Nieuwenhuis Leading Bisons Charge

BUFFALO, NY - Kirk Nieuwenhuis obtained a lot of attention for his big season in Double-A in 2010. The outfielder ended the year with a slow stretch in Buffalo, but now Nieuwenhuis is back in Triple-A and off to a hot start, including a fresh 16-game hitting streak. How is he getting it done? Look inside to find out.

April isn't most baseball players' favorite month of the season, especially if they're playing in Upstate New York, which hasn't been a friendly environment to Mets prospects in recent seasons. It's cold and fastballs thrown hard and inside are a batter's worst nightmare.

Growing up in Colorado helped Bisons center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis adjust to playing in cold weather, but no one could have predicted how well he'd be hitting the ball early on after last seasons stint in Buffalo.

"He had a tough year up here last year but that's behind him," said Bisons manager Tim Teufel. "It's a fresh beginning and a new season, and he's ready to take on this challenge. He's a fine ballplayer."

Last season, Nieuwenhuis struggled in Buffalo after spending the majority of his year in Binghamton. He hit only .225 in 30 games with the Bisons and never seemed to get comfortable.

Nieuwenhuis had a hard time accepting the way he performed to end last season.

"It was a little bit frustrating not showing that I could hit up here last year," Nieuwenshuis said. "It did serve as a motivator this offseason. I worked a little bit harder and it's been, so far so good. I'm more focused and…more mentally prepared."

As disappointing as last season was for the 23-year-old outfielder, this season has already redeemed him in the eyes of even his most harsh critics. Teufel expected nothing less because of the talent Nieuwenhuis possesses.

"He's having a great start and that's what we were expecting out of Kirk early in the year," Teufel said. "[This season] He's made a great diving catch, he hit a game-tying home run; he's doing some things right now that Kirk Nieuwenhuis can do."

Nieuwenhuis is currently in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak and is batting .343 on the season. The streak is the longest since 2009 for any Bison and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. He's one of only two players that have played in all 17 games for the Bisons this season, and he leads the team in batting average, slugging percentage (.642), on-base percentage (.463), walks (14), hits (23), and doubles (8).

The hitting is what's been so surprising by Nieuwenhuis. In the field, he has golden glove talent and it's on display every time he takes the field. Putting everything together in the offseason has really helped develop Nieuwenhuis' confidence.

"I definitely had confidence coming into this season, working with coach's in spring training [helped me] get some things worked out, but it's still early in the season," Nieuwenhuis said. "Spring training was good because I got to work with [hitting coach] Mike Easler and got to know him for the first time. In that setting it was good."

Teufel thinks that Nieuwenhuis has figured things out and his early-season success is just the beginning of what's to come for the young ballplayer.

"He didn't want to fail up here last year," Teufel said. "He had a good [stint] in Double-A, came up here and struggled, he hit a slump at the wrong time. He's obviously out of it, he's turned a corner, and he's looking for a great year up here in the International League."

\r\n \r\n\r\nApril isn't most baseball players' favorite month of the season, especially if they're playing in Upstate New York, which hasn't been a friendly environment to Mets prospects in recent seasons. It's cold and fastballs thrown hard and inside are a batter's worst nightmare.
\r\n
\r\nGrowing up in Colorado helped Bisons center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis adjust to playing in cold weather, but no one could have predicted how well he'd be hitting the ball early on after last seasons stint in Buffalo.
\r\n
\r\n\"He had a tough year up here last year but that's behind him,\" said Bisons manager Tim Teufel. \"It's a fresh beginning and a new season, and he's ready to take on this challenge. He's a fine ballplayer.\"
\r\n
\r\nLast season, Nieuwenhuis struggled in Buffalo after spending the majority of his year in Binghamton. He hit only .225 in 30 games with the Bisons and never seemed to get comfortable.
\r\n
\r\nNieuwenhuis had a hard time accepting the way he performed to end last season.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was a little bit frustrating not showing that I could hit up here last year,\" Nieuwenshuis said. \"It did serve as a motivator this offseason. I worked a little bit harder and it's been, so far so good. I'm more focused and…more mentally prepared.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs disappointing as last season was for the 23-year-old outfielder, this season has already redeemed him in the eyes of even his most harsh critics. Teufel expected nothing less because of the talent Nieuwenhuis possesses.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's having a great start and that's what we were expecting out of Kirk early in the year,\" Teufel said. \"[This season] He's made a great diving catch, he hit a game-tying home run; he's doing some things right now that Kirk Nieuwenhuis can do.\"
\r\n
\r\nNieuwenhuis is currently in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak and is batting .343 on the season. The streak is the longest since 2009 for any Bison and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. He's one of only two players that have played in all 17 games for the Bisons this season, and he leads the team in batting average, slugging percentage (.642), on-base percentage (.463), walks (14), hits (23), and doubles (8).
\r\n
\r\nThe hitting is what's been so surprising by Nieuwenhuis. In the field, he has golden glove talent and it's on display every time he takes the field. Putting everything together in the offseason has really helped develop Nieuwenhuis' confidence.
\r\n
\r\n\"I definitely had confidence coming into this season, working with coach's in spring training [helped me] get some things worked out, but it's still early in the season,\" Nieuwenhuis said. \"Spring training was good because I got to work with [hitting coach] Mike Easler and got to know him for the first time. In that setting it was good.\"
\r\n
\r\nTeufel thinks that Nieuwenhuis has figured things out and his early-season success is just the beginning of what's to come for the young ballplayer.
\r\n
\r\n\"He didn't want to fail up here last year,\" Teufel said. \"He had a good [stint] in Double-A, came up here and struggled, he hit a slump at the wrong time. He's obviously out of it, he's turned a corner, and he's looking for a great year up here in the International League.\"
\r\n
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