The View From Behind the Backstop: Brandon Nimmo

Gordon Donovan

The 2011 first round pick has made it to Double-A, but how many more Jose Fernandez comps will we have to read until he is a major league contributor?

Brandon Nimmo
OF, Binghamton Mets (AA)
Height, weight: 6'3", 205
Age (2014 season age): 21
Acquired: 1st round (13), 2011
Date(s) seen: 6/30-7/3 @ New Britain Rock Cats: 3-12, BB, 5 K
2014 so far:

A+: 279 PA, .322/.448/.458, 51 K/50 BB

AA: 76 PA, .197/.347/.377, 15 K/13 BB

The short of it

Nimmo will likely always struggle against southpaws, and I don't know how much power he develops in the end, but the approach and defensive profile should make him a regular in the majors.

The long of it

Nimmo looks about the same size as when I saw him last year, closer to 225 than 205. He's broad through the shoulders and all lean-muscle, definitely a middle-of-the-order hitter's body as Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus said on the podcast. Nimmo has tweaked his pre-swing routine a bit from the last time I saw him. He's added more pre-swing bat movement, and a bit of a waggle, but he has no issues getting everything into place as he starts his swing. Nimmo employs a wide stance and uses a quick toe tap for timing, but he will on occasion get it down too early and it can leave him lunging. This is more pronounced against lefties, where he tends to be very late on spin and ends up using only his upper body. Overall though, I like the swing tweaks. The weight transfer is clean and easy, and when paired with his solid-average bat speed and strength, he showed the ability to drive the ball into the gaps.

The still-lingering question with Nimmo is how much power he will ultimately develop. He's already hit three home runs for Binghamton since his call-up, and he sure looks like he should be good for 15-20 bombs a season, but he's just never really shown me that in BP or in games. He takes very professional BP sessions, working all fields across his rounds, but just once I would like to see him really put on a show. In games, it's mostly line drives. None of this is bad of course, however I'd just like to see a little more in-game power before I hang my hat on an average or solid-average power projection. We aren't dreaming on an A-ball bat anymore.

One aspect of Nimmo's game that isn't a question is his approach. It's easily the best in the Mets system. One thing to keep an eye on in Double-A is how he adjusts to pitchers with better fastball command. He took a lot of strikes on fastballs away, especially from lefties. That's a pitch you can take in A-ball, because most pitchers won't be able to spot it for strikes with any consistency, but once you get into the upper minors, there are plenty of guys that can locate 88-90 on the outside corner. Nimmo will have to be able to do something with it. Overall though, he has a strong command of the strike zone, and I expect him to continue to post strong walk rates.

Defensively, I am pretty confident that Nimmo can play center field at the highest level. His instincts and routes have improved year-over-year, and he looked good on balls over his head and to either side of him. He's still a plus runner and just eats up ground with his long strides once he gets into second gear. The arm strength is still solid-average, plenty for center, and he's improved his throwing mechanics. Didn't really get to see him air one out to a base, but he made strong, accurate throws from the track to the cutoff man on multiple occasions. He's not going to force Juan Lagares off the position, but he should be at least an average major league centerfielder, and comfortably above-average in left.

 

The optimistic projection

Everyday CF and #2 hitter on the next good Mets team (oh my god I hope that is soon).

The pessimistic projection

Nimmo continues to scuffle against lefties, the power never comes, and he settles into more of a platoon or fourth outfielder role.

What to look for during the rest of the 2014 season

Is Nimmo's power surge since his promotion the start of something real, and can he make even a little progress against lefties.

 

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