Last week, I did a write-up defending Gavin Cecchini from the horde of skeptics that have continually looked down on him. This week I am continuing on that trend, but I don’t think I need much convincing when it comes to the next player, Brandon Nimmo.
In June of 2011, the Mets took Brandon Nimmo 13th overall in the Rule IV First Player’s draft out of Cheyenne, Wyoming. We all know his story, coming from a notoriously cold state with no high school baseball, which made it convenient for so many to write him off. Never mind the fact that he played in many national and premier showcases against players from the top baseball programs in the country and shined as bright as the rest of them. Nimmo destroyed his closest competition and excelled while playing baseball in an American Legion League, where he batted .551 with 98 hits, 23 doubles, 16 triples and 14 homers in 178 at bats. That’s eight more extra-base hits than singles for all of you trying to do the math. So lets end the myth that he never even played baseball in high school, that’s true, but he did play baseball everywhere he could and was among the top players every time. Lets move on.
The reason Paul Depodesta picked him 13th overall after being called really raw?
Paul said post-draft that he wanted to signal a transition from low-ceiling college picks as Omar had drafted in his tenure to high-ceiling and high-risk and reward players, which was exactly the mold where Nimmo fit. And so, Nimmo became the highest drafted player out of Wyoming, ever.
The high risk, you already know from the fact that there is no real high school baseball to train with. But the high reward is intriguing. It looks as though Nimmo could be a true 5-tool player when it comes down to it. Even MLB’s Jon Mayo and Baseball America seem to agree. Baseball America says in its scouting report of Nimmo that he could have average to plus skills across the board. Jon Mayo gives him all average to above average scouting grades shown below, courtesy of MLB.com.
Scouting Grades* (present/future):
Hit: 4/6 | Power: 4/6 | Run: 5/5 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 4/5
Five grades of average or better skills (5 on the scouting scale) usually translates to a 5 tool player, by the way, and all of Nimmo’s future grades seem to point to it, as well as what Baseball America said.
My own scouting report.
I witnessed a game with Nimmo in Brooklyn last year and wrote up my own scouting report as well:
Brandon Nimmo, Outfielder of the Mets has a tall, skinny build with room to grow still.
In his one game I witnessed, he struck out twice and walked once, leading to concern after watching that he was diving after buried breakers. I did not see him hit a ball, but with his frame and swing, he could live up to a 5 or 6 bat as well as above average power.
His play in the outfield was not impressive, just okay. He used a fundamental approach to step back before running forwards for a fly ball. Although fundamental, this gives the idea that he is hesitant due to a lack of experience of reads off the bat. His speed seemed to be below-average in the outfield. With his speed, it is suggestible that he moves to a corner when it is deemed necessary in his development.
In an interview with Nimmo by SNY, he seemed to acknowledge the areas he needed improvement in, including reads off the bat in the field, and getting back into the groove of hitting the middle-out pitch, which is where he likes to hit it. As well, he said that he gained weight working out in Arkansas and went from 6’1” with 178 pounds to 6’2” with 195 pounds.
In his first stint, the Mets sent him to the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .241 with 2 homers and 5 singles in 29 at bats (there was nothing else by the way). He was later pushed up to Kingsport where he hit .111 in 9 at bats (1 single). It seemed like a disappointing first time in the pros for anyone, let alone Brandon Nimmo. Thankfully, he didn’t have as bad of a season as Shaq Green-Thompson did this year.
His next year however, he was sent, surprisingly enough, to Brooklyn where he hit .248 with 20 doubles, 3 triples, and 6 home runs. Those numbers would make anyone think that he had a bad season, but he didn’t. There are a few reasons why I say this.
First of all, Nimmo was sent to the New York-Penn League a notorious league where many newly drafted collegiate baseball players are sent after being signed. He was sent there, being 19, as the 10th youngest player, and arguably the rawest player out of any teenager in the league. The median age of the league was nearly 22 by the way, so Brandon was playing over his head by three years at least. Hitting .248 with considerable power after not having much competitive experience is considerably incredible.
Now take into account the whole psychological aspect. You’re 19 years old with barely any competitive experience. You’re from a city that just cracked 60,000 people, and playing in front of 1/5th of that population on any given night. You’re also playing as the Number 1 Draft Pick for a large market team in the most pressurized sports city in the country. All 12,000 people in that stadium are judging you before your career even starts to amp up. Imagine that? That makes hitting .248 seem more incredible.
Now take account the actual stadium. The right field wall at MCU Park faces the bay at Coney Island, providing comfort for a pitcher facing a lefty bat, and a nice breeze for anyone sitting along the third base side. As a former employee whose job was to watch many games at MCU Park, there was only one time that I saw a home run hit over the right field wall in 2010, and that includes batting practice. Only one was counted, and it was hit by none other than Juan Centeno. He managed to hit one under the wind and out by merely a few feet. When I watched from behind the cage, most people’s hits died before the warning track, thanks to that wind. Even Ike Davis couldn’t accomplish hitting one out during any game that he played in during his stint in Brooklyn which caused many to begin labeling him as a bust..
Now this is amazing: last year, Nimmo hit two home runs to right field. One was a grand slam. He managed to pull two home runs at this park, where Ike Davis, our major league premium power first baseman couldn’t. He hit four more on the road, tied with four others for 6th in the league. He also ranked 4th in doubles in the League.
To put even more good news on the table about this past season, Nimmo also led our team in walks (46) which ranked second in the league. The person who placed first was three years older and had college experience before playing in the league. The fantastic part behind this is that most players out of high school do not feature good plate discipline, something that Nimmo achieved early on. He did strike out a considerable amount (78), but that’s development, and he’ll learn that too.
Overall, Nimmo had a solid year in Single-A Short Season Brooklyn, not the bad one some perceived. It’s important to understand what you’re looking at and put that into context on many different levels. Baseball America ranked him 11th on their top 20 prospects list for the league. It would have been preferable to see him in the top 10, but he has enough time to prove himself to the scouts. He has proved to me from what I’ve seen and reports I’ve had the opportunity to analyze that Nimmo is a legitimate first round draft pick.
For next year, I, like most other people, feel that he is going to end up in full season Single-A Savannah. What I project for him is something along these lines:
.275 – .280 – 30 doubles – 12 homers – 5 steals
The reason behind these projections is his development in the New York-Penn League providing him an edge over players in the South Atlantic League, because many of these players ascend to High-A instead of Low-A.
It’s exciting to think what Nimmo is going to do, and what his future might hold. Keep in mind though, he is still young, and very, very raw, so watch out if he doesn’t meet your expectations. Either way, he will be exciting to follow in Savannah.