Scouting Mets Prospect #17: Eric Niesen

After a rocky second season in 2008, Eric Niesen wanted to bounce back in a big way. He returned to St. Lucie to begin the season, but eventually worked his way up to Binghamton. It is anticipated that Niesen will use his Double-A stint as a catapult for bigger things in 2010. What will help him do it? Check out his scouting report to find out.

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

How Eric Niesen bounced back from a disappointing season would be a personal storyline for the former third round pick. Niesen was a made a high draft pick on the promise of his live arm and good velocity from the left side, but struggled in his first crack at long season ball with St. Lucie in 2008. Ups and downs, stretches of success and bumps in the road defined his year in the Florida State League. Therefore, it was a prudent move to have him repeat the level at the start of the 2009 season.

It was anticipated that getting another crack at the Florida State League would allow Niesen to settle in and make the appropriate adjustments to his game. Specifically, Niesen needed to solidify his approach and gain more trust in his repertoire. He backed it up by going 3-4 with a 3.28 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 16 walks in 11 starts with the High-A Mets. Rick Waits, the organization's pitching coordinator, thought confidence played a significant role in his pitcher's early turnaround.

"I talk with him a lot and I see a lot of confidence coming from him," said Waits. "The discussion is now more questions about approach and less talk about his mechanics and his pitches versus pitching and how to approach hitters. That's what you want to hear eventually from pitchers, that their mind gets off their mechanics and more on the game."

The pattern of early struggles and later adjustments continued when he was promoted to Double-A Binghamton in June. It was a contentious beginning to say the least. He went 1-6 with an ERA near 7.00 in his first nine starts with the B-Mets. His stuff has never come into question, but rather it has been Niesen's ability to acclimate to new levels that has been the biggest hurdle.

" I think he's a little slower to adjustments but that's not because he's not smart. It's just that he tries things in bullpens and side work before he puts it into game work," said Waits. "He's a very analytical kid and one that really listens and finds a way to make the adjustment work for him. I think that's why you've seen at each level with him that he seems to do better in the second half."

Niesen found a rhythm down the stretch and went 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA and a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last five starts. He wrapped up his first Double-A stint with a 4-7 record and 4.66 ERA in 16 starts. He followed up his regular season with a spot in the Arizona Fall League, but was unsuccessful in four appearances before he was shut down due to a muscle pull in his torso. Despite the brief showing in the AFL, Waits feels Niesen is prepared to return strong in 2010.

"We've reached the point now, after the Arizona Fall League, that I don't think we'll see those delayed adjustments anymore,' said Waits. "He knows what kind of pitcher he is, and I think that will allow him to start the season right on track."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2009

Binghamton

4-7

0

83.0

75

41

85

4.66

2009

St. Lucie

3-4

0

57.2

52

16

49

3.28

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 boasts an above average fastball that has both velocity, 90-92 MPH, and natural, two-seam tailing action. In previous seasons, Niesen would try to paint the fastball or command down in the zone to induce contact. While he still commits to the latter, he became more trusting and aggressive with it. He is willing to challenge hitters in the strike zone. He mixes in a four-seam fastball with heavy cutting action that he uses to attack right-handers on the inner third. His fastball command can be shaky at times, but he has a consistent arm slot that should allow for his natural stuff to take over.

Other Pitches: Niesen's top secondary pitch is a big league average slider, thrown 75-79 MPH, with a lot of sweeping movement and some late drop. Generating that drop to create two-plane movement is imperative to the success of his pitch. It has enough movement that he can get away with leaving it up in the zone at this level. When he keeps it down, he gets hitters to swing over the top of it, making it an effective put-away pitch. Better command and more consistent two-plane movement will play a significant role in Niesen getting to the highest level. He wraps up his repertoire with an improving changeup that received constant tinkering throughout the season. His high-70s to low-80s changeup flashed good drop at times, and was better in the second half, especially late, when he settled on a grip and attained feel for the pitch.

Pitching: There are a lot of moving parts to Niesen's delivery. He brings his arm behind his body, holding the ball deep in his hand before slinging the ball at a three-quarters slot. He uses a toe tap with his plant leg to settle his motion and finishes across his body. That much movement makes him susceptible to some consistency issues with his mechanics and the effectiveness of his pitches. Confident pitching with the fastball to set up his secondary stuff is a big part of his game, but he will not shy away from using his fastball to finish at-bats.

Projection: At the moment, Niesen's changeup has not developed enough to provide confidence that he can be a starter at the big league level. Combine that with a history of struggling to make adjustments, and adapting to a level within one season, and his learning curve gets steeper. He has a live arm, but struggles with maintaining a consistent approach which causes his command to suffer at times. However, Niesen's velocity from the left side and his slider should carry him to the big leagues, likely in a relief role.

