The title of this piece is too obvious. Brandon Nimmo, a 2011 first round draft pick taken ahead of Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez should stand out. No? But the outfielder from Wyoming’s development path has been slow. At a development stage when most top prospects are assigned to full season squads, Nimmo was returned to extended spring training and assigned to Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League in 2012. At 19, he produced 35% better than league average in 2012. However, it’s difficult to avoid focusing on a triple slash line of .248/.372/.406.
Video after the jump
Finally in full season, Nimmo has achieved a .447/.518/.574 line through twelve games and shows no signs of slowing down. Having scouted him a couple of times against the Rome Braves, the left-handed hitter deserves mention with the very best the South Atlantic League has to offer. He’s also much improved from the player J.D. Sussman scouted last season while in Brooklyn.
The Mets have oversold Nimmo’s athleticism but he is an interesting package. His approach is passive, he is content letting pitch after pitch go by as he waits on a fastball, preferably low in the zone. His pitch recognition needs considerable work and presently undermines his hit tool. Power could be his carry tool, it has the potential to be plus. Right now Nimmo is very raw and a full season assignment would be aggressive. But I don’t see the Mets keeping him in Brooklyn either.
Listed at 180 pounds, the six-foot-three Nimmo appeared 20 pounds heavier in person. Well-proportioned, discussion of him “outgrowing center field” is overblown. At full physical maturity, Nimmo may be 15-20 pounds heavier than he is now, but doesn’t have the frame to become bulky.
At the plate, Nimmo combines a patient approach with the ability to consistently barrel baseballs in the strike zone. In expecting to see a project, Nimmo’s polish was surprising. Most every ball put in play was hard hit resulting in gap power to all fields.
The most impressive swing of the two game set came against Braves organizational player Williams Perez. On an 89 mph fastball tailing down and away from Nimmo, he sat back beautifully, let the ball travel to his back hip and scorched a line drive single up the middle.
As Nimmo continues learn how to identify pitches to drive, his power should uptick as well. Early in the season, his strikeout and walk percentages have both decreased. While one might dismiss this as small sample size, Nimmo’s controlled aggression is a sign of growth from a scouting standpoint when compared to the player Sussman saw.
If this holds true, then Nimmo is bound to put baseballs in play at a higher rate than last season, resulting in the accumulation of extra base hits. He’s the type of hitter who may never present with more than average-to-above power, but it will play up.
Beyond strong plate discipline, Nimmo also features a simple set up and swing mechanics. When his hips and hands work in unison, easy power is present as the ball explodes off the barrel. When he leads with the hips, bat drag is present. Repetition will remedy this.
On defense, Nimmo went untested in the two game look. With his athleticism and stride length, nothing stood out as reasons why Nimmo would not be able to function in center field. Reads and route running may result in his moving to a corner, but he has 3-500 more minor league games to figure it out.
Running the bases, Nimmo isn’t as slow as his career 25% success rate would indicate. It would not surprise me if he finished the year with double-digit stolen bases.
The Mets organization has been patient with Nimmo and it’s beginning to pay off. Of current Major Leaguers, his upside projection falls in the .285/.350/.450 range. In 2012, corner outfielders who fit this profile include Orioles Nick Markakis, Rangers David Murphy and Royals Alex Gordon.
By the end of the 2013 season, don’t be surprised if Nimmo has overtaken Wilmer Flores as the best position prospect in the organization, assuming Travis D’Arnaud loses eligibility later in the season.
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