Sandy Alderson’s Signature Draft Pick Shines in St. Lucie

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Mike:

So far for Mets fans Brandon Nimmo is known as the guy the team drafted instead of Jose Fernandez. Unfair, yes, but that is how it goes many times. Just ask Steve Chilcott, picked number one in 1966 by the New York Mets, ahead of a guy named Reggie Jackson. But when I woke up this morning and looked Nimmo up, I saw the following slash line; .407/.530/549. That’s a good line.

Jimmy:

When discussing bypassed players, you forgot to mention Sonny Gray. He out-dueled Yu Darvish on Monday night and has already started two playoff games. I know the draft is impossibly hard, but when it becomes such a point of emphasis, it’s fair to think critically. That said, Nimmo appears to be developing quite nicely.

Mike:

If Nimmo is turning a corner it could be a huge development for the Mets. Up until now most of our top-notch prospects have all been pitchers. And as we see at Citi Field every day, pitching is a great start, but you do need some hitting. We have a real need for a foundation position player on this team. The last one to come through the system was David Wright in 2004. That’s ten years ago.

Jimmy:

4bc1098eec0a5_156865nI remember first taking real notice of David Wright when he, too, was in high-A ball. I was very impressed by his BB:K ratio. in 2003, at age 20, David walked 72 times and K’d 98. In addition to 15 HRs, he banged out 39 doubles and 2 triples. You can’t fake those kinds of numbers.

Nimmo was plagued with a misdiagnosed wrist injury last season. In Savannah, a tough hitter’s league, he walked 71 times but struck out 131. This season, he’s at 24:20, and that’s very encouraging.

I’ve said this elsewhere, but the most salient aspect about Brandon Nimmo — besides the fact that he now stands as the signature draft pick of the Alderson/DePodesta brain trust — is that Brandon seems to do naturally what Alderson most values in a hitter. He has the approach that the Mets want to see across the organization. Nimmo has a great eye, takes a lot of pitches, works walks, and is highly selective. This wasn’t a skill that they taught; it was a talent that he demonstrated before signing with the Mets. I’m saying, he represented exactly the type of player they were looking for.

An Allan Dykstra type hitter.

I wrote this about Dykstra back in September, “Walk This Way: Where Math Meets Old School, and Allan Dykstra Becomes a Test Case“:

I read with great interest Sandy Alderson’s comments about Mets prospect Allan Dykstra, who mashed at Binghamton this past season to the tune of .274/.436/.503. Those are extraordinary numbers — the walk rate is astounding — and it earned him league MVP honors.  The most notable downside is his age, 26, and that this was his 3rd year in the league. Plus there are serious questions about his ability to field and run.

Perhaps Sandy Alderson just wanted to show his support for a player he’s grown attached to, perhaps he wants Dykstra to sign with the team again this winter, but it sounds to me like Allan Dykstra embodies the qualities that the Mets GM most admires.

He takes and rakes.

Former first round pick Allan Dykstra, from Sandy's days with the Padres.

Former first round pick Allan Dykstra, from Sandy’s days with the Padres.

I therefore submit Allan Dykstra as a test case in this noble experiment.

Here’s Alderson:

“He has had a great season, and he has approached the game, offensively, the way the organization hopes to approach the game at the major-league level.”

Yes, that word again, approach. I don’t believe there’s a GM in baseball who talks about hitting as much as Sandy Alderson. He definitely has a strong point of view.

Brandon Nimmo is Sandy Alderson’s next great hope, if you will.

Mike:

Certainly it’s not surprising that Nimmo works counts and is selective. We know this is being taught throughout the system, it would only make sense that it is also being scouted. No one player makes or breaks a philosophy, but Nimmo offers an early glimpse of the prototypical Alderson-era player. It’s another reason his success or failure is noteworthy, more so than the average number one pick.

Originally Brandon was brought along slowly as he was a more raw prospect than many draftees. There wasn’t even a baseball team at his high school in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Jimmy:

I’m glad you brought that up. Times have changed in a big way. A lot was made of the fact that Nimmo’s high school didn’t have a baseball team. That never bothered me. We’ve seen high school sports, teams coached by the science teacher who needs the extra bucks to keep his old Chevy on the road. The real talent has moved on to AAU and similar leagues. High school teams are in many cases (but not all), a couple of steps down from travel-type organizations, where they pull players from different areas. My daughter, only in 7th grade, played on an AAU hoops team last year that took girls from a 25-mile radius. There were 6th-grade girls in the front court who lived 50 miles apart. Meanwhile, the school basketball coaches are happy subbing in five at a time, playing lazy zones, and hoping for the best. The real sports education is happening elsewhere.

Mike:

My experience with high school AAU ball was guys who rolled out the balls at tournaments, and if they lost, immediately started sweet-talking kids on the winning team to change sides. And street agents, looking to make a buck off the real high-level kids. The difference to me between high school and travel was the high schools had poor coaches, the AAU teams, in effect, coach themselves. And, as you said, that the competition is much higher in travel ball. The real pro scouting goes on there now.

When it comes to Nimmo, perhaps the Mets even preferred the fact that he had less prior instruction. They seem to want to mold their own clay in a distinct image. I’ve wondered if this is one of the reasons we are so inactive in the Cuban market. Those players arrive fully developed.

