Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (NR): I thought maybe I had missed something when seeing the other rankings of Nieto so I went back and did further investigation. At 19, he was young for his assignment to the Midwest League and even more so when promoted to the Florida State League. He held his own with a 7.93 K/9 rate at the Quad Cities and rate of 7.22 at Palm Beach while posting a BB/9 rate of 2.32 and 2.41, respectively.
Even so, I still am not sold. I know that he brings a mature approach to the mound and shows polish beyond his years. I am just not sold on his arsenal. His change up appears to have the makings of a plus pitch but the rest of his pitches are average at best. I would be glad to admit that I was wrong but I need to see him have more success at higher levels before I change my mind.
Message board community (22): I have never been a big fan of Nieto's but in reviewing his stats for this write up, I became more impressed with the 20-year-old right hander. His consistency from level to level has been remarkable.
With Nieto, it seems safe to say you are going to get a pitcher that strikes out about 20% of the batters he faces, walks only about 6%, and produces a ground ball rate near 50%. More importantly, he is only going to give up a home run once about every 18 AB's. That level of performance will seldom result in a star pitcher but it could translate into a #3 starter if he can continue it as he rises through the ranks.
I think it is also possible that Nieto improves as he advances. He was nearly 18 when signed to play professionally and has been young for his league the last two years. That should continue into 2010 as Nieto should start the year as a 20-year-old at High A-level Palm Beach (where he finished 2009). - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (21): Here we are over a dozen players into our 2010 countdown and this is just the fourth repeater from last year. The others are Scott Gorgen (#36), Niko Vasquez (#34) and Fernando Salas (#28). Even more importantly, Nieto is the first to actually move up from 2009.
The slight-of-build Panamanian was highly-touted coming into 2009 and was eventually challenged by a promotion to the Florida State League. While he did not set the circuit ablaze, Nieto pitched credibly. Prior to the season, he represented his country in the World Baseball Classic.
I especially like Nieto's strikeout-to-walk ratio and his ground ball propensity. Like so many others, he lacks the "blow them away" fastball, reportedly around 90 MPH and banks on his change up. At his age, Nieto still has room to grow physically as well as in terms of mound results. My ranking reflects that upside.
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