9. Tomas Nido, C
Height: 6', Weight: 205 lbs.
DOB: 4/12/1994 (22)
Acquired: 8th round, 2012 Draft (Orangewood Christian High School, Florida)
2016: St. Lucie (High-A): 90 G, 370 PA, .320/.357/.459, 7 HR, 0/1 SB, 11.4 strikeout rate, 5.1 walk rate
Coming into the 2016 season, Tomas Nido was known more as a low-average, low-OBP, moderate-power hitter. That meant he’d be able to slug a few home runs every now and then when he caught up with a pitch he liked, but not much more could be expected.
The catcher from Florida transformed himself at the plate in 2016, winning the Florida State League batting title with a .320 batting average. Nido’s gains were not all just smoke and mirrors. Thanks to better bat speed and barrel control as compared to seasons past, he cut his strikeout rate nearly in half compared to 2014 and 2015 while maintaining a similar walk rate and BABIP. Combined with the plus raw power he demonstrated during batting practice and solid gap power he demonstrated in-game, such gains make Nido dangerous at the plate.
Behind the plate, Nido has always had a good reputation. Mature and all business, he is a leader, well-respected by pitchers. He is quick and agile behind the plate, solid at framing and blocking pitches. He regularly posts above-average pop-up times, and thanks to a quick transfer, above-average arm strength, and accuracy, he threw out 42% of runners that attempted to steal on him in 2016.
Nido came out of nowhere in 2016. Having not hit much at any of his previous stops, he cut his strikeout rate to 11.4% and hit for more power than ever before. He does it with a quick bat and short stride that compensate for some other moving parts in the swing that I’m not a huge fan of. His defense is reportedly very good, so when you add it all up there’s a potential major leaguer here.
Catching prospects are perhaps the most perplexing part of the minor leagues. Nido exploded last year, cutting his strikeouts in half, walking more, and hitting for more power. It’s very tricky to nail down framing proficiency in the minor leagues, but at least Nido’s arm strength rates as solid. Nido will be in his age 23 season at Double-A, making him on the older side for a prospect, but there’s a potentially above-average catcher here.
Nido flashed a tantalizing glimpse of what might be possible, with his offense clicking on all cylinders. The major reduction in strikeouts was very promising, and while the walk rate wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible either. I think that Nido’s breakout was legit, and while he may not have as good a season in 2017, he will once again impress us.