Top 50 Prospects: #32 - Ben Nieto

The Giants had a lot of intriguing pitchers at the half-season leagues, but one name put up the most eye popping ERA down there, and it's a name that wasn't called until late into the 2nd day of the 2005 draft.

#32 - Ben Nieto
Date of Birth: 04/04/1984 Position: P Height: 5'11" Weight: 225 Bats: L Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 38th Round (#1152 Overall) of the 2005 Draft
2005 Stats
AZL Giants - R 2 2 1.26 8 3 0 28.2 22 8 4 1 6 38 .200 2.20
Salem-Keizer - Short A 3 0 1.05 5 5 0 25.7 21 4 3 1 7 23 .223 1.65

The Rookie league Giants and S-K Volcanoes had a number of starters put up very good years, but no starter had better numbers than Ben Nieto.

Nieto came out of community college with three solid pitches: a fastball in the low 90’s, a curveball and a change-up that he developed in 2004. For a 38th round pick, he came out pretty well. He went to the Arizona League to start his pro career, but the 21 year old quickly proved that he was above that level. So Nieto was moved up to S-K and made 5 starts for the Volcanoes, and dominated the Northwest League.

As a left hander, the lack of a fastball isn’t overly concerning. If Nieto can grow a little into his fastball and keep it in the 90’s as he advances, he should do fine. He probably will not be the strikeout pitcher that he hinted at in the rookie leagues, but his control, even at the end of last season, show’s that he’s not likely to hurt himself with walks on the other end. He also showed an ability to get the ground ball consistently.

As nice as the stats look, less than 30 innings at rookie ball and in short season ball are not enough to get overly excited about…yet. Don’t expect Nieto to get pushed quickly. However, the room is there for a good career, perhaps as a back of the rotation starter, or at least one of those ever-valuable lefty relievers. An interesting possibility is to see what happens to Nieto when San Jose pitching coach Trevor Wilson gets his hands on Nieto. Nieto’s got the makeup and the tools to take advantage of Wilson’s specialty, a cut fastball. That pitch has helped turned around the prospects of Brian Burres and Joe Bateman, and it might do wonders for an already good looking kid like Nieto.

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