Results tagged ‘ Brandon Nimmo ’
Last week, I wrote a feature that focused on Courtney Hawkins, Brandon Nimmo and Trevor Bauer and how, in different ways, they were all bouncing back from either up-and-down or subpar seasons in 2013 to have solid-to-outstanding 2014 campaigns to date.
As is often the case, I had way too much information from the conversations I had with players and farm directors. Rather than send them into the vitrual trashbin, never to be seen again, I figured I’d post them here for your perusal. Some of it was used partially, but most of it didn’t make it into the final version of the story.
“The numbers weren’t horrible, but they weren’t where I’d like them to be. This year, one of the biggest things was in the offseason, I got to some warmer weather sooner. I was little more focused on bringing the baseball aspect of it into my workouts instead of just focusing on strength and speed. Going to IMG for seven weeks really helped. We worked on everything from mental to vision to strength and speed and flexibility. We also would go on the field and work on the swing, get out there, hit with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starlin Castro. To hit with those kinds of guys, I really benifitted from picking their brains a little bit. I’m stronger, more control of my body, which is going to happen as I mature.”
“I put the work in this offseason, lets see the results. So far, so good. There will be some bad times, but I’m trying to be more consistent and iron out those down times more.”
“You can’t let one bad game spiral into a week or two of bad games. Or maybe you had a good game, or got some cheap hits, you need to realize that’s not what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to hit the ball on the barrel all the time. You’re picking up small things that might help you not fall into those long droughts. When you’re in the droughts, you try to [remind yourself] it takes a little bit of time. Maybe you created a bad habit and it’s not going to take one swing to get out of it. [Learning to deal with success and failure are] both essential in developing for a Major League career.”
“I had my times where what I was capable of would pop out. I’d start feeling good and say, ok time to breakout. You really do have to take things pitch by pitch, day by day. If you let one at-bat get to you, you’re going to be screwed that whole game. I can tell you from personal experience.”
“I don’t worry about the media stuff this year. Last year, I’d read stuff and say, ‘I’m going to prove them wrong.’ I just go out and play ball now.”
“At instructs, I was hitting well again. It didn’t really click until this offseason. My second offseason, I knew how to go about stuff. I didn’t take much time off. I stayed in the groove and kept going at it. When I came into the hitting camp in January,they could tell the difference. I felt good in Spring Training. Toward the end of Spring Training, they lowered my hands more. Since then, I’ve been putting my bat on the ball more.”
“Last year, whenever they told me to do something, I did it. That’s why you saw so many different stances. I kept tyring to find something that was clicking. You ‘d be back to square one every time. Lowering my hands clicked fast for me. But it doesn’t always work that way. You have to work on it.”
“I was tyring to get that callup, but you can’t think that way. It’s so much easier to play when you’re not worrying about the other stuff. That first summer, I had the mentality, all I worried about was just playing ball. My whole mindset changed. Now I’m back to that, just go out and play ball and not worry about anything else.”
White Sox farm director Nick Capra (on Hawkins):
“This last year, experience of first full year of baseball, maturity has a lot to do with it, him learning he didn’t have to be in a hurry to get in the big leagues. In his mind, he thought he was on a fast track. He got ahead of himself.”
“We moved him from CF to LF this year. He’s responded tremendously. His defense has improved. He looks like an OF with a passion to [play defense].”
“There are different personalities, different kids. They have to find themselves somehow, rather than look at what other people are doing. They have to focus on what they are capable of doing and how they’re doing.”
On whether in hindsight they feel they rushed him:
“I don’t think so. When he signed, he progressed rapidly. We got him to Kannapolis and he really stood out in the SAL. We got him to the Carolina League for the playoffs and he excelled. We thought he’d settle in during his first full year and grow on the success he had before. It’s easy to look back, but no I don’t think so.”
On his progress:
“I think it was more of a gradual thing. He worked on things in instructs that he brought into Spring Training. Then we worked on other things in Spring Training. A lot of it was the mental things that figure into how you play. He’s adjusted to things rather well. You have to have confidence and it plays a big factor in how you compete. This kid had never failed before. He failed a little bit last year. Now it’s about how he responds to failure. He is definitely a more confident player last year.”
Indians farm director Ross Atkins (on Trevor Bauer):
“I can tell you I haven’t met many pitchers that are as passionate about delivery mechanics, about pitching philosophically and mechanically, as Trevor. It’s been great for us to learn with and from him about him and about pitching. He has incredible toughts about pitching.”
“Even last year, when he wasn’t at his ‘best,’ we were still extremely encouraged. His results and velocity weren’t where they were. We didn’t see him back off from trying to master his skills and craft. Obviously, this year in Spring Training, you see the spike in velocity and strikeouts, how he’s pitched this year, we’ve been extremely encouraged. Although the results have varied, we’ve never been disappointed with his commitment. I know he had a hard time with last year. He was extremely frustrated. The fact he was coming close to making such a significant adjustment to his approach and still was competing, it gave us faith he’d find that comfort level eventually.”
