OK, I know. It’s only a week into Spring Training. The fact that the New York Mets’ young outfielder Brandon Nimmo looks amazing and Juan Lagares has barely stepped onto the field yet due to an injured hamstring is beside the point. Isn’t it?
Nimmo, almost 25-years-old (March 27), has come a long way since the Mets drafted him 13th overall in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. Sandy Alderson took a huge gamble using a first round draft pick on a kid who didn’t technically play high-school baseball (in most parts of Wyoming there is no high-school baseball; only travel teams).
Seeing his value, Alderson selected Nimmo and the young man really hasn’t looked back since. The term “professional hitter” gets tossed around quite liberally these days. The last real one I can remember coming through the Mets’ farm system went, quite simply, by the name of “Murph.”
While Nimmo has a long way to go before he reaches the now-All-Star levels of Daniel Murphy, the strides he’s taken since making his way to the big club have been significant. Plus, their games are completely different. But, I digress.
Brandon Nimmo’s MiLB stats tell a big part of his story. Over five-plus seasons at the minor league level, Nimmo slashed .280/.387/.418. Over 2,115 at-bats through the seven levels of the MiLB forest, Nimmo never showed all that much power potential, but his penchant for getting on-base and superb outfield-play make up for that in spades.
He’s clearly been working very hard to get his strikeout numbers down. After beginning his professional career striking out 59 times in 261 at-bats (Single-A+), he was able to significantly reduce the number of times he went down on strikes (142 in 646 at-bats at Triple-A) by the time he made his MLB-debut.
Since making his first appearance in June 2016, Nimmo has a slash line of .264/.367/.392 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 177 at-bats (215 plate-appearances; nice split on AB/PA, huh?). After taking giant leaps last year after sporadic success in his first stint in 2016, Brandon Nimmo finds himself within arm’s grasp of being named the Mets’ Opening Day starting center fielder.
Nimmo has gotten off to a very hot start in PSL. He’s already launched two homers and went 2-for-3 at the dish in the Mets victory against the Detroit Tigers Monday.
He also gives the Mets a potential leadoff hitter, an area of need, with his knack for getting on-base.
“I think one of the reasons they think I can be a leadoff hitter is my approach,’’ Nimmo said. “I’m not trying to do anything differently.’’
With Michael Conforto expected out until May, at the very earliest, the Mets’ center field position is up for grabs this spring. Lagares will hopefully make a true competition out of it, but Nimmo has most definitely jumped out to an early lead so far.
This should be yet another entertaining sub-plot in the soap opera that is Mets’ Spring Training.