For all the talk about Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, there’s another Mets youngster who is trying to make an impression over the season’s final month-plus.
Since last week’s trade of Curtis Granderson, former first-round pick Brandon Nimmo has been starting against righthanders, something that should continue for the lefty-swinging 24-year-old until the Mets go home on Oct. 1.
On Wednesday night, Nimmo hit leadoff and reached base in all four plate appearances with a double and three walks in the Mets’ 4-2 victory over the Diamondbacks at Citi Field.
Michael Conforto, who missed a game with a sore thumb, had two hits and two RBIs and Chris Flexen (3-2) allowed two runs in six innings as the Mets snapped a three-game losing streak. Smith hit his third home run, a solo shot in the sixth.
Nimmo led off the first with a double to the left-centerfield wall and scored the Mets’ first run. As is his custom, he sprinted to first after each of his walks.
Nimmo is batting .280 and is a career .279 hitter in the majors in 65 games over the last two years.
Nimmo was seen as a reach when he became the first draft pick of the Sandy Alderson regime in 2011 with the 13th overall pick. Nimmo grew up in Wyoming, where there was no high school baseball, and has fallen off the top-prospect lists after peaking at No. 45 on Baseball America’s rankings in 2014.
“For me, I’d describe myself as a grinder,” Nimmo said. “Someone who’s not going to give an at-bat away. I’m going to give you my best effort every day.”
The Mets will have an opening in the outfield next season. If Nimmo shows he can hit during this season’s final act, he could go into 2018 with a chance to platoon in center with Juan Lagares.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Nimmo said. “One that I’ve been looking forward to. Now it’s here and I’m just trying to put in as much preparation as I can for every start, for every opportunity, getting what’s looking like at least an at-bat a day. That’s awesome.”
Nimmo hit only .227 at Triple-A Las Vegas before his most recent callup on July 28. He has also battled injuries during his minor-league career, which began as an 18-year-old in 2011.
Nimmo has excelled as a pinch hitter in the majors, with 11 hits in 26 at-bats (.423). But he’s hoping for more.
“I did happen to be successful in that role, but this one I’ve been looking forward to very much,” Nimmo said. “Just trying to prepare so I can take advantage of it the best I can.”
The Mets don’t know if Nimmo will develop enough power to be a regular. His career high in homers is 12, including his only longball in the majors, in 2016.
“I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a big power guy,” manager Terry Collins said. “His bat’s pretty flat coming through the strike zone. He’s not a big launch angle kind of guy. I think he’s going to hit. I think he’s going to hit lefties. One thing about his swing — there’s not a lot of moving parts to it. Pretty calm.
“Whether or not he’s going to be the everyday guy, what he’s going to hit, I think time will tell. This kid’s come a long way from a guy who hasn’t played a lot of baseball growing up. He loves to play and he loves to be out there and he works very, very hard when he’s out on the field. As hard as he works, he’s going to get better and better.”