Scouting Mets Prospect #26: Eric Niesen

In his second season, left-hander Eric Niesen added significant innings to his workload as a starter in St. Lucie but endured his share of tests as well. A reliever during his collegiate years, he continues to learn what it takes to remain a starter while making sure his repertoire is as deep as can be.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Eric Niesen
DOB: September 4, 1985
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 192
Throws: Left
Bats: Left
Status: 3rd Round Pick (2007) – Wake Forest University

In 2008, southpaw Eric Niesen experienced a wide range of tests that often confront any second-year pitcher, especially for one who made the jump to High-A from short-season ball. For Niesen, his season was seemingly indicative of his entire club as he got off to a sluggish start and peaked mid-season before ultimately tailing off in the final weeks.

The season's workload was newly chartered territory as Niesen, predominately a reliever in college, compiled 118 1/3 innings pitched—a number far exceeding any previous collegiate or professional total.

"That was new for me to do in a full-season after making only a few starts last year and being primarily a reliever in college. I thought it was a good learning curve this year which will pay off next year," he explained.

"I would say the season as a whole had its ups and downs, but overall it went well, it showed me a lot, and I learned going through those up and down times."

He got off to a 2-5 start with a with 5.20 ERA through the season's first two months, but pitching while significantly altering his approach from that of a reliever to a starter was a cause for a number of his issues. Before, Niesen was much more liberal with the use of the strike zone but a long-term switch to the rotation has him shifting methods.

"In Brooklyn last year, I would only throw three innings at a time in a reliever mentality," said Niesen. "This year I was moving to a groundball mentality from a strikeout one where I tried to get hitters out on three pitches or less."

"At the beginning of the year, it was still more of a college mentality. As the year went on, I really felt more of a professional pitcher with more efficiency, using movement, being more consistent. I can't just beat guys with fastballs. I learned how to set guys up and I think that's the day-in, day-out thing that I continue to learn in every start," he continued.

He did recover and had fairly successful months in July and August, during which he posted a combined 2-4 record with a 3.70 ERA. Though the numbers did not jump off the page, it was a swing that pitching coordinator Rick Waits saw as pivotal towards his left-hander's season.

"This year was a challenge for him of starting for the whole year. I think by the end of the year he learned a lot of things about himself and his ability which is very important for a pitcher," he explained.

Success came sporadically for Niesen, but his constant, positive mentality and acute pitching mind kept him on track. No matter the swings of momentum—whether positive or negative—he is very aware of the demands of being a starter and is ready to tackle them head on.

"I think the life of pitching for a full season, things come up that I have to adapt to both on and off the field, and that was big for me. It taught me what worked and what didn't, and what changed from start to start. I also learned how to take the disappointments and turn that into what I can do on the good days, and incorporate that into a plan."

"Being a starter for a whole season taught me to how to not get too down and shake off bad outings and come back stronger the next time," Niesen disclosed.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2008

St. Lucie

6-12

0

118.1

136

46

77

4.64

2007

St. Lucie

0-0

0

3.0

3

1

3

0.00

2007

Brooklyn

0-3

0

30.0

30

25

27

3.30


Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup

Fastball: Niesen's two-seam fastball does not possess much swing and miss potential, but his game is most efficient when he locates his 89-90 MPH fastball with sinking action on the corners to set up his secondary pitches. His four-seam fastball, at 90-92 MPH, has decent tailing movement which makes it more effective to left-handed batters. He must keep the fastball down or away to right-handers as the movement will get too much of the plate when he fails to spot it.

Other Pitches: Niesen's slider is his top secondary pitch and the option he relies on most as a finishing pitch. He throws his fastball in the 78-81 MPH range with good downward movement. However, when he does not stay on top of his slider, it will flatten out and become a very hittable pitch. But when thrown properly, the slider has good 10-to-4 break. The left-hander rounds out his repertoire with a low to mid-70s changeup that he threw with added frequency and greater confidence throughout the season. When thrown properly, its speed is a strong difference from his fastball.

Pitching: Niesen does not mince pitches with hitters, going right after them by starting out off with his fastball and the mixing the rest of his repertoire. He likes to work quickly and pitch to contact so he does not max out his stamina early into games or pile up the walks which affected him during the 2008 season. Niesen will change speeds and work the corners as he relies on movement.

Projection: Though he pitched as a reliever in his past, the Mets will stick with Niesen as a starter while on the farm. If he can maintain consistency and add strength in coming years, the southpaw could crack the 25-man roster as a fourth or fifth starter. However, 2009 will a pivotal year and if he does not show measured improvement at the next level, he could return to a reliever's role—a position he is used to following his time in the bullpen during college.

