Heels On The Farm: Brandon Nimmo credits off-season for outstanding 2014 start

Brandon Nimmo - Mark Cunningham, Getty Images

When he stepped into view on the steps of the Brooklyn Cyclones dugout, he was an eighteen year old Wyoming kid.

He'd been drafted by the New York Mets in the first round (13th overall) of the 2011 June MLB Draft. and was making his short-season A-ball debut in the New York Penn League. Anticipation was high under the lights. Having come from one of the three states with no high school baseball program (South Dakota and Montana are the other two), he talked honestly about the work he'd have to put in to succeed. He'd already overcome the odds.

Two years later, Brandon Nimmo is playing in the Florida State League for the St. Lucie Mets, and his .477 OBP and .932 OPS lead the league. He also leads overall in walks (45) and runs scored (42),  finishing April with 38 hits in 26 games.

He's improved on his already solid talent in the two years since short-season A-ball, his mind is firmly planted in the reality that there's far to go.

"Everything needs improving," he said Thursday afternoon. "I know I have the tools, and I flash them at times. But defense, power, consistency, hitting overall can improve. That will come with repetition and facing more talented guys."

After hitting .248 with 66 hits in 69 games in Penn League, he spent all of 2013 in the South Atlantic League. In 110 games he hit .273, knocking in 40 runs, and worked 71 walks.

Despite the hot start to 2014, Nimmo, who MLB.com ranked the Number Four Mets prospect and who ranked as Number Seven on the Minor League Ball list, hasn't felt one hundred percent comfortable at the plate this season.

"Actually, there's definitely been an adjustment period. There's been days and even weeks where I struggled. I've had to go back in the cages and work on adjusting."

He connects this season's success with his off-season program. His extra strengthening efforts led to putting on about ten pounds during the winter. He also worked on increasing his speed, something he was able to do outdoors all winter in Bradenton, Florida. He committed to staying in Florida all year to work out at a facility that he feels made all the difference.

"I got bigger and stronger and faster. It's a place built to get you better. You're working on having maximum mental and physical performance with five hour workouts a day. The off-season there was very important to my success this season." He said that yoga was also part of the program, something that was new to him. "Some people think it's just stretching, but it stabilizes small muscles in your shoulders, and strengthens your core, which are very important especially in baseball."

Applying all he's learned, he's focused on his own plan, but with an awareness that the guy on the mound has his own.

"Moving up higher, they'll exploit your weaknesses. So I have to turn my weaknesses into strengths. I realize what I need to work on and pride myself on doing that."

The kid from Wyoming really hasn't changed.

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