Scouting Report: LHP Jonathan Niese

The New York Mets drafted left-handed pitcher Jonathan Niese in the 7th round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of Defiance High School in Ohio. Niese, who had committed to the University of Cincinnati and slipped in the draft due to supposed contract demands, signed for $175,000 and immediately became one of the Mets' top left-handed pitching prospects. Here's a scouting report on Jonathan Niese.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jonathan Niese
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: October 27, 1986
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Jonathan Niese had a dominating senior year at Defiance High School in Ohio, going a perfect 12-0 with a 0.12 ERA. No, that is not a misprint. Niese surrendered a grand total of four runs all season and only one of them was earned. Throw in the fact he struck out 144 batters in just 76 innings of work, Niese was a standout pitcher in the high school ranks.

Reported high bonus demands and a seemingly firm commitment to the University of Cincinnati caused Niese's stock to slip a bit on draft day this past June, which worked in the Mets' favor. New York nabbed Niese in the 7th round and was able to work out a deal with the young lefty.

"I knew they had interest in me," Niese told InsidePitchMagazine.com on the day he was drafted by the Mets. "We had talked with the Mets before the draft about working out some sort of arrangement before the draft. I knew both of us were fairly interested in each other and it definitely looks like we'll be swinging a deal. Yeah, I'm definitely going pro."

Seeking much higher bonus money than a 7th round pick is normally slotted for, Niese and the Mets worked out a deal for a $175,000 signing bonus, which was the equivalent of 5th round money and the exact same amount that 5th round pick Drew Butera had agreed to with the Mets.

"It feels great," Niese told us in a previous interview. "This is what I've been working towards my whole life and what I have been dreaming about since I was a kid and all through high school."

Upon signing later than most draft picks, Niese made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Mets on July 19th and made an immediate impression, striking out three batters in two innings of hitless relief against the GCL Marlins. He finished the season going 1-0 in seven games for the GCL Mets, limiting opposing batters to a .245 batting average. It was his dominance against left-handed batters - holding them to a .143 average - that has the Mets excited about his upside.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2005

GCL

1-0

24.2

23

10

24

3.65



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Splitter.

Fastball. Jonathan Niese throws predominantly 4-seam fastballs in the 88-91 MPH range, topping off at 94 MPH. He has excellent movement with his fastball and he is able to locate his fastball with great consistency. Niese does throw a 2-seamer at times but, until going pro, didn't have a need to throw it too much because his 4-seamer runs across the plate so much. At just 19-years old, his feel for the 2-seamer puts him ahead of the learning curve for a pitcher of his experience.

Other Pitches. Niese throws a very good changeup in the 78-81 MPH range. He has good late life with his changeup which sweeps across the plate outside. Niese does possess a very good curveball that sits 70-73 MPH, but it is a pitch where his command is the least consistent. When it is on, it is a plus pitch for him but he'll need to learn to get better command of it as he continues to develop. Niese does have one of the nastier splitters going, especially for a pitcher of his age. His splitter is still in the development stage, but it already has the potential to be an out pitch for him.

Pitching. Niese is obviously a strikeout pitcher that goes right after batters. His fastball is currently an average Major League pitch for him right now. He'll need to learn to have better command of his curveball, especially to right-handed batters, if he's going to become the type of pitcher the Mets believe he could be down the road. Niese, with a potentially good curveball and splitter, will also need to learn to pitch inside a bit more to keep those right-handed batters from smacking his changeups on the outside of the plate the other way.

Projection. Niese has some projection left in his fastball. He has the body type to add some useful muscle mass and a couple of seasons of professional coaching could clean up his mechanics and give him a couple of extra ticks on his fastball. The development of his splitter and improved consistency with his curveball will be the tell-tale sign of what his ceiling is as a future Major League pitcher. As it stands right now, Niese projects to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter down the road, but he could develop into a special pitching prospect if everything goes right. He doesn't have the ceiling of Scott Kazmir, but he has the talent to be the top left-handed starting pitching prospect in the Mets' farm system.

