Mets’ Brandon Nimmo proving he belongs

Mets’ Brandon Nimmo proving he belongs
By Zach Gewelb

Brandon Nimmo is making a name for himself this spring.

The young lefty outfielder is vying for a spot on the big-league roster and has impressed the first two weeks of Spring Training. With 2017 breakout star Michael Conforto set to start the season on the disabled list, Nimmo has a chance to steal a starting spot — or, at the very least, serve in a center field platoon — to begin the 2018 season.

Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce are penciled in as the every day starters in left and right field, respectively. Nimmo’s main competition for playing time in center field is the oft-injured Juan Lagares. While Lagares has floundered this spring, Nimmo has shone.

The 24-year-old slugger — he turns 25 on March 27 — has recorded seven hits in his first 21 spring at-bats, including two home runs and four extra-base hits. His performance has caught the eye of manager Mickey Callaway, who has liked what he’s seen from Nimmo thus far.

“He’s a patient hitter,” Callaway said. “He’s always been that. But now it looks like he’s attacking that pitch when he gets it, too. Pitchers know he’s gonna be patient and if they groove one, now he’s gonna attack it. It becomes a dangerous combination.”

Nimmo’s success should not come as a surprise. He has the pedigree — he was the Mets’ first round pick in the 2011 draft — and the minor league success — he owns a .280/.387/.418 career batting line in the minors. Nimmo also performed well in his first real taste of big league action last season, when he hit .260 with five home runs and 21 RBI and posted a .379 on-base percentage in 69 games with the Mets.

Those numbers, coupled with his minor league success and strong start in Spring Training, should be enough for Nimmo to earn a spot on the opening day roster. In fact, one can argue he may be the Mets’ best option to serve as the club’s lead-off hitter in April.

Nimmo has a good eye at the plate and has shown a knack for getting on base. He would effectively set the table for the middle of the Amazins’ order, giving Cespedes, Bruce and Todd Frazier more RBI opportunities.

This is Nimmo’s best chance to make a name for himself at the big league level. Conforto is expected back in late April or early May, giving Nimmo a small window to prove he belongs. He’s seized the opportunity to this point.

Spring Training Notes

Has the Dark Knight returned? Matt Harvey has looked impressive throughout Spring Training, most recently tossing three shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers Monday afternoon.

Harvey allowed two hits and walked one batter while recording one strike out. He may not be the same dominant pitcher he once was, but the Mets have to be happy to see that Harvey has shown signs of improvement.

A healthy and effective Harvey would go a long way in helping the Mets return to the postseason. He would give the team a quality arm in the back of the rotation and someone with World Series experience.

Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewelb@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4539.