Ownership controversy, unwise free agent signings, and a weak farm system have all been emblematic of the recent struggles of the New York Mets. Playing in the largest market in America, the Mets have been stuck in a rut of mediocrity, unable to match the success and popularity of the cross-town Yankees. Sometimes it takes just one player to turn around the fortunes of a team, and the Mets are hoping that prospect Brandon Nimmo will be such a catalyst.
Nimmo is an outfielder from Cheyenne, Wyoming, who was the Mets’ first round draft pick (13th overall selection) in 2011. He grew up loving rodeo but also was drawn to baseball because of his father and the batting cage he built in a barn on the family’s property. Because Wyoming is one of three states (Montana and South Dakota are the others) without high school baseball, Nimmo was only able to play ball through his local American Legion team. A gifted athlete, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing youngster was dominant on the diamond. In 2010 he played in 70 Legion games, hitting .448 with 15 home runs and 34 steals in 70 games. He was snapped up by the Mets the following year’s draft, making him the highest drafted player in the history of Wyoming.
After a taste of professional ball last year, Nimmo has played this season with the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn League, hitting .260 with 5 home runs, 37 RBI, and 44 walks in 63 games. More information on his statistics can be found at http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=nimmo-000bra.
Nimmo recently chatted with me prior to one of his games. His friendly, easy-going demeanor only makes you want to see him succeed more. Check out what he had to tell me and then give him a follow on Twitter if you want to keep tabs on this exciting prospect.
Brandon Nimmo Interview:
How did you first become interested in baseball?: It’s been in my family. Ever since I can remember I have been holding a bat, and I’ve have had a bat in my hands, or a glove, or a baseball. My older brother player and my dad loved the game, so it’s just been instilled in me since I was young.
Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up?: My brother’s favorite player was Ken Griffey, Jr., so I always looked up to him. Obviously he was a great player, so a lot of people did. As I got older, in high school, I really liked the way that Troy Tulowitzki played the game. He was very passionate and played the game real hard, and I really appreciated that. That was a guy that I idoled.
Were you to going to college instead of starting your career?: Oh yeah! It’s a decision that is going to alter your life. The decision between college and pro ball is a very tough one and one that has to be weighed both ways throughout a long period of time. There were times where you would think you’re going to college and then there are times you think you’re going pro. At the end you make the best informed decision that you can. This has always been a dream of mine and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Could you talk a little bit about your draft experience?: Yeah, on draft day I just had a little get-together with my family. My immediate family and one of my best friends came over and we had some pizza and some wings. We were just getting ready to sit down to see if anything would happen. You go into the draft being told not to expect anything, as you should, and just to let it play out.
The first that we knew of it was what was on the tv. My brother was on Skype and his tv must have been a little bit faster because we heard him kind of yell right at the beginning and then we saw my name flash on our tv. You know, it’s a dream come true; it’s a feeling you never forget. It’s like winning the biggest game of your life; something that you work for for a long time. To actually see it through and make it happen is a blessing you can’t understand until you go through it. It was a great day, and then a lot of interviews afterwards, and tiring, but it was a day I’ll never forget.
What has been the most difficult on-field component of the professional game to get used to?: It’s just the speed of the game is a lot faster. Obviously everyone is talented here. There’s not one slouch on the baseball field, so you really have to work for everything that you do.
And then I’d say that dealing with the failure of the game with your mental ability. Mental toughness is something that really gets tested in professional ball. You play every day and can’t meditate on things for too long. You have to just put them in the past, whether they’re good or bad, and that’s something that’s learned with experience. That’s the biggest thing, getting a lot of experience.
What is the scrutiny like for you, having been a top draft pick for a New York team?: It’s huge. The media and the eyes on you are always there. And so if you let it get to you it can definitely weigh you down and put pressure on you. But you have to learn how to deal with that and make it into something good because it can be a great attribute to have to play baseball in New York and have all that media around you. You just have to try and make it work for you rather than against you, and learn how to do that. There’s no better place if you’re going to succeed at playing baseball than in New York. Just try and have fun with it and stay mentally tough.
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