Brandon Nimmo made his long-awaited major league debut in June, just over five years after the Mets picked him 13th overall in the June 2011 amateur draft. Nimmo was the first ever draftee of Sandy Alderson’s front office, and he was an interesting and unconventional pick—the sort who seemed to dovetail rather perfectly with Alderson’s reputation as a wily and independent-minded baseball executive. It was obvious Nimmo was talented, but there was risk involved in choosing him.
On the surface, there was nothing unusual: Brandon Nimmo, 18 years old at the time, was an athletic center fielder with exceptional plate discipline, terrific makeup, and a lean frame that—according to the armchair physiologists who comprise MLB’s scouting corps—was sure to add muscle over time. The catch? High schools in Wyoming do not have baseball teams, and Brandon Nimmo, born and raised in Cheyenne, had only ever played Legion ball.
Suffice to say Nimmo’s progress through the minor leagues was incremental. His outstanding plate discipline played up immediately, but questions soon arose as to whether his approach was, in fact, too passive. There was also concern about Nimmo’s lack of in-game power—the main problem there being, of course, that it placed added pressure on him to remain in center field. Nimmo also fell prey to a succession of injuries that, it seemed, hampered his progress and made it difficult for fans and scouts to evaluate his skills and project his future.
Despite these frustrations, Nimmo gradually ascended through the minor leagues, showing eventual improvement after an adjustment period at each successive level. In keeping with this pattern, Nimmo started 2016 in Las Vegas after an underwhelming, if decent, showing at that level in 112 plate appearances at the end of 2015. Notwithstanding the Pacific Coast League’s generosity to offense, Nimmo finally demonstrated improved in-game power as 2016 got underway. And when Michael Conforto’s protracted slump necessitated a demotion, Nimmo was the obvious choice to replace him on the major league roster.
Nimmo tallied a mere 80 plate appearances with the Mets in 2016, so it would be folly to try to glean much from those results. Still, he got his initial exposure to major league pitching, which was probably a useful experience for him, and he gave the Mets much-needed innings and positional versatility in the outfield. He also radiated pure joy during his time in Flushing and ingratiated himself to a lot of people in the process.
Amazin’ Avenue’s intrepid prospect analysts recently wrote about what we might expect from Nimmo going forward. It seems clear that Nimmo, who is still only 23 years old, is going to be a useful major league outfielder in some capacity, whether as a backup or as an eventual starter. And while it may sometimes seem like Nimmo has been around forever, it is worth noting that his career, and the true test of his talent, is only just beginning.