ETA: 2011. Despite a challenging season in St. Lucie, Niesen will likely open the season in Binghamton. Though his role could shift over the next two years, he should show enough to give the Mets confidence to use him at least in a relief role during the 2011 season.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Eric Niesen
\r\nDOB: September 4, 1985
\r\nHeight: 6'0\"
\r\nWeight: 192
\r\nThrows: Left
\r\nBats: Left
\r\nStatus: 3rd Round Pick (2007) – Wake Forest University
\r\n
\r\nIn 2008, southpaw Eric Niesen experienced a wide range of tests that often confront any second-year pitcher, especially for one who made the jump to High-A from short-season ball. For Niesen, his season was seemingly indicative of his entire club as he got off to a sluggish start and peaked mid-season before ultimately tailing off in the final weeks.
\r\n
\r\nThe season's workload was newly chartered territory as Niesen, predominately a reliever in college, compiled 118 1/3 innings pitched—a number far exceeding any previous collegiate or professional total.
\r\n
\r\n\"That was new for me to do in a full-season after making only a few starts last year and being primarily a reliever in college. I thought it was a good learning curve this year which will pay off next year,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would say the season as a whole had its ups and downs, but overall it went well, it showed me a lot, and I learned going through those up and down times.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe got off to a 2-5 start with a with 5.20 ERA through the season's first two months, but pitching while significantly altering his approach from that of a reliever to a starter was a cause for a number of his issues. Before, Niesen was much more liberal with the use of the strike zone but a long-term switch to the rotation has him shifting methods.
\r\n
\r\n\"In Brooklyn last year, I would only throw three innings at a time in a reliever mentality,\" said Niesen. \"This year I was moving to a groundball mentality from a strikeout one where I tried to get hitters out on three pitches or less.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"At the beginning of the year, it was still more of a college mentality. As the year went on, I really felt more of a professional pitcher with more efficiency, using movement, being more consistent. I can't just beat guys with fastballs. I learned how to set guys up and I think that's the day-in, day-out thing that I continue to learn in every start,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nHe did recover and had fairly successful months in July and August, during which he posted a combined 2-4 record with a 3.70 ERA. Though the numbers did not jump off the page, it was a swing that pitching coordinator Rick Waits saw as pivotal towards his left-hander's season.
\r\n
\r\n\"This year was a challenge for him of starting for the whole year. I think by the end of the year he learned a lot of things about himself and his ability which is very important for a pitcher,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\nSuccess came sporadically for Niesen, but his constant, positive mentality and acute pitching mind kept him on track. No matter the swings of momentum—whether positive or negative—he is very aware of the demands of being a starter and is ready to tackle them head on.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the life of pitching for a full season, things come up that I have to adapt to both on and off the field, and that was big for me. It taught me what worked and what didn't, and what changed from start to start. I also learned how to take the disappointments and turn that into what I can do on the good days, and incorporate that into a plan.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Being a starter for a whole season taught me to how to not get too down and shake off bad outings and come back stronger the next time,\" Niesen disclosed.
\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 \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 W-L

\r\n

\r\n SV

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n Hits

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

K

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n 6-12

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 118.1

\r\n

\r\n 136

\r\n

\r\n 46

\r\n

\r\n 77

\r\n

\r\n 4.64

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 3.0

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 0.00

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Brooklyn

\r\n

\r\n 0-3

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 30.0

\r\n

\r\n 30

\r\n

\r\n 25

\r\n

\r\n 27

\r\n

\r\n 3.30


\r\nRepertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup
\r\n
\r\nFastball: Niesen's two-seam fastball does not possess much swing and miss potential, but his game is most efficient when he locates his 89-90 MPH fastball with sinking action on the corners to set up his secondary pitches. His four-seam fastball, at 90-92 MPH, has decent tailing movement which makes it more effective to left-handed batters. He must keep the fastball down or away to right-handers as the movement will get too much of the plate when he fails to spot it.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches: Niesen's slider is his top secondary pitch and the option he relies on most as a finishing pitch. He throws his fastball in the 78-81 MPH range with good downward movement. However, when he does not stay on top of his slider, it will flatten out and become a very hittable pitch. But when thrown properly, the slider has good 10-to-4 break. The left-hander rounds out his repertoire with a low to mid-70s changeup that he threw with added frequency and greater confidence throughout the season. When thrown properly, its speed is a strong difference from his fastball.
\r\n
\r\nPitching: Niesen does not mince pitches with hitters, going right after them by starting out off with his fastball and the mixing the rest of his repertoire. He likes to work quickly and pitch to contact so he does not max out his stamina early into games or pile up the walks which affected him during the 2008 season. Niesen will change speeds and work the corners as he relies on movement.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: Though he pitched as a reliever in his past, the Mets will stick with Niesen as a starter while on the farm. If he can maintain consistency and add strength in coming years, the southpaw could crack the 25-man roster as a fourth or fifth starter. However, 2009 will a pivotal year and if he does not show measured improvement at the next level, he could return to a reliever's role—a position he is used to following his time in the bullpen during college.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2011. Despite a challenging season in St. Lucie, Niesen will likely open the season in Binghamton. Though his role could shift over the next two years, he should show enough to give the Mets confidence to use him at least in a relief role during the 2011 season.
\r\n
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