Nieves Needs To Pick Up His Offense

The 2012 season marks Luis Nieves' seventh in professional baseball since being signed by the Mets in 2006. Entering his second full season in Low-A Savannah, Nieves hopes that his hitting will step up to compliment his already plus defensive abilities and potential at the shortstop position.

Luis Nieves spent the offseason playing baseball back home in his native Venezuela for the Caribes based out of Puerto La Cruz where he was able to keep himself in baseball mode. Aside from the extra game experience in Venezuela Nieves said he has returned this year a little stronger and believes the extra mass will aid in his hitting.

He called the 2012 Spring Training "one of the best of his career" and was happy to have received more chances to on a daily basis. Defensively Nieves is already performing at and above expectations in 2012. The shortstop was named the team's Defensive Player of the Month for April. Nieves has also shown some defensive proficiency in the clutch.

"Those are big league hands," Sand Gnats manager Luis Rojas, "He made two game-saving plays in Charleston going to his right and left in the 9th inning."

Nieves is a smooth infielder adept at charging grounders. He has a good first step with great reactions and instincts that combine to make up for his average [but accurate] throwing arm.

Coach Rojas said Nieves already possesses the physical abilities of a major league level middle infielder but needs to focus on maintaining the mental side of his game and ratcheting up his consistency on a day to day basis. He said that is a legacy of Nieves's upbringing in Venezuela and the different approach to player development in that area.

"Down there they have to focus on developing tools," Rojas said, "and there is no little league system like what exists in the United States."

Because of the focus on developing raw skills without the experience, Rojas said that players like Nieves often come the United States with great tools but lacking the necessary in-game experience needed to apply those tools effectively to game situations.

One of the tools Nieves appears to have acquired is speed. He is ten for ten in stolen base attempts, indicating that he is applying his speed tools effectively in that area. Right now Nieves is on pace to eclipse his career high of 27 steals in the 2007 season.

Speed and defense are not in the way of Luis Nieves and a major league roster spot. Right now it is his offense that must be improved.

"He needs to keep working on his hitting and bunting ability," Rojas said.

Nieves is a natural right handed hitter who was converted to a switch hitter early in his development. Hitting coach Joel Fuentes says that contact is the key to Nieves' success as a hitter.

At his point Nieves is a little stronger hitting from the right side. Coach Fuentes believes this is because Nieves is attempting to supplement his slight lack of comfort when hitting left-handed by jumping out at the ball instead of staying back and possibly resulting in Nieves sub .200 batting average.

"Luis is still moving his front shoulder and his head a lot from the left-hand side," Fuentes said. "I think sometimes he is trying to get some momentum into the pitch instead of staying back and relaxed. And it is very difficult to hit when your head and body are moving a lot."

Fuentes believes that cutting down on the amount of movement will aid in Nieves's ability to hit with consistency left-handed. Nieves also feels that he needs to work on becoming stronger at the plate and developing gap power.

Strength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin said adding mass to Nieves's 163 pound frame is crucial and can help him achieve those goals as well as improve his chances for future success professional baseball.

"It would be great if we could get Luis up to 180 pounds the added mass would help everything from his power at the plate to his ability to stay healthy," Griffin said.

The barrier to achieving the goal of added mass is Nieves's naturally fast metabolism.

"We keep Luis on protein and he can eat like crazy, but he just burns it all off so swiftly that it's hard to pack mass on him," Griffin revealed.

According to Griffin the greatest challenge for himself and Nieves will be packing on mass without losing the quick feet and speed that aids Nieves in the field and running the bases. If they are successful Griffin believes that it will dramatically improve Nieves's chances of moving up through the Mets system.

Nieves has goals and aspirations of playing in the majors but like many other players Nieves knows he is fortunate to have the opportunity to be in the minor league system and play baseball for a living.

