6. Brandon Nimmo, OF
Height: 6'3”, Weight: 205 lbs.
DOB: 3/27/1993 (23)
Acquired: 1st round, 2011 Draft (East High School, Wyoming)
2016: Las Vegas (Triple-A): 97 G, 444 PA, .352/.423/.541, 16.4 strikeout rate, 10.4 walk rate / New York (MLB): 32 G, 80 PA, .274/.338/.329, 25.0 strikeout rate, 7.5 walk rate
Still a prospect despite being drafted in 2011, many have succumbed to prospect fatigue and the fact that Brandon Nimmo has no standout tools and written him off. While his stock did not rise significantly, the Wyoming native had a good season in 2016 and showed more of a pulse than many attributed to him.
His production at the plate was PCL-assisted, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t encouraging aspects that can be gleaned from his time in Triple-A—especially the minimization of the platoon splits that had plagued him for most of his professional career. Multiple injuries, swing changes, and the progression of time have dampened expectations, but on the whole, Nimmo still has a solid, albeit unexciting, baseball profile. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions. He has an excellent eye at the plate and only offers at pitches he likes, leading to a plethora of walks and few mistakes. He still shows good power during batting practice and might still yet translate it into in-game power. Despite a lower ceiling, Nimmo still has a useful floor.
There’s still a chance Nimmo can develop into a useful fourth outfielder, a player who can play a few times a week against weak righties while playing all three outfield positions. There’s also still a chance he can play every day, though the odds of that diminish if he doesn’t play center and has to make up for it with the bat. He still has a good eye at the plate and decent raw power, though it remains to be seen if he can bring that power into the game consistently. It’s hard not to just see a higher-contact, less-powerful version of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, which is a useful depth player on a first-division team.
Hoping for the flashes of raw power to show up on a consistent in game basis is folly at this point. Nimmo is a fourth outfielder who can survive in center and beat up right handed pitching while also launching an huge home run every once in a while. That’s not an exciting profile, but it’s a useful one.
I buy into the Kevin Long swing changes. Not looking at his PCL-inflated numbers, but rather the trends, everything I saw from Nimmo was encouraging. He got better as the season went on. He exhibited no platoon splits in over 100 at-bats against left-handed pitchers. I don’t think all of his platoon issues were solved, but I wouldn’t have a problem starting him on a regular basis, sitting him only against the toughest lefties. My high esteem of the outfielder is predicated on his ability to stay in center field, but by all accounts, he is still able to handle the position adequately. If it turns out he can only handle left field, Nimmo becomes a much less exciting player, but his combination of on-base ability and solid numbers against right-handed pitchers is still a valuable commodity.