Don’t be fooled, Brandon Nimmo is still a top prospect

Brandon NimmoMets 2011 first-round draft-pick Brandon Nimmo seems to have become a bit of a polarizing figure amongst Mets fans these days. Some fans already see the young outfielder as a bust. Others, including yours truly, feel it’s still incredibly early to make such claims about a 20 year old in his first year of full-season baseball.

Nimmo started 2013 on the Mets’ Low A affiliate, the Savannah Sand Gnats, and he came out of the gate absolutely on fire. Consider his April slash line: .322/.421/.433. Small sample, of course, but the early results were incredibly encouraging. Though the power wasn’t quite where you’d like it to be, he certainly showed a knack for getting on base and putting the barrel on the ball. It should be noted that Historic Grayson Stadium is most certainly a pitcher’s park that is not particularly kind to left-handed hitters.

Unfortunately, Nimmo suffered a hand injury in late April. The issue wasn’t thought to be serious at first, but an abysmal performance in the handful of games after the injury and an inability to take batting practice forced him to the disabled list. While recovering his hand he also suffered a back injury, effectively shutting him down for a month.

Nimmo returned from the disabled list in late May and, as opposed to the start of his season, was absolutely awful. In June his triple slash was .250/.354./.344. That’s an OPS under .700. In July he was even worse: .212/.343./282. He continued to draw walks, but the strikeouts skyrocketed. Though still a premature conclusion, his performance was certainly bad enough to push those on the fence about him to the “bust” side.

Nimmo’s post-injury struggles had those with high hopes for him concerned. Was it a matter of the league adjusting and him not being able to adjust back? Had he simply just become over-matched? These were valid concerns, though most didn’t seem to account for the obvious: he was returning from a hand injury. Savannah Sand Gnats broadcaster and Mets minor league guru Toby Hyde had this to say about Nimmo in July:

“When he returned, it was fairly clear that Nimmo did not trust his hands and was compensating in other areas of his swing. He has admitted as much. Scouts and coaches noticed. Also, since his return, perhaps as a compensation mechanism, he has started landed [sic] more closed with his front stride foot. When his right foot lands too much closer to home plate than his back foot, it prevents his hips from clearing through the swing, and affects his hand path.”

It seemed clear that either his hand wasn’t completely healed or that he didn’t trust it fully once he returned. As if to prove this theory and that he’s gotten past it, Nimmo has been on a tear in August with a triple slash of .368/.525/.474. That’s just about a 1.000 OPS. He’s been hitting the ball harder, better at recognizing pitches and laying off of bad breaking balls, staying back longer, and improved his approach against lefties. He’s also been striking out at a much lower rate than he was in June and July while continuing to draw walks, with 23 walks and 23 strikeouts in August.

We’d all love for the 20 year old to have flown through the system, mashing his way to the majors before his 21st birthday. The fact of the matter is that just does not happen very often and Nimmo is no exception. Some prospects just take a little more time to get the hang of it.

You’ll most certainly see him take hits on many Mets prospects lists this offseason, but don’t let that deter you. Next year will be an especially important year for Nimmo. A strong first half in Advanced A next year could see him getting a taste of AA and the large jump in competition that comes with it. For that to happen, Nimmo will need to end this season strong. So far so good.

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7 comments for “Don’t be fooled, Brandon Nimmo is still a top prospect

  1. August 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

    In addition, I’d offer this tidbit:

    Home — .246/.370/.316 for a .686 OPS
    Road — .313/.433/.422 for an .855 OPS

    Savannah is a well-known pitcher’s park and Nimmo has been hurt by playing half his games there.

  2. August 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

    His strikeout total is frightening though.He makes Den Dekker seem like a contact hitter.

    • za
      August 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      His K% has to do with the learning curve as well as the broken hand. It’s something to keep an eye on but there were obvious extenuating circumstances.

      • August 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

        Right. He was striking out at a fairly high rate before the injury, but it was insanely high during his struggles. I would say it had mostly to do with the learning curve compounded by the injury, especially since in August he’s brought them back down.

  3. Jerry Grote
    August 25, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Nimmo gets to be polarizing because of where he was picked, and his pedigree.

    Like it or not, this will become Steve Chilcott and Reggie Jackson. I’m not projecting Jose Fernandez as an all time great, but there was significant surprise in taking this particular player at 13.

    • August 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Chilcott and Jackson? That’s a bit dramatic at this point, don’t you think?

      If that’s the reasoning, then it’s all being judged in hindsight. There were 12 other teams that chose not to pick Ferndandez along with the Mets. The Mets draft strategy has to be taken into account as well. They felt that it was a strong pitching draft and wanted to snatch one of the few bats that they really liked early, since they were sure he would be gone before their pick in the supplemental first round (he probably would have, too). So they took Nimmo in the first and snatched Fulmer in the supplemental round, a player who is also now highly regarded in their system.

  4. Gonzo
    August 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

    It seems that guys are quick to report something just for the shock. Kid was coming off an injury. I would have just chalked it up to that. And let him get used to playing at the different levels. High strike outs but some guys it takes time. Very premature to potentially write the kid off or bash em since he was injured

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