McALLEN — Whether manning the gap between second and third base or on the pitcher’s mound, McAllen High’s Aaron Nixon shut opponents down.
The junior shortstop and pitcher led the Bulldogs to a 25-10-1 record as the University of Texas commit struck out 137 batters and put together a fielding percentage of .953, earning himself the title of The Monitor’s All-Area Baseball Defensive Player of the Year.
“I never got too high, never got too low, just came in relaxed every game and competed,” Nixon said.
Nixon’s competitive nature comes from his father Beau, who served in the United States Marine Corps. At age 10, Nixon first saw that competitiveness in himself while playing in the Travel Ball Select 11-Under National Championship game on ESPN. Nixon was named the Most Valuable Player of the game as his three RBIs led his Heroes team to a national championship.
Since then, Nixon has gone on to rock the purple and gold of McAllen High, the black and white of the Banditos Baseball Club, and an American League jersey as he recently played in the 2019 MLB High School All-Star Game on July 6 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Nixon earned a spot in the All-Star Game by performing well in Major League Baseball’s first-ever Prospect Development Pipeline League in June, which featured 80 of the top juniors from across the United States. Players had the opportunity to listen and learn from baseball greats like Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter — players Nixon looked up to as a youngster.
“(Chipper Jones) was behind the plate when I was hitting and he was showing me a lot of stuff. He was a great mentor and it was a great time up there,” Nixon said. “The coolest moment was when Derek Jeter walked into the room. Everybody was kind of star struck. It was just a cool thing to do. Got to meet a lot of big names and hall of famers. Got to meet Andy Pettitte, he was my pitching coach for three weeks, which was great. It was an unbelievable experience.”
While that experience was great for Nixon, he left plenty of opponents with an experience they’d like to forget. Of the 285 batters Nixon faced, he struck out nearly half.
“I think striking people out is a lot of fun. It’s probably my favorite part of pitching and I go for it. To have 137 strikeouts this year was a dream,” he said.
With his stellar numbers and production, Nixon knows he wouldn’t be as effective without the help of Chris Bernal, McAllen High’s catcher and the rock behind the plate.
“He’s a freaking wall back there. Without a great catcher, you can’t be a great pitcher, and he’s caught me since we were 9-years-old, so it’s great,” Nixon said. “We just go through that sequence, get through the game and I just love to compete, Chris loves to compete, and we just get in the zone together.”
Nixon, Bernal and the Bulldogs will be back next school year with McHi as it returns a loaded group determined to improve on this past season’s second-round playoff exit.
“We’re going to have a great team,” Nixon said. “We have eight guys coming back. Everybody’s working hard right now, going to tournaments and playing. It’s going to be great getting back together and going to work.”