ETA: 2011. Niesen is expected to return to Binghamton and if his pattern of repeating levels holds true, he should see enough time in Triple-A to set him up for a big league debut some time during the following season.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nTo discuss all of the scouting reports, head to the Subscribers Forum
\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 (2007) – Wake Forest
\r\n
\r\nHow Eric Niesen bounced back from a disappointing season would be a personal storyline for the former third round pick. Niesen was a made a high draft pick on the promise of his live arm and good velocity from the left side, but struggled in his first crack at long season ball with St. Lucie in 2008. Ups and downs, stretches of success and bumps in the road defined his year in the Florida State League. Therefore, it was a prudent move to have him repeat the level at the start of the 2009 season.
\r\n
\r\nIt was anticipated that getting another crack at the Florida State League would allow Niesen to settle in and make the appropriate adjustments to his game. Specifically, Niesen needed to solidify his approach and gain more trust in his repertoire. He backed it up by going 3-4 with a 3.28 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 16 walks in 11 starts with the High-A Mets. Rick Waits, the organization's pitching coordinator, thought confidence played a significant role in his pitcher's early turnaround.
\r\n
\r\n \"I talk with him a lot and I see a lot of confidence coming from him,\" said Waits. \"The discussion is now more questions about approach and less talk about his mechanics and his pitches versus pitching and how to approach hitters. That's what you want to hear eventually from pitchers, that their mind gets off their mechanics and more on the game.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe pattern of early struggles and later adjustments continued when he was promoted to Double-A Binghamton in June. It was a contentious beginning to say the least. He went 1-6 with an ERA near 7.00 in his first nine starts with the B-Mets. His stuff has never come into question, but rather it has been Niesen's ability to acclimate to new levels that has been the biggest hurdle.
\r\n
\r\n\" I think he's a little slower to adjustments but that's not because he's not smart. It's just that he tries things in bullpens and side work before he puts it into game work,\" said Waits. \"He's a very analytical kid and one that really listens and finds a way to make the adjustment work for him. I think that's why you've seen at each level with him that he seems to do better in the second half.\"
\r\n
\r\nNiesen found a rhythm down the stretch and went 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA and a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last five starts. He wrapped up his first Double-A stint with a 4-7 record and 4.66 ERA in 16 starts. He followed up his regular season with a spot in the Arizona Fall League, but was unsuccessful in four appearances before he was shut down due to a muscle pull in his torso. Despite the brief showing in the AFL, Waits feels Niesen is prepared to return strong in 2010.
\r\n
\r\n\"We've reached the point now, after the Arizona Fall League, that I don't think we'll see those delayed adjustments anymore,' said Waits. \"He knows what kind of pitcher he is, and I think that will allow him to start the season right on track.\"
\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 \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 2009

\r\n

\r\n Binghamton

\r\n

\r\n 4-7

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 83.0

\r\n

\r\n 75

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 85

\r\n

\r\n 4.66

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n 3-4

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 57.2

\r\n

\r\n 52

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 49

\r\n

\r\n 3.28

\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\n
\r\nRepertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup
\r\n
\r\nFastball: Niesen boasts an above average fastball that has both velocity, 90-92 MPH, and natural, two-seam tailing action. In previous seasons, Niesen would try to paint the fastball or command down in the zone to induce contact. While he still commits to the latter, he became more trusting and aggressive with it. He is willing to challenge hitters in the strike zone. He mixes in a four-seam fastball with heavy cutting action that he uses to attack right-handers on the inner third. His fastball command can be shaky at times, but he has a consistent arm slot that should allow for his natural stuff to take over.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches: Niesen's top secondary pitch is a big league average slider, thrown 75-79 MPH, with a lot of sweeping movement and some late drop. Generating that drop to create two-plane movement is imperative to the success of his pitch. It has enough movement that he can get away with leaving it up in the zone at this level. When he keeps it down, he gets hitters to swing over the top of it, making it an effective put-away pitch. Better command and more consistent two-plane movement will play a significant role in Niesen getting to the highest level. He wraps up his repertoire with an improving changeup that received constant tinkering throughout the season. His high-70s to low-80s changeup flashed good drop at times, and was better in the second half, especially late, when he settled on a grip and attained feel for the pitch.
\r\n
\r\nPitching: There are a lot of moving parts to Niesen's delivery. He brings his arm behind his body, holding the ball deep in his hand before slinging the ball at a three-quarters slot. He uses a toe tap with his plant leg to settle his motion and finishes across his body. That much movement makes him susceptible to some consistency issues with his mechanics and the effectiveness of his pitches. Confident pitching with the fastball to set up his secondary stuff is a big part of his game, but he will not shy away from using his fastball to finish at-bats.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: At the moment, Niesen's changeup has not developed enough to provide confidence that he can be a starter at the big league level. Combine that with a history of struggling to make adjustments, and adapting to a level within one season, and his learning curve gets steeper. He has a live arm, but struggles with maintaining a consistent approach which causes his command to suffer at times. However, Niesen's velocity from the left side and his slider should carry him to the big leagues, likely in a relief role.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2011. Niesen is expected to return to Binghamton and if his pattern of repeating levels holds true, he should see enough time in Triple-A to set him up for a big league debut some time during the following season.
\r\n
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