Brandon Nimmo has been swinging for the fences — ever since he actually started swinging at pitches.
The 19-year-old and first-round Mets draft pick struggled early in the season, when his greatest asset seemed to be his ability to draw walks. But now he’s on a tear, batting .372 in his last 10 games and going on a seven-game hitting streak between July 28 and Aug. 4.
Clones skipper Rich Donnelly says it’s all because the kid from Cheyenne, Wyo. has been willing to take risks at the plate.
“He’s just been more aggressive,” Donnelly said after an Aug. 2 matchup against the Connecticut Tigers in which Nimmo kept his streak alive with a single in the bottom of the eighth. “He’s swinging earlier in the counts, and not just waiting to get a walk.”
Nimmo has racked up the most bases on balls of any Cyclone — 29 for the season, compared to 22 for left fielder Stefan Sabol and shortstop Philip Evans.
But since July 26, he has only picked up two walks. Meanwhile, he has come to lead the team with 46 hits (16 of them in the past two weeks) and 28 runs (11 of them in the past two weeks).
Donnelly said he and hitting coach Bobby Malek remind the center fielder daily to step up to the plate and swing — a skill the manager said is necessary to the red-hot prospect’s future in the sport.
“He’s going to progress by hitting the ball, not by walking,” said Donnelly.
For Nimmo himself, the improvement has been more mental than physical. The ballplayer joined the Clones straight out of high school and the high expectations left him tense and mechanical at the plate — and unwilling to take chances on pitches.
Now he says he was just psyching himself out.
“The worst pressure is the pressure you put on yourself,” Nimmo said. “But lately I’ve just been relaxing, not worrying about whether I got out, just trying whenever I get up there.”
Nimmo is still working to pull himself out of the hole he dug early in the season: he’s batting just .264 on the year. But the Cyclones number nine says he isn’t letting the past bother him.
“You just try to go up there every day and get your ball when it comes. Because they don’t always come often,” Nimmo said.
Not bad for the youngest everyday player on the Mini-Mets — as Donnelly is quick to note.
“He’s playing up,” said Donnelly. “He’s a freshman playing on a varsity team. But he’s mentally mature. He makes guys like me feel embarrassed.”