New York Mets fans have been waiting 20 years for the arrival of outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo. Actually it has just been five years, the 2011 first-round pick making a steady rise up the farm system ladder and now reaching the major leagues today at age 23. What can we expect?
When Nimmo was drafted out of high school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he drew raves as a potentially explosive power/speed player. He's fought nagging injuries and never quite exploded with the bat, but he's made progress. First, the pre-season view from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
Bats: L Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 205 DOB: March 27, 1993
2012: Grade B; 2013: Grade B-; 2014: Grade B-; 2015: Grade B
At this stage, I think what we see is what we get with Brandon Nimmo. He’ll draw some walks and play quality outfield defense, but I’m growing doubtful about the power development and his platoon splits remain troublesome, if not as bad as they were a couple of years ago. He’s gained 20 pounds of size and strength since high school with little appreciable change in in-game power due to the way his swing works. Messing with his swing mechanics or overall approach could cause more trouble than it is worth. His rating continues to hover in the lower range of the Bs as a guy who can be a fine role player but probably not a first-division starter. Grade B-.
Nimmo played well in Triple-A this year, hitting .328/.409/.508 with five homers,33 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 250 at-bats for Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. He's certainly benefited from the friendly home park, hitting .363/.441/.529 at home. Road production has not been as robust, though .304/.387/.493 is still solid, even in the pro-offense PCL. His platoon splits are close to even this year, which is a good marker.
The basic profile for Nimmo has not changed. He's lost a bit of speed since high school and is not much of a stolen base threat, but his defensive instincts are impressive and he is a quality defender in center field. His arm is average but accurate and he can play all three outfield positions very well, though he has the most experience in center.
Major league clubs will find a spot for someone like that, though whether Nimmo is a regular or a fourth outfielder will depend on his bat. He makes contact readily and has a good eye for the strike zone. On-base percentage is one of his strengths; if anything, some scouts think he may be too selective. His .508 SLG this year is the best of his career but he's also hitting in the easiest power context of his pro tenure. His isolated power has increased only slightly, and applying a robust "Pacific Coast League stat deflator" seems wise. Don't expect him to be slugging .508 in the National League and even .408 may be a stretch in the short run.
Long-term, Nimmo projects to be a .260 hitter, .280ish at his peak, with a very good OBP and doubles power. I wouldn't be surprised by a home run power spike in his late 20s but don't expect it in the short run; he's still just 23. His defense and on-base abilities should make him a valuable piece for the Mets,or anyone else for that matter.