Forgotten Player of the Moment – DAVID NIED
(by Bill Barnwell)
Which pitcher would you want if you didn’t know anything about them? Avery looks like a future Hall of Famer, while Glavine has no profile whatsoever. Millwood and Schmidt were very good in AAA, but Nied combines their strengths – Millwood’s command with Schmidt’s strikeout power, and then some. You’d probably go for him after you grabbed Avery – and of course, you’d probably want them in the exact opposite order of how they looked. Nied was older, but his stats at 23 still translate much better than Glavine’s at 20.
There’s a reason 98% of the baseball fans in America have either never heard of or forgotten about David Nied, though. He didn’t blow out his arm – well, not officially. And he didn’t kill anyone, although there is a slight chance he was badly beaten (more on that in a minute). David Niedwas the first victim of Coors Field.
Nied was basically your garden-variety A-/B+ pitching prospect. He was in the organization to be one, of course – the early 90’s Braves. No one knew who Bruce Chen was at this point, so there were no Richmond stars that couldn’t make it in Atlanta yet. For some reason, though, the Braves decided not to protect him in the expansion draft to fill out the Marlins and Rockies’ rosters (which deserves its own Draft Mockery at some point). I can’t figure out why, beyond the fact that they were already loaded at starting pitcher. There’s really no excuse for them not trading him if they were going to leave him unprotected – but regardless, he was in the pool and the Rockies took him with the first overall pick in the expansion draft. The Marlins chose…Nigel Wilson.
Nied got to Colorado and was their Opening Day starter. He was 24. Three years later, he’d have played his last game in the majors. In the meantime? His arm was sore, if not mangled. He’d pitched ineffectively, but not Chacon-y or anything. A 1997 pre-Rays/D’Backs Expansion Draft article written by Jerry Crasnick says Nied’s son was born prematurely and he was too nice to handle the “Golden Boy” expectations (This same article talks about how the Cincinnati players are upset because Bret Boone got sent down which is a wonderful amalgamation of two stories going on eight years later).
The article says Nied was then working for a company that makes cylinder heads. I wasn’t able to track anything down since then…except for a Pittsburgh story that talks about a David Nied coming home from a club, calling some guy he passed on the street gay, and getting beaten to death. I don’t think it’s the same David Nied, but if you replace “guy on the street” with “John Schuerholz”, you have David Nied’s career summed up pretty simply.