Mets prospect Brandon Nimmo adjusts in first full season of pro ball

Mets minor league prospect Brandon Nimmo runs after

Mets minor league prospect Brandon Nimmo runs after hitting a pitch during the ninth inning of an exhibition game against Venezuela. (March 6, 2013) (Credit: AP)

CASPER, Wyo. -- Brandon Nimmo didn't go as far to say "I told you so."

But the Savannah Sand Gnats center fielder wasn't shocked when a recent slump invaded his red-hot start.

"I knew this was going to happen," Nimmo said with a laugh. "So I'm not too surprised."

A gangbusters start to his first full season of professional baseball saw the 6-foot-3 Nimmo take the South Atlantic League lead in batting (.424 average) through the first three weeks of the season. But since then, Nimmo has struggled -- one hit in his last 24 at-bats, with just two walks.

But the Cheyenne product knows that's just baseball.

"You have to stay even-keeled all the way through the good and through the bad," Nimmo said.

While Nimmo has hit a funk, there have been some nifty highs to open the season. In an April 15 victory against Greensboro (N.C.), Nimmo was 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs. Even with the slump, he's batting .322 for the Sand Gnats, with 11 RBIs and 12 walks (to 24 strike outs). Nimmo's batting average and on-base percentage (.421) are still good for top-10 in the South Atlantic League.

After the former Post 6 standout was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round (13th overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Nimmo played 10 professional games that summer. Last year, he went through extended spring training and played 69 games with the Mets short-season rookie league team (Brooklyn Cyclones).

Nimmo entered spring training with the goal of making a full-season team, mostly because he enjoys the day-in, day-out competition and team atmosphere -- "It's a lot more fun to play games that matter," he said -- but also to experience the rigors of a full season (like 18-hour bus trips, for example).

"The next day, your body is a little groggy," Nimmo tells the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/15rwgRV ) of the adjustment to the long bus rides. "Your back's a little stiff, when you get bus you kind of feel like you've never walked before.

"It takes a little bit to get used to."

Savannah manager Luis Rojas saw Nimmo right from start -- Rojas was the manager of the Gulf Coast (Fla.) Mets, where Nimmo played for seven games after signing in 2011. But Rojas said he's seen the development Nimmo has made in last two years; his plate discipline has been strong, and his pregame to in-game approach has also been impressive.

Rojas said Nimmo is just "going through a time."

"We want him to go through this," Rojas said. "This is part of his development, and this is the part where he's going to ... figure out a lot more things."

Savannah had an off day Tuesday, but Nimmo sat on Wednesday and Thursday due to soreness in his hand (Rojas said it was preventative and nothing serious and also unrelated to the slump). Nimmo was scheduled to be back in the lineup on Friday, but the game against Kannapolis, N.C., was suspended after three innings due to rain. Savannah played at Hickory (N.C.) on Saturday.

Still, Rojas said they'll talk with Nimmo every day, just to get an idea of where he's at. And that's been one of the more impressive things about Nimmo, Rojas said. Nimmo knows what's he going through is part of the process and has stayed disciplined. Rojas said that mental approach is special for a player his age (20 years), and Nimmo has earned respect in the clubhouse for the way he handles himself.

"That's Brandon right there. Always a smile on his face ... happy to be playing baseball," Rojas said. "He's going to be giving his best every day."

Through all the highs and all the lows.

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