Mets fans have already seen several of the club's premier prospects debut in the big leagues this season. After marveling over Noah Syndergaard's hammer and getting a brief glimpse of a now rehabbing Steven Matz, Michael Conforto made his long-awaited arrival on the offensive end. Not too far behind Conforto is the Mets' current top hitting prospect Brandon Nimmo.
The 22-year-old outfielder, selected 13th overall in 2011's amateur draft, is hitting .273/.359/.363 in the minors this year, sporting a .297/.413/.405 batting line through a dozen Triple-A games. Baseball America, who placed him No. 48 in its midseason prospect rankings, noted that "Nimmo isn't a sexy prospect, but he plays center field, gets on base, and shows occasional pop."
During July's Eastern League All-Star Game, Nimmo talked shop with FanGraphs' David Laurila. While many of the game's brightest young hitters make power a top priority, Nimmo is fine with only tallying 23 career homers over the past four years.
"My plan is simply to hit something hard. I'm not trying to hit home runs, or anything like that. Home runs are actually mistakes that come from getting under the ball a little bit. I'm trying to hit line drives, and if I can get something on the barrel, that's where I'm going to have the most velocity and the most chance of having something fall. I want to be short and direct to the ball."
Under general manager Sandy Alderson, who placed an added emphasis on on-base percentage before Moneyball gained notoriety, the Mets have largely targeted and taught patience at the plate. Boasting a 13.9 walk percentage during his minor league tenure, Nimmo embodies that style, but explained the misconceptions he believes onlookers have developed.
"Our hitting philosophy was drilled into me early on. It's basically to get a good pitch to hit. A lot of people misinterpret our hitting philosophy as wanting to draw a walk. That's not what it is. It's to get a good pitch to hit and not be afraid to walk. It's never a bad thing to get on base.
"You also can't be afraid to take strikes. If it's a pitch you can't drive, you probably don't want to go after it unless you have two strikes. You shouldn't be afraid to get to two strikes. You want to get rid of the fear that causes you to just want to put the ball in play. What you want is to get your pitch and put it into play hard."
So when will the lefty take his talents to Flushing? For now, he's simply striving to "be a professional who works hard at what he does."
"How close am I to playing in the big leagues? I have no clue. I can't control anyone's decision-making process is, so I don't know what the time frame is. All I can do is keep working hard. From there, the rest will take care of itself."
He won't post gaudy numbers in the traditional sense, but Nimmo can stick as a contact hitter with a keen batting eye. Laurila cited the Miami Marlins' Christian Yelich as a common pro comparison.