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Brandon Nimmo could be Mets’ fifth outfielder for 2017

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A hamstring injury might delay the start of his season.

MLB: New York Mets at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If not for a hamstring injury he suffered during a World Baseball Classic game, Brandon Nimmo would probably be a near lock to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster. The outfielder is one of many on the Mets’ 40-man roster, but given the context of all of the other players in that mix, Nimmo’s role would seem fairly clear, at least to start the season.

If it seems like Nimmo has been with the Mets forever, that might be because this June will mark the sixth anniversary of the day the team drafted him in the first round with the 13th overall pick. As he worked his way up the minor league ranks, Nimmo’s numbers at the plate were typically good but never really jumped off the page.

Last year in Las Vegas, though, he took well to the Triple-A game in the hitter-friendly environment of the league and the 51s’ home ballpark and had a .352/.423/.541 line there. Some of that production should absolutely be attributed to the conditions, but it was a big improvement from what he had done in Vegas in his time there in 2015. And his 2016 line compared well to the rest of the league.

With that, he made his major league debut, and the cliché—that he held his own—seems fair. From late June through early August, he hit just .237/.297/.288. The highlight of that span was undoubtedly his first major league home run, which was mammoth in its trajectory. The Mets sent him back to the minors in early August and brought him back up to the big leagues in September. He only made 16 plate appearances from then through the end of the season, but he hit .429/.500/.500 in them. Add that to his first stint, and he finished the year with a .274/.338/.329 line and an 87 wRC+.

That doesn’t make Nimmo a lock for future success at baseball’s highest level, but there were at least encouraging signs. Still rookie-eligible, we ranked Nimmo the Mets’ sixth-best prospect on our top twenty-five this year. The general consensus among our prospect-writing crew was that Nimmo could be useful at the major league level.

With Michael Conforto ticketed for Las Vegas to play on an everyday basis and Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce locked in as starters, Nimmo makes sense on the Mets’ bench alongside Juan Lagares. Whenever his hamstring is healthy, it would seem Nimmo will get that chance—and the chance to prove he’s in the majors for good.