ETA. 2010. The fact that the Mets don't have many lefties at all in their system should mean that Niese could rise through the organization quicker than most. He has a real opportunity to break Spring Training in 2006 with the Hagerstown Suns. Where he begins the season next year will be one of the major factors in nailing down his progression time through the system. If he's able to see ample time in the South Atlantic League next season, Niese should be on a projected path that puts him at Shea Stadium by 2010, when he'll still only be 23-years old.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Jonathan Niese
\r\nPosition: Starting Pitcher
\r\nDOB: October 27, 1986
\r\nHeight: 6'3\"
\r\nWeight: 190
\r\nBats: Left
\r\nThrows: Left
\r\n
\r\nJonathan Niese had a dominating senior year at Defiance High School in Ohio, going a perfect 12-0 with a 0.12 ERA. No, that is not a misprint. Niese surrendered a grand total of four runs all season and only one of them was earned. Throw in the fact he struck out 144 batters in just 76 innings of work, Niese was a standout pitcher in the high school ranks.
\r\n
\r\nReported high bonus demands and a seemingly firm commitment to the University of Cincinnati caused Niese's stock to slip a bit on draft day this past June, which worked in the Mets' favor. New York nabbed Niese in the 7th round and was able to work out a deal with the young lefty.
\r\n
\r\n\"I knew they had interest in me,\" Niese told InsidePitchMagazine.com on the day he was drafted by the Mets. \"We had talked with the Mets before the draft about working out some sort of arrangement before the draft. I knew both of us were fairly interested in each other and it definitely looks like we'll be swinging a deal. Yeah, I'm definitely going pro.\"
\r\n
\r\nSeeking much higher bonus money than a 7th round pick is normally slotted for, Niese and the Mets worked out a deal for a $175,000 signing bonus, which was the equivalent of 5th round money and the exact same amount that 5th round pick Drew Butera had agreed to with the Mets.
\r\n
\r\n\"It feels great,\" Niese told us in a previous interview. \"This is what I've been working towards my whole life and what I have been dreaming about since I was a kid and all through high school.\"
\r\n
\r\nUpon signing later than most draft picks, Niese made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Mets on July 19th and made an immediate impression, striking out three batters in two innings of hitless relief against the GCL Marlins. \r\nHe finished the season going 1-0 in seven games for the GCL Mets, limiting opposing batters to a .245 batting average. It was his dominance against left-handed batters - holding them to a .143 average - that has the Mets excited about his upside.
\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2005

\r\n

\r\n GCL

\r\n

\r\n 1-0

\r\n

\r\n 24.2

\r\n

\r\n 23

\r\n

\r\n 10

\r\n

\r\n 24

\r\n

\r\n 3.65


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Splitter.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Jonathan Niese throws predominantly 4-seam fastballs in the 88-91 MPH range, topping off at 94 MPH. He has excellent movement with his fastball and he is able to locate his fastball with great consistency. Niese does throw a 2-seamer at times but, until going pro, didn't have a need to throw it too much because his 4-seamer runs across the plate so much. At just 19-years old, his feel for the 2-seamer puts him ahead of the learning curve for a pitcher of his experience.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Niese throws a very good changeup in the 78-81 MPH range. He has good late life with his changeup which sweeps across the plate outside. Niese does possess a very good curveball that sits 70-73 MPH, but it is a pitch where his command is the least consistent. When it is on, it is a plus pitch for him but he'll need to learn to get better command of it as he continues to develop. Niese does have one of the nastier splitters going, especially for a pitcher of his age. His splitter is still in the development stage, but it already has the potential to be an out pitch for him.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Niese is obviously a strikeout pitcher that goes right after batters. His fastball is currently an average Major League pitch for him right now. He'll need to learn to have better command of his curveball, especially to right-handed batters, if he's going to become the type of pitcher the Mets believe he could be down the road. Niese, with a potentially good curveball and splitter, will also need to learn to pitch inside a bit more to keep those right-handed batters from smacking his changeups on the outside of the plate the other way.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Niese has some projection left in his fastball. He has the body type to add some useful muscle mass and a couple of seasons of professional coaching could clean up his mechanics and give him a couple of extra ticks on his fastball. The development of his splitter and improved consistency with his curveball will be the tell-tale sign of what his ceiling is as a future Major League pitcher. As it stands right now, Niese projects to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter down the road, but he could develop into a special pitching prospect if everything goes right. He doesn't have the ceiling of Scott Kazmir, but he has the talent to be the top left-handed starting pitching prospect in the Mets' farm system.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2010. The fact that the Mets don't have many lefties at all in their system should mean that Niese could rise through the organization quicker than most. He has a real opportunity to break Spring Training in 2006 with the Hagerstown Suns. Where he begins the season next year will be one of the major factors in nailing down his progression time through the system. If he's able to see ample time in the South Atlantic League next season, Niese should be on a projected path that puts him at Shea Stadium by 2010, when he'll still only be 23-years old.
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