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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Fourteen

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, July 15th to July 21st?

MLB: New York Mets at Cincinnati Reds
Tomas Nido
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Pitcher of the Week

Tony Dibrell

2018 Season: 16 G (16 GS), 90.2 IP, 79 H, 42 R, 34 ER (3.38 ERA), 42 BB, 106 K (Low-A)

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K (Low-A)

Tony Dibrell did not make our Mets Top 25 Prospects list this past winter, but I ranked Dibrell 19 on my own personal list, and will be ranking him higher next winter, assuming he continues pitching like he has. When he is on, he is as good as any of the top arms in the system. In fact, he compares very favorably to Justin Dunn when you analyze their stuff side-by-side. Dunn has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s, tops out around 96 MPH, and features plenty of life; Dibrell has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s, tops out around 94 MPH, and does not feature much life but a bit of sink. Dunn has a low-to-mid 80s slider with late, sharp break that above-average-to-plus; Dibrell has a low-80s slider with late, sharp break that flashes average-to-above-average. Dunn has a firm mid-to-high-80s changeup that flashes average; Dibrell has a high-70s-to-low-80s changeup that flashes average-to-above-average. Dunn has a get-me-over 11-5 curveball in the high-70s that flashes fringe-average. Dibrell has a 11-5 curveball in the low-to-mid-70s that flashes average.

The biggest difference between the two is that while Dunn has fringe-average command, Dibrell has below-average command. In the 16 games that he has started this season, he has not walked a single batter just once. In two starts, he walked just one batter, and in the remaining 13, he walked two or more. When Dibrell is finding himself hittable, the free passes to batters do not help the situation.

The reason for his control problems stem from a bit of effort in his delivery and assorted mechanical flaws in it. His arm circle in the back is mostly clean, but he has a slight stab, which, when done a little too emphatically, can lead to control problems when it jerks the body right before throwing. When he plants his stride foot, he often strikes the ground pointing between third base and home plate, rather than towards home plate. Landing “closed” makes it difficult for the hips and shoulders to properly rotate, opening too soon, which cuts short the body’s natural momentum carry-through, leading to control and can even lead to injury issues.

The right-hander arguably could’ve been pushed harder this season, given that Kennesaw State is a Division I school- maybe not the best, but a Division I school nonetheless- and he was a semi-polished college arm when he was drafted last year. I am a little surprised that the team didn’t promote him to St. Lucie already, but given that they promoted Anthony Kay, David Peterson and Joe Cavallaro, it simply might’ve been because they did not want to completely disrupt the St. Lucie or Columbia pitching rotations by moving too many people. If that is the case, though, Dibrell certainly has more upside than any other starting pitcher on the St. Lucie Mets not named Kay or Peterson, so giving players like Cavallaro, or Gabby Llanes, or Blake Taylor precedence over him is a bit puzzling.

Hitter of the Week

Tomas Nido

2018 Season: 44 G, 164 AB, .280/.308/.451, 46 H, 17 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 5 BB, 31 K, 0/0 SB (Double-A/Triple-A)/21 G, 44 G, .159/.208/.182, 7 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 16 K, 0/0 SB

Week: 6 G, 23 AB, .435/.435/.696, 10 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, 0/0 SB (Double-A)

After scuffling with the Mets at the beginning of the year, Nido was sent back down to the minor leagues and he’s quietly been putting up solid numbers. In 38 games with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, he is hitting .286/.307/.463. He spent the majority of his 2017 season with the Rumble Ponies, and hit .232/.287/.354, so it is good to see improvement.

Digging a little deeper, though, there are reasons to be concerned. Nido is only walking at a 2.0 % rate, having drawn only 3 free passes in 153 plate appearances. This is down from the 7.4 % rate he posted last season with Binghamton, the 5.1 % rate he posted in 90 games with the St. Lucie Mets in 2015, and even the 3.6 % rate he posted in 86 games with the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2014. Nido is a very BABIP-dependent hitter- this season, his BABIP is .336 and he is hitting .286/.307, last season, his BABIP was .255 and he hit .232/.287, and the year before his BABIP was .344 and he hit .320/.357- with a lot of has a lot of swing-and-miss in his bat, so it is important that he draws walks in order to reach base at a palatable level.

He is pulling the ball a lot more this year, with 49.6% of his hits being pulled, 24.4 % being hit up the middle, and 26.1% being hit to the opposite field. This is up roughly 10% from 2017, when he posted a low batting average, and 2016, when he won the Florida State League batting title. He is hitting slightly more fly balls with this new pull-heavier approach, and why they aren’t translating into home runs, they are translating into extra base hits. Through 38 games, Nido has 15 doubles. In 102 last season, he totaled 19 doubles, and in 90 games in 2016, he totaled 23, putting the backstop on pace to set a career high this season. Nido has had trouble harnessing his above-average raw power during games because of his swing, so it will be interesting to see if the uptick in doubles and slight downturn in home runs is just statistical noise or if it means something. The catcher could be purposefully shortening his swing and selling out for power less in order to control his barrel, resulting in better contact and more doubles over more swings-and-misses and more home runs.

If nothing else, Tomas Nido will always have his defense. In terms of receiving and throwing, he is a slightly above-average catcher. Though he’s a bit stocky, he moves well, is nimble behind the dish, and knows how to frame a pitch. He posts roughly average pop times from the crouch and has an above-average arm that gets carry, though his accuracy is fringe-average-to-average. He’s a leader on the field, chatting more than usual with his pitchers and infielders, and they all seem to respect him and enjoy working with him. That profile alone should give him plenty of rope in the years to come to prove himself.