"I'm happy because I'm getting better every day," Nieves concluded.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nLuis Nieves spent the offseason playing baseball back home in his native Venezuela for the Caribes based out of Puerto La Cruz where he was able to keep himself in baseball mode. Aside from the extra game experience in Venezuela Nieves said he has returned this year a little stronger and believes the extra mass will aid in his hitting.
\r\n
\r\nHe called the 2012 Spring Training \"one of the best of his career\" and was happy to have received more chances to on a daily basis. Defensively Nieves is already performing at and above expectations in 2012. The shortstop was named the team's Defensive Player of the Month for April. Nieves has also shown some defensive proficiency in the clutch.
\r\n
\r\n\"Those are big league hands,\" Sand Gnats manager Luis Rojas, \"He made two game-saving plays in Charleston going to his right and left in the 9th inning.\"
\r\n
\r\nNieves is a smooth infielder adept at charging grounders. He has a good first step with great reactions and instincts that combine to make up for his average [but accurate] throwing arm.
\r\n
\r\nCoach Rojas said Nieves already possesses the physical abilities of a major league level middle infielder but needs to focus on maintaining the mental side of his game and ratcheting up his consistency on a day to day basis. He said that is a legacy of Nieves's upbringing in Venezuela and the different approach to player development in that area.
\r\n
\r\n\"Down there they have to focus on developing tools,\" Rojas said, \"and there is no little league system like what exists in the United States.\"
\r\n
\r\nBecause of the focus on developing raw skills without the experience, Rojas said that players like Nieves often come the United States with great tools but lacking the necessary in-game experience needed to apply those tools effectively to game situations.
\r\n
\r\nOne of the tools Nieves appears to have acquired is speed. He is ten for ten in stolen base attempts, indicating that he is applying his speed tools effectively in that area. Right now Nieves is on pace to eclipse his career high of 27 steals in the 2007 season.
\r\n
\r\nSpeed and defense are not in the way of Luis Nieves and a major league roster spot. Right now it is his offense that must be improved.
\r\n
\r\n\"He needs to keep working on his hitting and bunting ability,\" Rojas said.
\r\n
\r\nNieves is a natural right handed hitter who was converted to a switch hitter early in his development. Hitting coach Joel Fuentes says that contact is the key to Nieves' success as a hitter.
\r\n
\r\nAt his point Nieves is a little stronger hitting from the right side. Coach Fuentes believes this is because Nieves is attempting to supplement his slight lack of comfort when hitting left-handed by jumping out at the ball instead of staying back and possibly resulting in Nieves sub .200 batting average.
\r\n
\r\n\"Luis is still moving his front shoulder and his head a lot from the left-hand side,\" Fuentes said. \"I think sometimes he is trying to get some momentum into the pitch instead of staying back and relaxed. And it is very difficult to hit when your head and body are moving a lot.\"
\r\n
\r\nFuentes believes that cutting down on the amount of movement will aid in Nieves's ability to hit with consistency left-handed. Nieves also feels that he needs to work on becoming stronger at the plate and developing gap power.
\r\n
\r\nStrength and conditioning coach Jason Griffin said adding mass to Nieves's 163 pound frame is crucial and can help him achieve those goals as well as improve his chances for future success professional baseball.
\r\n
\r\n\"It would be great if we could get Luis up to 180 pounds the added mass would help everything from his power at the plate to his ability to stay healthy,\" Griffin said.
\r\n
\r\nThe barrier to achieving the goal of added mass is Nieves's naturally fast metabolism.
\r\n
\r\n\"We keep Luis on protein and he can eat like crazy, but he just burns it all off so swiftly that it's hard to pack mass on him,\" Griffin revealed.
\r\n
\r\nAccording to Griffin the greatest challenge for himself and Nieves will be packing on mass without losing the quick feet and speed that aids Nieves in the field and running the bases. If they are successful Griffin believes that it will dramatically improve Nieves's chances of moving up through the Mets system.
\r\n
\r\nNieves has goals and aspirations of playing in the majors but like many other players Nieves knows he is fortunate to have the opportunity to be in the minor league system and play baseball for a living.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm happy because I'm getting better every day,\" Nieves concluded.
\r\n
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