I hear I might be able to go early in the third day. I felt like I was just ready to go into pro ball, get coaching, get in these types of games. I was thinking about going back (to Virginia) for another year, but the goal is to be a big leaguer. The earlier I can get in pro ball, the better.”

Kent says he was in his basement watching the livestream, saw his name popped up, and that was that. It’s been a slow, but steady climb for him in pro ball ever since; Kent spent all of his first year with Colorado’s Arizona Complex League team before receiving an ambitious assignment to High-A to start his first full season in 2022 as an advanced college bat. He ended up repeating the level last year, but put up career bests in an everyday role, hitting .277 with 11 homers and 62 RBI over 112 games.

“Two years in High-A up in Spokane, so it was good to learn the Northwest, but I had a hand injury my first spring training and that set me back a little bit I feel like,” he said. “So, just having that whole year last year and improving a lot, I felt like I showed what I really can do last year and am trying to build on that this year.”

With little left to prove at the lower levels, Kent was assigned to Double-A Hartford to start the 2024 season, but in more of a utility role. He knows that maximizing what he can do in limited opportunities will be key to continuing to advance down the road as he awaits his time to shine.

“I know the role that I’m in right now — our team is really good right now and we have a lot of ‘guys’ on it — so I’m out there helping defensively and can play wherever,” he said. “I want to grind out at-bats, have productive outs, move guys and do the little things. Start out with that, and then see where the role goes from there.”

Even with an improving farm system in which many of their top position player prospects are currently in Hartford, the Rockies organization clearly still has faith in Kent, as evidenced by some at-bats in his second big league camp, another experience he made the most of.

“I got my first hit up there in the big league games, and made one really good sliding play at second,” Kent says through a smile.

“It’s a really cool experience being around the guy and seeing how they go about things, learning the coaches and having the coaches learn your name. I learned a lot, and I was able to practice coming off the bench in those games, so that’s been valuable for this season too.”

Mike Ashmore
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