Jimmy:

And famously aggressive at the plate.

Mike:

Now in his fourth year in the Mets organization, at 21 years old, Nimmo is still not old for A-ball. However,  the true stars move quickly, and with this much time in the professional ranks Nimmo can no longer be considered raw. If Nimmo keeps producing I would like to see him in Binghamton by Memorial Day. Preparing him for a mid-June 2015 debut in New York is not unreasonable.

Jimmy:

No, but it’s optimistic and a little out-of-character for this group. Hopefully Nimmo gets moved up to Binghamton by the All-Star Break, continues to rake, and forces a decision. I doubt there’s a fan in NY who wants Nimmo to succeed more than Sandy Alderson and his minions.

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9 comments

  1. It’s funny, when we wrote our exchange about Jose Fernandez, I didn’t realize there was a little Twitter slap-fight over it (refuse to call these things “wars”). I guess John Harper made a comment about Fernandez and a few Mets’ faithful got upset, finding it disloyal or unfair or some such silliness. Oh please. The fact is that Nimmo and Fernandez went one after the other in the draft, to rival teams in the same division; these two players will be linked throughout their careers. The Mets aren’t the only team that passed on Jose Fernandez, and maybe that makes it less painful. A solid career by Nimmo would take much of the sting out of it. But wow, Fernandez is sensational.

  2. Patrick Boegel says:

    One thing stands out to me in regards to Nimmo and the Mets philosophy assuming that wasn’t crafted in a board room at CitiField six days prior to trading Ike Davis…

    He probably already had a very good sense of pitch selection and recognition that is only getting better with more time against better pitching each step of the way.

    That and everyone else they have drafted is not so much in the same boat by any stretch.

    Cecchini has 42 walks in 530 plate appearances in pro ball, Nimmo might walk that much this season by next Saturday.

  3. Eraff says:

    Nimmo has shown selection since day 1….with some pop. A few too many “contact issues”/strikeouts.

    Grayson Stadium in Savannah has a well earned reputation as a power sucker—that’s the Class A staring Point. Step 2 is St. Lucie in the Florida State League, A+…. the recap/feedback is that the Pitchers are ahead of the hitters—it’s a SUB 700 OPS LEAGUE—that’s all hitters in The FSL. The Reputations and Psyche of Mets Offensive players are tested early by the Ballpark at Savannah and the Florida State league at the next level.

    The next gradation is Binghamton…AA… this is frankly the first real feedback you get with “real prospects versus real prospects” at a level that is truly getting close to big League.

    Unfortunately, the next stop is “The Fun House” in Vegas, AAA… I’m not sure that anyone can ever reconcile Pitching or Hitting results in Vegas.

    All this to say that Nimmo’s next step to Bingo will be THE major indicator. An increased contact rate with expanding power over a couple of hundred ab’s would be incredibly encouraging.

  4. The Fabulous Aaron Gleeman on Mike Pelfrey:

    >> On a related note, dropping Mike Pelfrey from the rotation would be an easy call except for the fact that the Twins re-signed him to a two-year, $11 million contract four months ago. It made little sense then and looks even worse now that Pelfrey has a 7.32 ERA with nearly twice as many walks (15) as strikeouts (8) through four starts. He’s now 5-15 with a 5.43 ERA in 33 total starts for the Twins, who got a long look at him in 2013 and decided they needed to see a lot more. <<

  5. One more link, early numbers suggest that the Minnesota Twins are scoring runs by not swinging.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-twins-new-plan-dont-swing/

    • I enjoy DCs writing. I think he buried at least part of the story though there, that being teams will adjust it is not an automatic, which is so key in the just be patient and drive up pitch counts mantra.

      I’d wonder exactly what teams they have faced as well. So quick glance, they faced the 11, 14, 15 in terms of walks allowed in the AL, but also 1, 3, 5

      When they faced the A’s in particular, Scott Kazmir walked 4 of the 7 he has walked all year in that one start.

      Speaking of Kazmir, a guy the Mets could have afforded this off season…

  6. Eraff says:

    I think there should be some caution and awareness about cause and effect as it applies to Selectivity of great hitters and their results, including high On Base Percentage.

    The starting point with “hunting strikes”, when OVERDONE, is that the hitter is driving up the pitch count. A large portion of the reality of the best hitters is that Pitchers are AFRAID to throw strikes to them. Great Hitters do two things that lesser hitters do not/cannot do:

    1. They have tremendous pitch recognition
    2. They make Great Contact and they make it more often

    Barry Saw 2-4 Hit-able pitches a night….and he could optimize. His OBP was Driven by the Pitcher’s Reaction to his Hitting!… it wasn’t driven by a desire to drive pitch counts.

    The convergence of this is to take guys who are not hall of fame talents and optimize results—- situational hitting and better pitch recognition are the real drivers. …and OBVIOUSLY… if I have recognition of the situation, I’m not swinging at lousy pitches.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      By 2000 Bonds was also granted the smallest strike zone humanly imaginable. You basically had to throw the ball into a big gulp cup centered on homeplate or it was a ball.

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