Position: Second Base
Nunez was signed by the Tigers prior to the 2008 season, after working out with the club during their Dominican Fall Instructional League. Nunez's debut season as a pro was a solid success, as he posted a .275/.369/.357 line in 49 games. Nunez showed a strong knowledge of the strike zone as a teenager in the Dominican, walking 25 times and striking out only 44.
The Tigers quickly brought him stateside for the 2009 season, and he did not disappoint, ripping the ball to the tune of a .308/.353/.531 line en route to winning TigsTown's GCL Player of the Year award. His line was backed by seven doubles, five triples, and five home runs all while showing strong defensive abilities.
Following a natural promotion to short-season Connecticut in 2010, Nunez managed a modest .223 batting average in 68 games as the everyday second baseman for Howard Bushong's club. While he ripped 14 doubles and a couple of home runs, Nunez saw some regression in his handling of the strike zone, walking only 14 times, and striking out 76. The one area of his game that stepped forward in 2010 was his base stealing, as he snagged 14 bases, while being caught six times.
Though Nunez was signed with a reputation for having a strong work ethic and being a day-in, day-out grinder, some scouts and coaches have begun to question his work ethic over the last year. Many times throughout the 2010 season, he seemed to be doing things at his own pace and at times, half speed. Many in the organization feel the changes that were seen this year are more a product of Nunez growing up and learning that playing baseball is his profession. If he comes out in 2011 and gets back to working hard like he did his first two years, the lapse in 2010 will be forgotten, and the belief that he can fulfill his raw tools, should return.
When he is playing hard and playing well, Nunez shows a broad skill set. He is an above-average runner that must improve his instincts on the bases and in the field. He has decent range, though it could be improved by better positioning and remaining more alert in the field. His hands are good, and he has good footwork as well, helping his above-average arm play well in game situations.
Nunez has the potential to have an average hit tool, but he must tighten his command of the strike zone for his ability to really come to the fore. He is easily fooled by good breaking balls, and scouts often saw him out on his front foot too frequently. His power is a below-average tool overall, but he could hit a fair number of doubles as he matures.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
In his three years as a professional, Nunez has not battled anything more than day-to-day nagging injuries.
The 2011 season is very likely to see Nunez promoted to West Michigan for his first taste of full-season ball, and a true test of his focus and mental ability. There are enough tools and enough raw ability there to be an average big league second baseman, but he is also a long way from reaching that ceiling.
Nunez will need to improve his pitch recognition and plate discipline to hit enough to remain a prospect. He doesn't have any defensive options other than second base, leaving him without the option of projecting as a utility player, so his bat will determine just how much of a prospect he ends up becoming.
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