Mets Make Nimmo First Ever First-Rounder From Wyoming
NEW YORK—General manager Sandy Alderson
and his top lieutenants, Paul DePodesta
and J.P. Ricciardi
, have been saddled with several labels since taking the reins of the Mets, almost every one of them based on their link to the Athletics front office detailed in "Moneyball."
So as the draft approached, experts fell all over themselves sorting through the ideal candidate for the Mets at No. 13—a college player, likely a pitcher, with an emphasis on predictable skills rather than athleticism, the thinking went.
Naturally, the Mets shocked the industry by selecting prep center fielder Brandon Nimmo
from East High in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Nimmo's high school didn't even have a baseball team, so he played for an American Legion team and surfaced on the summer showcase circuit.
"We were strictly focused on the best player on the board," said DePodesta, vice president for scouting and player development. "I think we were ideally looking for a position player. This draft was certainly deep in college pitching, but we felt there were only a few potential impact bats. We felt like if we were going to get one of them, we were going to have to take them up high.
"For me personally, I went out there the day before Mother's Day—my wife said this one better be worth it. Fortunately, it was."
Nimmo committed to Arkansas, but the Mets are confident they can convince the 18-year-old to turn pro, partially because he is the first-ever first-round selection from Wyoming.
"I haven't known any difference," Nimmo said of growing up in frigid Wyoming rather than the warm-weather states most of these players emerge from. "Sometimes it feels like people are making too much of it. I know there are disadvantages to playing in Wyoming. I don't get to play year round. You barely get to play six months out of the year.
"The advantage I have over kids in these cold weather states, my dad built a barn for me to work in every day. That's how I try to stay polished and in the mix with guys from the warmer states, going out and work in the barn every day. Make the swing good. The arm strength, you can't long toss in 30 below zero. I haven't know any different. Don't know if they're making more of it. This is the path I took."
Nimmo played for Post 6 of the American Legion, where, through June 5, he was hitting 33-for-58 (.589) with 13 doubles, four triples, two homers, 34 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. He won MVP honors at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last August, and Baseball America ranked him No. 2 among draft-eligible high school players in three categories: best athlete, best pure hitter and best strike-zone judgment.
"This has really become year-long process," DePodesta said. "It's not something where we just scout guys in the spring. Fortunately, our staff here saw a lot of this guy last summer.
"We saw him this spring in Phoenix, when his team made the trip down there for a week or so in early April, and (we) got to see him almost every game he played through the course of this spring. So we've actually seen this player, seen him against some different competition, and we've always seen him do the same thing.
"I think he has an advanced feel for the strike zone. He's an effective hitter. I think he has a chance to hit for power. We feel comfortable that he's going to compete well against more consistent competition.
"We know this: he's passionate about playing . . . after the call he said he's ready to play. We'll let the negotiations play out and we're confident he will be a New York Met."