“With Trevor, we really have been, from the start, extremely impressed and encouraged by his process and how committed he is to being great. He’s never tried or focused on , ‘I’m going to show or prove to someone,’ it’s not about how he was traded. It’s always about how can I be great. That’s why we’ve always been so encouraged. Now that he’s having more productive results, obviously we’re encouraged by that. I can honestly say , there were never levels of discouragement. He’s always been in a very good place.”
“All pitchers have ebb and flow. He’s now higher than we’ve every seen him, consistently in the mid to high 90s. His curve, slider and changeup are all average to slightly above-average weapons. They vary which one is most effective; that makes him more interesting.”
Now the fun really begins.
Over the course of March, we will be unveiling all of our team Top 20 lists. Today, we will have three (Mondays will be stacked like that as we wanted to avoid going live with these over the weekend): The Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Miami Marlins.
Along with the Top 20s, we will have reports from Spring Training camps for each team. I’ve been running around Florida for the past week, Teddy Cahill will take the baton from me to finish off Florida and Jim Callis will handle the bulk of Arizona.
With each camp visit, I invariably ended up with way too much information, so I’m going to use this space to share some of the conversations I had with prospects and team executives.
I’m also going to include “One More Guy” — a prospect who didn’t crack the Top 20, but would likely be in the next group, say Nos. 21-25, and could be an in-season replacement when the need arises.
OK, ready for more? Here’s some more from my conversation with Brandon Nimmo:
Were you surprised you got the call to attend big league camp?
Nimmo: It came as a little bit of a surprise, but I knew I was ready for it. I was ready for this opportunity. I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get and enjoy this experience. I plan to be here a lot more often, so hopefully this isn’t the only big league Spring Training I go to and I don’t think that’s what they’re planning on, either. They’re just trying to get me around these guys and obviously, I can contribute to the team, too. I have everything I bring to the table, and I’m confident in that, but I’m very humbled to be here.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve been able to glean so far, where you can say, “Clearly, I’m not there yet.” What do you really need to work on to move yourself closer?
Nimmo: They’re very consistent in what they do. That has to do with the routine they get into to get ready for the days. They have specific things they need to do to get ready for the day. They know how to do them and do them very well. I think that’s the biggest difference between Major Leaguers and Minor Leaguers, is that consistency, an ability to perform on a consistent basis. I think that’s the biggest thing I have to improve on just from watching these guys right now.
I also spoke to catcher Anthony Recker about some of the young arms he’s been able to catch in camp. Here’s what he had to say:
Recker: I thought last year when I caught Rafael Montero, he was ready to make the next step. He looked really good. I really liked Jake DeGrom, his ability to spot up, ability to make adjustments. I’d say the same thing for Montero, his ability to make adjustments on the fly. You miss in a certain spot, or you miss up, to be able to make the adjustment and get it down with the very next pitch is really big, especially in Major League Baseball. We have several young guys who have shown the ability to do that. There are a good handful that seem ready to compete for a job, whether its now or later in the season. They look really good.
I spoke at length with Dick Scott, the farm director, and he compared to the Mets system now to a few years ago.
Scott: Before, we had Matt Harvey here, so as far as specific players, we had guys here, guys going to the big leagues and contributing. Lucas Duda was in the minor leagues, you had Harvey in the minor leagues. Now, it’s the volume, it’s Montero, it’s Syndergaard, picking those two guys up in the trade. Plus we got Buccera here as well, a 20 year old who was in the GCL who’s athletic. I thnk our sheer volume has increased. We also have guys down through the younger levels. We have Nimmo, we have Amed Rosario, Ceccchini. We feel we have a long way to go. The other part of that is you do’t know how many of these guys are going to be able to perform at the Major League level.
On the cyclical nature of farm system strength:
Scott: I think that happens in every organization at some point. There are organizations that trade Minor League players to make a run at a big league playoff and you’re going to be thin at some point. You ‘re not going to have as deep a list as maybe you had three years ago. I think ours is getting deeper. It’s a work in progress, but compared to a couple of years ago, [we’re improved].
And he had more to say about our breakout candidate, Gabriel Ynoa:
Scott: He’s a strike throwing machine. What’s amazing with him and Montero, they just pound the zone. Sometimes those guys come in and they just have it. He won a lot of games for us last year, so it’s not like nobody’s heard of him, but his stuff is improving. He has a great feel for pitching, he’s athletic, probably 93-94 mph fastball, very good feel for a changeup. He just throws strikes. He’s always in the bottom of the zone, pitches to both sides of the plate. He’s one of those guys, the people who were in the SAL league last year know about him. He’s always thrown strikes, but his stuff has just gotten tighter, his breaking ball is a little tighter, the feel on his changeup. He throws a 2 and 4 seam fastball. He has great poise.
Finally, here’s One More Guy from the Mets system:
Jack Leathersich: It’s a sign of just how much deeper this system is that this lefty didn’t make the cut. He was No. 17 at season’s end last year. A one-time starter, he’s taken well to relief work as a pro. His strikeout rates are insane (15.2 K/9 in his Minor League career), using stuff and deception to miss bats. His command is just so-so, but he should impact the big league bullpen at some point this year.