Name: Nick Plummer
Weight: 200 lbs.
Acquired: MiLB FA (November 24, 2021)
Born in Lathrup Village, Michigan, Nick Plummer made Brother Rice High School varsity baseball team in his freshman year and put up excellent season after excellent season with the Warriors, but because he was somewhat undersized and from a cold state, he did not garner much national attention. All of that changed in the summer between his junior and senior seasons, as he put up excellent numbers and flashed impressive baseball tools during while playing exhibition games on the showcase circuit. He contracted mono early in his senior season, which caused him to lose some weight, but he showed no lingering effects from it and hit .500, whacked 22 doubles, 6 triples, and 6 home runs, and stole 32 bases in as many attempts that spring, rocketing him near the top of most national 2015 MLB Draft prospects. The St. Louis Cardinals selected him with their first-round pick, the 23rd selection overall, making him the first player from Michigan to be drafted in the first round since the Yankees selected David Parrish 28th overall in the 2000 MLB Draft and the highest drafted player to be selected from Michigan since that same team selected a young man named Derek Jeter in the 1992 MLB Draft. St. Louis signed Plummer for $2.124 million, buying him out of his commitment to the University of Kentucky and assigned him to their GCL team for the remainder of the 2015 season, where he hit .228/.379/.344 in 51 games with one home run, 8 stolen bases in 14 attempts, and 39 walks to 56 strikeouts.
Considered one of the top players in the Cardinals minor league system by most local and national outlets, Plummer sustained an injury at an unfortunate time in his baseball development, breaking his hamate bone and requiring surgery to remove the bone and to treat a secondary tear in a hand ligament. The outfielder missed the entire 2016 season, needing to wear a cast on his right arm. When it was finally removed, his arm muscles had atrophied, and the weakness was reflective in his 2017 batting line. In 92 games with the Low-A Peoria Chiefs, Plummer hit .198/.353/.288 with 4 home runs, 8 stolen bases in 17 attempts, and a 53:109 walk:strikeout ratio. He returned to Peoria in 2018, and while he performed marginally better, he still struggled, hitting .205/.349/.339 in 104 games with 8 home runs, 10 stolen bases in 17 attempts, and a 67:131 walk:strikeout ratio. A change of scenery in 2019 did not improve things either, as he hit .176/.312/.294 in 96 games with the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals with 5 home runs, 3 stolen bases in 6 attempts, and a 47:119 walk:strikeout ratio.
Following the conclusion of the 2019 season, the Cardinals invited Plummer to a hitting camp and mechanical changes to his swing, flattening the plane of his swing and eliminating unnecessary movement in his set up at the plate. The changes had their intended effect during the clinic but needed to be tested during true in-game situations in order to see if they were going to have a positive impact on Plummer. Unfortunately, the minor league season was cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, the experiment would have to wait. St. Louis worked with Plummer again just prior to the 2021 season to ensure that he would continue utilizing those changes, and when he got back on the field in May, the outfielder reestablished himself as a minor league prospect after years of struggling.
Appearing in 90 games for the Springfield Cardinals, St. Louis’ Double-A affiliate, the 25-year-old Plummer hit .283/.404/.489 with 13 home runs, stole 9 bases in 17 attempts, and drew 53 walks to 108 strikeouts. In early August, he set a Springfield record after reaching base in his 33rd straight game, surpassing Tommy Edman, who reached 32 straight times in 2018, and extended his new club record to 45 games. He was promoted to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds in late August and appeared in 27 games for them, hitting .267/.455/.440 with 2 home runs, 4 stolen bases in 5 attempts, and a 20:18 walk:strikeout ratio. All in all, in the upper levels of the minor leagues, Plummer hit .280/.415/.479 in 117 games, launching a career-high 15 home runs, stealing a career-high 13 bases, and drawing 73 walks to 126 strikeouts.
On November 7, 2021, Plummer elected to become a minor league free agent after the Cardinals did not add him to their 40-man roster. Considered one if, if not the top minor league free agent available, the Mets came to terms with the outfielder roughly two weeks later, on November 24, signing him to a major league contract in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
Plummer stands square at the plate, slightly crouched, with his hands held high and the bat wrapped behind his head. He swings with a slight leg lift and/or toe tap, a change that was made to his mechanics at the plate in 2019. Prior to the change, Plummer swung with a more exaggerated leg kick, but his upper half and lower half would often become out of sync as a result, his upper half unwinding early upon foot strike, reducing torque and bat speed. The change has not only allowed his body to stay in sync better during his forward step but has also given him an extra nanosecond or two to recognize spin and adjust for it. Another key change to his mechanics that was flattening his swing plane. Though his swing generally was short and compact, prior to the changes, Plummer’s swing had too much upward loft, with his bat head coming upwards through the zone, resulting in his bat swinging over pitches, missing completely or making poor contact. By making a conscious effort to flatten his swing through the zone, Plummer has not only made more contact with the ball as compared to years past, but he is also making better contact. The left-hander still strikes out at a fairly high rate, but he supplements the high strikeout rate with a high walk rate. As a high schooler, Plummer had a reputation for having an advanced eye, and despite all of his struggles since then, his patient approach has carried over as a professional.
Defensively, the athletic 5’10”, 200-pound outfielder can play all three positions, profiling best in center field. While his speed has never been much of an asset on the basepaths, he utilizes it well in the outfield. His athleticism is what allows him to stick up the middle, and should he lose some of that as he ages, he will likely be forced to shift to left field, as his arm strength is merely average.