MLB Prospect Outlook: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, New York Mets
Where were you on June 5, 2008?
That was first day of the 2008 MLB draft.
The Mets had a few good picks that day, drafting first baseman Ike Davis out of Arizona State, infielder Reese Havens out of South Carolina, infielder Josh Satin out of California and an outfielder by the name of Kirk Nieuwenhuis out of a little known NAIA school called Azusa Pacific University.
We all know how Davis turned out, got our first glimpse of Satin back in September and are still waiting for Havens to overcome the injury bug and make his big league debut.
But, what is the big deal with Nieuwenhuis?
Nieuwenhuis, for the past two seasons, has ascended on the team's top prospect list.
In 2010, he was ranked eleventh by the organization, but brought his stock up enough to go from AA Binghamton to AAA Buffalo.
Before, he had gone from Short-A Brooklyn to Binghamton in just two seasons. This was all thanks to his hitting ability. Each year, he consistently hit in the contact hitter's range, or to be more precise, the .270-.280 mark.
To put a little more perspective on the 2010 season, Nieuwenhuis had possibly the best offensive output in Binghamton, hitting for a career-high .289, knocking in 16 home runs and 60 RBIs.
His output earned him a promotion to Buffalo by the end of the year, where he started to adjust to better pitching.
When Will Captain Kirk be a New York Met?
Nieuwenhuis was rewarded for his torrid campaign by jumping into the top ten Mets prospect list in 2011, as well as earning a Spring Training invite. He was on pace to join the big league club in September, but surgery to repair a shoulder injury prevented him from coming up.
The question is, does he have a chance to recapture his form in 2012?
Apparently Minor League Ball believes so. Having ascended four spots from last year, its obvious that the Mets have faith in him and hope he'll either crack the Opening Day roster, or be promoted early.
Given the success of the Mets last outfield prospect, Lucas Duda—who has developed into somewhat of a power hitter, albeit with some defensive quirks—it would be nice to see Nieuwenhuis provide the contact that we have desired from Jason Bay since he signed a four year, $66 million deal, as well as the glove we need.
If he does make the club, I predict he'll hit .270 with 5-10 home runs and 50 or more RBI's.
He won't win Rookie of the Year, but he'll earn some consideration.
The one thing I am definitely looking forward to seeing in 2012 is Nieuwenhuis' debut, not only because of his potential, but also his potential fan base.
Fans of Kirk Nieuwenhuis have already given him the nickname of Captain Kirk, of Star Trek fame.
Chances are, his fan base will dress in Star Trek uniforms and call themselves the Enterprise.
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