New York Mets Prospect Mailbag - 5/12: Harvey's Flaws & Where's Nimmo?

With a couple of interesting questions trickling through I'd say it's most certainly about time for our first Prospect Mailbag of 2012.

Our first question came in the Comments section of Friday's 'Mets Daily Farm System Report'. Michkin asked:

Rob, what do you think about this (quote from Bisons Pitching Coach Mark Brewer), especially the part about the thought process and lack of change up:

"Matt (Harvey) did a good job last night without his best stuff, and without the use of his changeup that he’s going to have to throw a little more often. But he got through those six innings and put up six zeroes, and it was good to see for us and for him. But there’s some things that he needs to work on. And we’ve talked about it, and he’s capable of taking it to the next level, for sure. But he’s got to become more efficient and throw less pitches in six innings.

"His thought process at this point is, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,’ from the standpoint of putting zeroes up. You know, this is part of development, even at the Triple-A level. And if you don’t take your changeup with your other two pitches to the big leagues, then it won’t take long for those guys that are making that big league money to catch on." Link

This was my response:

"Ultimately it’s not a huge shock. It’s clear — from this article and watching him in Triple-A — that Harvey’s two biggest problems are the same two problems that plague 95% of pitching prospects, especially of the hard-throwing right-handed variety. Those are:

1) Lack of secondary pitches, namely the change-up

2) Pitch efficiency

The first is something that relates to the ‘if it’s not broke…’ mentality that Brewer mentioned. It’s obviously pretty tough for any young kid who is having success at any level — and has only ever had success in the past — to change his process. Especially if it means he’s going to get hit harder as a result. So obviously it takes buy-in from the pitcher to work on the change-up, regardless of the results. Harvey has always gotten rave reviews for his work ethic and coachability so I’m not especially worried about that. It will just take time to work on it at Triple-A, which hopefully the Mets will stay committed to giving him. For a good negative example, just look at Mike Pelfrey who showed us that it’s about 50x harder to develop a secondary repertoire at the major league level.

The second point is being able to stay economical with pitches to stay in games longer. Almost all young pitchers have an issue with this, mainly because most need to improve command (to varying degrees), so obviously they throw more balls then they should.

Additionally, at the major league level hitters will make them work a lot harder to get those same three outs by way of more hits, more fouls, etc. There’s not a ton for that, except to actually go through it and hopefully figure it out in those crucial first couple formative years. Obviously someone like Clayton Kershaw has gone a long way in that regard (‘08 IP/G: 5.1 | ’11 IP/G: 7.1) while someone like Brandon Morrow still struggles with it (’08 IP/G: 5.6 | ‘11 IP/G: 6.0). While Harvey doesn’t quite have the stuff as either of those two, it’s not a matter of stuff as it is understanding and being able to make adjustments and as I said, he’s been praised for his good makeup in that regard.

So hopefully he’ll be able to improve on both of those fronts as they most certainly go hand-in-hand, which would theoretically make the transition into a consistently effective big league starter much quicker. But it is important that we should remain aware of both of these things as we set our expectations for his first year+ with the big club.

Good question"

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Ed asks:

Just wondering where Nimmo is now and why he isn’t playing for the Gnats. He was in the Opening Day program here, but has not been here in person yet and I see online that they show him with Kingsport, who doesn’t even begin play until June. Do you know what the plan is for him this year? Any chance we will see him in Savannah this year?

Norm asks:

I grew up in Cheyenne, WY and was trying to find out where Brandon (Nimmo) is playing now and how he is doing. I know his brother Bryce was a good ballplayer and played with Joba Chamberlain at Nebraska.

First of all, huh, I didn't realize that 2011 13th overall selection Brandon Nimmo had an older brother who was a pretty decent player in his own right at the University of Nebraska. Bryce wasn't drafted but he did receive a number of awards while he played there, including All Big 12 - Honorable Mention in '08. And yes he did play with Joba.

As for Brandon and his whereabouts, he hasn't been assigned to any team yet. Despite some speculation this spring that he'd begin the season with Savannah -- which is probably why he showed up in their Opening Day program -- he was not among the players at Grayson Stadium on Opening Day

So as of now, he continues to work out in extended spring training. However, with May well underway the short season leagues are only about a month away now, which means some decisions are in order. For Nimmo, the question is Rookie-Level Kingsport -- where he spent about a week in 2011 -- or Short-Season A Brooklyn? Typically you'll find a lot more teenagers in Rookie ball, whereas SS-A is a good mix of young guys as well as newly drafted 20-something college players.

As I mentioned, the 19-yr old Nimmo played with the K-Mets last season but he only got 9 ab's so it's meaningless to figure it using his past performance. It will all come down to how he's been looking in camp and how prepared the club feels he is to face the more advanced pitching he'd see in Brooklyn.

My guess is that he breaks as a Cyclone. Mainly because he's got the kind of natural talent to let him compete against older players and obviously the club knows this. Additionally, while it wasn't necessarily part of his development plan, the club didn't feel shy about pushing fellow premium 2011 teenage draft talent Phillip Evans to Brooklyn for a little while last season.

Send all of your questions about the Mets farm system to AAProspectMailbag@gmail.com!

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