Before getting into Brandon Nimmo's performance against Lakewood, let me preface by saying he went 4-for-4, with a triple and a walk in the game I didn't see. I heard the triple was a nice line drive the other way off the left-center field wall. It's also important to note that Nimmo is hitting .414 on the year.
But in the games I saw, he wasn't overly impressive. He has the looks of a toolsy player, showing good speed on the bases, excellent range in the outfield and for the most part, he was patient at the plate.
Nimmo went 1-for-10 in the three games I watched, walking four times and striking out four times. The one hit was a well-struck line drive triple into the right-center field gap. The five outs that weren't strikeouts, were not hit hard. One left the infield, a lazy fly ball to left field. The other four were soft ground balls, one to the pitcher.
With four ground balls and four walks, plus the triple, I saw Nimmo run a few times. If you see his stats, three career steals (including one on Sunday) in nine attempts, you would assume he wasn't fast, but he certainly showed good speed in this series. He seems to be slightly above average, and the stolen base rate and lack of steals overall, can be explained by the lack of experience he has coming from Wyoming and out of high school just two years ago. I would expect the stolen bases to increase as he progresses. [Ed. Note: Nimmo also lost weight this off-season to improve his footwork in the outfield, and his speed on the basepath]
In the outfield, he made plays in each direction and showed good range. He made a spectacular diving catch on a sinking liner hit at him. It was the best defensive play of the series between both teams. He also got back quickly on a deep fly ball directly over his head. Nimmo ran down some hits that looked liked they could roll to the wall, but he cut them off and held the runners to singles or doubles, when they looked destined to be doubles or triples. His arm might be a problem for him. On a grounder up the middle with a man on second, he charged the ball and made an off-target throw that was not strong and didn't reach the catcher, who stopped it slightly up the third base line. He also made a throw to second that also wasn't strong or accurate. On another chance to throw home, with a slow runner going home from second base on a soft liner hit to Nimmo's right, he caught then ball on one hop and didn't attempt a throw.
Overall, the hitting I saw left something to be desired. He had plenty of swing and misses and soft contact, but he has been great the rest of the season. He should be a good hitter, who eventually adds some power as he fills out and also gains experience. The tools are there, he has some plate patience, the ability to drive the ball and the speed to beat out some hits. His running and overall defense won't hurt either. You can see the makings of a decent prospect, who just needs time to develop. Nimmo just turned 20-years-old this March, so youth is on his side.
Larry Greene Jr
On Thursday night, Larry Greene Jr made his debut in full-season ball. The 39th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he played last season in the New York Penn League for Williamsport. Greene hit .272 in 70 games, with 22 doubles, two homers and a .754 OPS. Including his four games with Lakewood, the 20-year-old from Nashville, Ga has played every single game of his pro career in left field.
Greene has had conditioning problems throughout his career and it could be something he is continuously battling. He is listed at 6'0" 235 pounds, though he looks a tad bit heavier, with a very stocky build. Greene went 2-for-14 in the four game series against Savannah, walking three times and striking out in seven of those AB's. In the one game I didn't see, he walked twice and struck out twice.
Greene has the swing of a pull hitter from the left side. It looked like he tried to pull everything and every swing he took was big. The problem was that every swing he took was late. He didn't pull one ball in any of the three games, not even a foul ball. His two hits were both opposite field, but as I mentioned, that was unintentional, so there was a bit of luck on his part with each of his hits. I mentioned to colleagues that his swing is reminiscent of Prince Fielder, and two of them agreed. In batting practice he crushed a long homer, but once the game sped up, he was behind. He showed some patience at the plate, working the count, though some of that could be explained by a lot of swing and misses, or balls fouled into the third base side stands.
His running is what you would expect from a big man. Greene is limited to corner outfield, or possibly first base in the future and it is doubtful he will ever be more than average in the outfield, so his bat must carry him. He had some trouble with a line drive that landed right in front of him, which drew some boos from the crowd, who thought he should have caught it. The couple throws he made seemed accurate, but average at best. He tried two steals in the series and was caught both times, the first time rather easy. The second time, on a hard pitch to handle and a left-handed batter to throw over, Kevin Plawecki was still able to throw him out.
