GENERALLY SPEAKING, IT is a tad unusual to see a player in professional baseball who didn’t play the game in high school or college.
It’s even more unusual when that player is drafted high in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft.
Brandon Nimmo was snapped up by the New York Mets in the 2011 draft and has been brought along with all the deliberateness you would expect of a team teaching a kid to play the game. After stops at Rookie level and short-season ball, Nimmo played his first full season in 2013 in the South Atlantic League.
Nimmo batted .273 with a .397 on-base percentage in 110 games. He hit a pair of home runs, stole 10 bases and drove in 40 runs in earning All-Star honors. Over the winter, he was sent to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, with the intent of increasing his strength and bat speed.
This season in St. Lucie, the fruits of those labors are paying dividends. Nimmo entered Thursday’s games batting .384 with a 1.023 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He has already matched last season’s home run total in a league believed to tilt considerably in favor of pitching.
This past week was just more of the same. He batted .455 and missed the cycle by a triple against Charlotte on April 28.
As impressive as Nimmo’s week was, a number of FSLers had weeks chock full of superlatives, including someone who did indeed hit for the cycle. Here’s a look at who was hot and who was not around the Sunshine State:
Matt Juengel (Jupiter) – The former Texas A&M standout entered Thursday’s games riding a 10-game hitting streak. In that time, he has batted .341 but was even hotter during the past week, posting a .379 average (11 of 29) with five doubles.
Dixon Machado (Lakeland) – He may not have a 10 game hitting streak but the Venezuelan shortstop has hits in nine of his past 10 games and has decimated league pitching to the tune of a .484 mark (15 of 31) during the past week.
Michael Reed (Brevard) – This Brewers hopeful has been remarkably consistent since the start of the 2013 season, but has spiked upward significantly this past week by hitting .480 (12 of 25) with five doubles and a home run. He also had eight walks for an on-base percentage of .553 for the week. He now has 24 walks compared to 16 strikeouts on the season. His batting average stands at .282 but his on-base percentage is a whopping .457.
Jeff McVaney (Lakeland) – Nothing about this Texas State product’s career line would prepare onlookers for the week he had, perhaps the most productive week of the early season. McVaney hit .357, scored nine runs and drive in seven. He walked five times and tripled three times. Most impressively, he now has scored a run in seven consecutive games.
Matt Boyd (Dunedin) – This Blue Jays fifth-rounder continues to post quite possibly the most ridiculous pitching numbers in the minor leagues after another sterling outing. Boyd made Clearwater vanish during eight shutout innings, allowing two hits while fanning 12 and walking no one to improve to 4-0. He has allowed just one earned run this season for an earned-run average of 0.29.
Angelo Gumbs (Tampa) – It was a tale of two weeks for this Yankees prospect, who was in the “Who’s Hot” queue last week before managing just two hits in 23 at-bats this week.
Pin-Chieh Chen (Daytona) – Chen was ever-so-slightly colder than Gumbs, limping to a .083 mark (2 of 24) this past week.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Tyrone Taylor (Brevard) – One of the younger players in the league (he turned 20 in January), Taylor’s season has been largely non-descript until this week. On Sunday, Taylor went 3 of 4, then followed up a day later by hitting for the cycle as a part of a 5 of 5 day at the plate. He scored five runs and drove in three.