If you haven’t checked out this article by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, I urge you to take a few minutes to read it – it’s a nice piece on Mets centerfield prospect, Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
The talented outfielder with the cool moniker of Captain Kirk, is a package of baseball tools who, just nine months ago, was on the cusp of the Major Leagues, writes DiComo.
A lefty-swinging center fielder whose greatest strength may actually be his lack of weaknesses, Nieuwenhuis was outperforming projections of his talent and well-positioned to force his way to Citi Field by late summer.
It’s a shame he got hurt and missed his chance to show the Mets what he was capable of last season. I remember how how much buzz he was generating from scouts and minor league experts.
I’m not sure how the team will handle him now that they’ve traded for veteran Andres Torres, who Terry Collins has called everyday centerfielder and leadoff man. Nieuwenhuis might have to go back to Buffalo and push the envelope by getting off to a sizzling start and maybe even hitting for some additional power which would certainly get him noticed.
DiComo concludes his article with a hopeful flourish:
Outperforming his projections is hardly impossible. Before his injury last May, Nieuwenhuis was enjoying a breakout season, batting .298 with six home runs, five steals and a .403 on-base percentage, thanks in large part to 32 walks in 53 games. His defense may not be as refined as that of Den Dekker and his raw hitting skills may not be as sharp as those of Nimmo. But because Torres is clearly not the long-term solution in center field, and because Nieuwenhuis is the outfield prospect closest to the big leagues, he should — at some point over the next six to 12 months — have the first opportunity to stake his claim to center.
What he does with that status, beginning this spring, will ultimately define his future.
“I’m itching to play again,” said Nieuwenhuis, who will report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., more than a week early. “It feels like forever since I’ve played a game. I’m just super excited to get back into it and get back in the swing of things. I’m more excited for this Spring Training than I’ve ever been.”