Nixon May Leave Baseball For ASU Football

Discouraging by two disappointing years, catcher Mike Nixon is considering leaving baseball to play college football. Nixon, who at one time, was the best-regarded catching prospect in the Dodger system but who has fallen by the wayside since, is seriously thinking about giving up the game to play for Arizona State where he is currently enrolled as a student.

"I'm considering football, "Nixon said. "I can't say anything definite but I'm hoping to know something within a week."

Nixon was the Arizona High School Player of the Year in football in 2001 when, playing for Sunnyslope High in Phoenix, he was both a quarterback and safety. Arizona State was among the many schools that sought him to play offense but he signed with UCLA to play safety and that's what he's expected to become if he returns to the sport.

In the spring of 2002, he hit .543 as a senior and had a superior workout at Dodger Stadium prior to the draft. While most teams felt he was bound for football and passed on him, the Dodgers selected him in the third round of the June draft, then signed him to a contract that guaranteed him $1 million spread over six years if he renounced football.

He went on to hit .311-1-31 in 55 games for Great Falls in 2001, then hit .274-1-38 in 2002 for South Georgia. However, he had trouble with his catching mechanics, particularly in throwing, so was returned to the South Atlantic League in 2004 with Columbus where he hit .264-5-50.

In spring training 2005, it was decided to make him an outfielder, a position he had played part time, and it was as such that he opened the season with Vero Beach. He was batting .231 -2-11 after 23 games when Dodger brass reversed themselves to promote him to Las Vegas to be a catcher again but as a backup behind Dioner Navarro when Mike Rose was called up to L.A.

When Navarro was promoted to the major league team, Rose was returned to Las Vegas where Nixon continued to play a reserve role. He went on to hit .226-2-17 in 46 games. Toward the end of the season, he was dropped back to Jacksonville to again become a sub behind Russell Martin, playing in just six games in which he hit .150.

He spent the fall in the Florida Instructional League, working as a catcher, first baseman and outfielder. With Navarro, Martin and perhaps others ranked above him, he was not brought up to the 40-man roster at the end of the season and was not picked by another team in the Rule 5 draft in December although he was eligible.

Under NCAA rules, Nixon has four years of college eligibility in football but can't receive an athletic scholarship nor can he play college baseball. He also would forfeit the remainder of his bonus to the Dodgers if he leaves them.