It was a disappointing debut from Greene, who gets a bit of a pass due to it being his first series of the season. He needs to increase his bat speed, or any hard thrower will eat him alive.
This wasn't the first time I've seen Quinn play this year, so I have a little better idea on him than the others. I really like the way the 20-year-old shortstop plays. He was the 2nd round pick of the Phillies in the same draft they took Greene, but the 5'10" Quinn is definitely ahead of his teammate.
The good points with Quinn are numerous and they're the skills Phillies fans can dream on. He isn't a perfect player, not someone who will skip any levels on his way to Philadelphia, but if he continues to improve, he'll be worth the wait.
Quinn's best assets are his two plus tool, his speed and his arm. In a prior game, he hit an inside-the-park homer, and didn't draw a throw from the cutoff man because Quinn had already crossed the plate. The ball was a gap shot that simply split the center fielder and right fielder, rolling to the fence where it stopped.
In this series, Quinn hit a home run, though there was likely a little help from a brisk wind. The left-handed hitting Quinn, likes to bunt, or at least show bunt each AB to draw the infielders in at the corners. That is something that's been very common with lead-off hitters in Lakewood over the years. He has a low success rate with getting down bunts in games I've seen him.
He likes to work the count, something I've seen in almost every AB in which he didn't get the bunt down on the first pitch. Quinn fouls off a lot of pitches and has drawn some walks just by working the count with two strikes. He hasn't looked bad on any pitches yet.
In the field, Quinn needs work. He has all the skills to be a shortstop in the majors and at the pace he should move up the minor league ladder, I see no reason he won't stay there. His range is excellent and his arm, while not always accurate, is very strong. In Sunday's game, he had a backhand stop in the hole and made a nice long accurate throw from the lip of the outfield grass. In the first game I saw him play this year, he made a tougher play from the same spot. On a grounder up the middle in an earlier game, he got in front of a ball that I thought was a sure hit and made the play. At best, off the bat, it looked like he may have been able to knock the ball down with a dive. He also made a play where a hard grounder ate him up, but he committed and didn't rush the throw, recording the out.
So the range is good both ways, the arm is very good and he gets rid of the ball quick, therefore the problems with throwing should be rectified with repetition. The plate patience is there at a young age, he has a little pop, but will never hit many homers. There are signs that he will be able to put up a strong on base percentage that will play well at the top of the order. He had the speed to steal plenty of bases and has shown good base running skills.
The Phillies took Watson 40th overall in last year's draft and let him pitch briefly in the Gulf Coast League, allowing him to go seven innings over five outings. He has a nice four-pitch mix, showing an above average curveball and the ability to throw it for strikes. He took the mound in the final game of the series.
Watson was throwing in the 88-91 MPH range, twice hitting 92 on the radar. Interestingly enough, both of those 92's came against Brandon Nimmo in different plate appearances. The curve was coming in at 75 MPH and had a huge break that fooled batters, keeping them off-balance, while mixing in a low 80's change-up. Watson worked Nimmo carefully, but against the rest of the lineup he attacked the batters. He gave up just one hit, a solid single up the middle by Jayce Boyd. He walked three batters on the day, two of them were to Nimmo in their only two meetings of the game. Watson struck out two batters.
BlueClaws manager Mickey Morandini hooked Watson after the fifth inning, despite his throwing only 10-12 pitches in the 4th and 5th innings combined. Watson had to work a little in the 1st and 3rd, but his total pitch count seemed low at the time. The weather was cold, so it's possible that contributed to Morandini's decision. This start wasn't typical for Watson this season. He has been inducing a healthy number of ground balls and getting more strikeouts as well, but he held the Sand Gnats to just one hit and really, just one hard hit ball, so you take that effort any day. Overall, a strong outing from the 19-year-old righty.