And with the 13th pick of the MLB draft, the Mets take ... Brandon Nimmo? From Wyoming?
He's not totally coming out of left field, because the Mets were linked to Nimmo early in the draft preparation period, but with most analysts focused on the college arms available in the draft, Nimmo started to fall under the radar a little. I didn't even write a profile for him here because I didn't think the Mets would go overslot so early. It seems that the Mets intend to spend this year and spend big, because word on the street is that Nimmo wants a bonus of $4 million or more. But what kind of player can he be, and is he worth that kind of money?Nimmo's athleticism is the selling point here. He has a lean, athletic 6-2 body defined by long legs and arms, and those legs work well, giving him above average speed. Unfortunately, Nimmo's been bothered by his right knee this spring, which is the same knee he had ACL surgery upon in 2009. Wearing a brace, he's been moving a little more slowly than he had been in the past. It's a condition that will require some monitoring. If healthy, he has enough present speed to allow him to play center in the minors, but I don't think that will be true as his body matures and that frame starts to collect muscle that will weigh him down. With a strong arm, he ultimately profiles to be a good defensive right fielder with at least solid-average speed. The arm is strong enough to play anywhere.
The good news is that he doesn't need to stay in center to be a useful player for the Mets. Those long limbs and the prospect of filling out that frame could mean that power is on its way. He should be able to leverage the ball for power to all fields, and when he extends completely, he has substantial power to the opposite field. This will especially be true once he gets his swing working well. Right now, Nimmo has the skeleton of a very good swing. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination that allows him to square up well on the ball, and the barrel of his bat spends a long time in the strike zone. He's very short to the ball and has a high finish, but he's overly reliant on his hands—which are very strong—to push the ball where he wants it to go. He'll usually rotate his hips, but he has a tendency to do so too early, before he's even balanced his weight properly. A strong rotational swing will have the arms, hips, and legs all working in concert. Nimmo has the parts working, for the most part, but it will take time to get them to work together. Until that happens, and until he actually adds the muscle we anticipate, the power will remain a projection and nothing more.
The bad news is that Nimmo hasn't really faced competition on a regular basis. His high school didn't have a team, so Nimmo was forced to play American Legion ball instead. His season is still ongoing, so I'd expect the Mets will be monitoring him closely. But it does mean that we don't have a great idea how Nimmo's bat will respond to superior velocity and breaking balls. He has a swing that allows him to make adjustments, and he there isn't a whole lot of length to the swing, so I expect he'll adjust, but we won't know until he signs.
In the end, I expect Nimmo could be the sort of guy who hits .280 with 20-plus homers and a handful of stolen bases a year from a corner outfield spot. But he won't be quick to the majors by any means, and a lot can happen between now and then.
Note: Andy Martino spoke with DePo who mentioned that the Mets took the guy who they felt could have the most impact, not the guy who was safest. It's a fair point, though I still think Josh Bell, who had a similar price tag, could have more. As for the signability issue, Chad MacDonald said the team is confident in a signing. I'd imagine they are; they've had scouts on him forever, and they wouldn't have taken him if they didn't have a good idea of how much this will cost.
Here's a video clip of Nimmo: