Scouting Mets Prospect #31: Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In the third round of the 2008 draft, the Mets selected Kirk Nieuwenhuis. A sizable outfielder with a number of tools, Nieuwenhuis put together a strong first season in Brooklyn and gives the impression there is a lot more to come sooner than later. For now, the Mets scored good value with one of their highest draft picks.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
DOB: August 7, 1987
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Status: 3rd Round Pick (2008) – Azusa Pacific University

The search for the most productive position player selected by the Mets in last June's draft begins and ends with Brooklyn outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The third round pick out of Azusa Pacific University did not disappoint during his professional debut, proving to be a reliable every day player and racking up team-leading statistics along the way.

In missing just one of his club's 75 games this past season, Nieuwenhuis hit .277 [second among the team's regulars], hit three home runs and led the team in RBI [29], hits [79], walks [29], runs [34] and extra-base hits [23]. Surely he was given enough opportunity to accumulate those numbers, but it was his combination of tools—hitting ability, speed, and in-game discipline—that allowed him to post such results. Brooklyn manager Edgar Alfonzo was quick to recognize what he brought to the club.

"He's very patient at the plate. He can take his walks, he can bunt, and he can steal bases when he needs to. He does a lot out things out there," Alfonzo said. "He can move hitters over and do the important things to generate runs. He's a quiet but brings a terrific attitude to the field. He brings a lot to the table."

Nieuwenhuis' increasing comfort level was indicative in his production. After a bit of a slow start in which he hit .240 through with four RBI through his first 14 games, his batting average increased with each passing month, culminating with a .289 average and 18 RBI stretch over the final month of the season.

First and foremost, he is able to maintain such consistent production because of a disciplined approach at the plate. Even though strikeouts were sometimes problematic from his leadoff spot, he made a habit of working deep into counts and forcing pitchers to stay in the strike zone.

When Nieuwenhuis is making pitchers work and then come back over the plate is when he is at his best. Unlike many young hitters, he does not habitually rely on one zone to do his damage as his up the middle swing allows him to stay back and use the whole field. It is that mature approach that has scouts believing Nieuwenhuis will be a real player in this organization.

Looking ahead, there are not many drastic changes needed in his game, but rather the 21-year-old just needs to be coached up while gaining experience on the field and keeping goals in perspective.

"Just personally, I do a lot better with short-term goals. Each day I come to the park and take it one pitch at a time, even in batting practice, even in the game. In this game you know you get so many chances, so you have to ‘em one at a time," Nieuwenhuis explained.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2008

Brooklyn

.277

285

79

3

29

34

11

29

70

.348

.396



Batting and Power: Nieuwenhuis' offensive capability stems from his tremendous patience at the plate. He adheres to the mantra of never swinging at the first pitch and will usually see two or three pitches before taking the bat off his shoulder. A hole in his swing down and in led to a high number of strikeouts, but overall he has very good plate coverage and keeps his hips square and swings through the ball with good authority. He has the size and strength to add legitimate power to his game, but further home run power will likely come as he matures his ability to put additional loft on the ball when he makes contact. Right now, the majority of his power remains as an extra-base threat. He does need to speed up the bat against left-handed pitching as they proved to get the best of him, especially on the inner-half.

Base Running and Speed: Nieuwenhuis offers above-average speed, but the combination of that speed with his good instincts on the bases strengthen his tools and turns him into a run-scoring weapon at the top of the order. He was successful in 11 of 18 stolen base attempts last season, but that ratio should improve as he refines his technique. Achieving 20 stolen bases in a season should not be a problem for Nieuwenhuis in coming years.

Defense: The combination of speed and athleticism makes Nieuwenhuis a viable candidate to remain in centerfield. Though his route running is sometimes flawed, he does have a first quick step, can cover a lot of ground and will not hesitate to throw his body around for the big play. He possessed one of the best arms in the Mets' short-season leagues and his ability to charge the ball and quickly release made coaches reconsider sending runners on him. He spent most of his games with Brooklyn in centerfield, but saw a small sampling in right field, an option that remains open because of his arm strength.

Projection: Athleticism is a word heard again and again when describing Nieuwenhuis. Not just speed, but range of motion, strength, and flexibility are all qualities that make him a well-rounded outfielder with a high ceiling. He is extremely coachable with a hardnosed mentality and eagerness to learn. Through continued experience, he could project to become a hitter in the mold of a young Darin Erstad – a left-handed hitter who will maintain a .280-.290 batting average with good gap power, complimentary home run power, the ability to swipe 20-plus bases per season with a reliable outfield glove.

ETA: 2011. Niewenhuis showed enough in Brooklyn last summer that he should skip the South Atlantic League and open 2009 with St. Lucie as an everyday outfielder—whether in centerfield or right field is to be determined. From there he should have plenty of time and opportunity to solidify his game, grow in needed areas and be ready to catch on the Mets' big league roster after two more full seasons on the farm.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
\r\nDOB: August 7, 1987
\r\nHeight: 6'3\"
\r\nWeight: 210
\r\nBats: Left
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\nStatus: 3rd Round Pick (2008) – Azusa Pacific University
\r\n
\r\nThe search for the most productive position player selected by the Mets in last June's draft begins and ends with Brooklyn outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The third round pick out of Azusa Pacific University did not disappoint during his professional debut, proving to be a reliable every day player and racking up team-leading statistics along the way.
\r\n
\r\nIn missing just one of his club's 75 games this past season, Nieuwenhuis hit .277 [second among the team's regulars], hit three home runs and led the team in RBI [29], hits [79], walks [29], runs [34] and extra-base hits [23]. Surely he was given enough opportunity to accumulate those numbers, but it was his combination of tools—hitting ability, speed, and in-game discipline—that allowed him to post such results. Brooklyn manager Edgar Alfonzo was quick to recognize what he brought to the club.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's very patient at the plate. He can take his walks, he can bunt, and he can steal bases when he needs to. He does a lot out things out there,\" Alfonzo said. \"He can move hitters over and do the important things to generate runs. He's a quiet but brings a terrific attitude to the field. He brings a lot to the table.\"
\r\n
\r\nNieuwenhuis' increasing comfort level was indicative in his production. After a bit of a slow start in which he hit .240 through with four RBI through his first 14 games, his batting average increased with each passing month, culminating with a .289 average and 18 RBI stretch over the final month of the season.
\r\n
\r\nFirst and foremost, he is able to maintain such consistent production because of a disciplined approach at the plate. Even though strikeouts were sometimes problematic from his leadoff spot, he made a habit of working deep into counts and forcing pitchers to stay in the strike zone.
\r\n
\r\nWhen Nieuwenhuis is making pitchers work and then come back over the plate is when he is at his best. Unlike many young hitters, he does not habitually rely on one zone to do his damage as his up the middle swing allows him to stay back and use the whole field. It is that mature approach that has scouts believing Nieuwenhuis will be a real player in this organization.
\r\n
\r\nLooking ahead, there are not many drastic changes needed in his game, but rather the 21-year-old just needs to be coached up while gaining experience on the field and keeping goals in perspective.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just personally, I do a lot better with short-term goals. Each day I come to the park and take it one pitch at a time, even in batting practice, even in the game. In this game you know you get so many chances, so you have to ‘em one at a time,\" Nieuwenhuis explained.
\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 \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n AVG.

\r\n

\r\n AB

\r\n

\r\n Hits

\r\n

\r\n HR

\r\n

\r\n RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

\r\n SB

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

K

\r\n

\r\n OBP

\r\n

\r\n SLG

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n Brooklyn

\r\n

\r\n .277

\r\n

\r\n 285

\r\n

\r\n 79

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 29

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n 11

\r\n

\r\n 29

\r\n

\r\n 70

\r\n

\r\n .348

\r\n

\r\n .396


\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power: Nieuwenhuis' offensive capability stems from his tremendous patience at the plate. He adheres to the mantra of never swinging at the first pitch and will usually see two or three pitches before taking the bat off his shoulder. A hole in his swing down and in led to a high number of strikeouts, but overall he has very good plate coverage and keeps his hips square and swings through the ball with good authority. He has the size and strength to add legitimate power to his game, but further home run power will likely come as he matures his ability to put additional loft on the ball when he makes contact. Right now, the majority of his power remains as an extra-base threat. He does need to speed up the bat against left-handed pitching as they proved to get the best of him, especially on the inner-half.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed: Nieuwenhuis offers above-average speed, but the combination of that speed with his good instincts on the bases strengthen his tools and turns him into a run-scoring weapon at the top of the order. He was successful in 11 of 18 stolen base attempts last season, but that ratio should improve as he refines his technique. Achieving 20 stolen bases in a season should not be a problem for Nieuwenhuis in coming years.
\r\n
\r\nDefense: The combination of speed and athleticism makes Nieuwenhuis a viable candidate to remain in centerfield. Though his route running is sometimes flawed, he does have a first quick step, can cover a lot of ground and will not hesitate to throw his body around for the big play. He possessed one of the best arms in the Mets' short-season leagues and his ability to charge the ball and quickly release made coaches reconsider sending runners on him. He spent most of his games with Brooklyn in centerfield, but saw a small sampling in right field, an option that remains open because of his arm strength.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: Athleticism is a word heard again and again when describing Nieuwenhuis. Not just speed, but range of motion, strength, and flexibility are all qualities that make him a well-rounded outfielder with a high ceiling. He is extremely coachable with a hardnosed mentality and eagerness to learn. Through continued experience, he could project to become a hitter in the mold of a young Darin Erstad – a left-handed hitter who will maintain a .280-.290 batting average with good gap power, complimentary home run power, the ability to swipe 20-plus bases per season with a reliable outfield glove.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2011. Niewenhuis showed enough in Brooklyn last summer that he should skip the South Atlantic League and open 2009 with St. Lucie as an everyday outfielder—whether in centerfield or right field is to be determined. From there he should have plenty of time and opportunity to solidify his game, grow in needed areas and be ready to catch on the Mets' big league roster after two more full seasons on the farm.
\r\n
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