Here are comments from VP Paul DePodesta and scouting director Chad MacDonald on the selection of Wyoming high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo ...
What attracted you to Nimmo, and how did you make an evaluation given he may not have seen the same caliber/quantity of play as other candidates?
MacDonald: "Athletic. Good body. Speed/head combo. Stays in the middle of the field. Really good swing. There's a finish to it. Power is coming. A middle-of-the-field guy that can hit with power. That's what we like."
DePodesta: "Just to talk about the Wyoming piece of it, this has really become a year-long process. It's not something where we just scout guys in the spring. Fortunately, our staff here saw a lot of this guy last summer. He played in the Under Armour game in Chicago, was actually the MVP of that game. We saw him this spring in Phoenix when his team made a spring trip there for a week or so in early April, and then got to see him in almost every game he played through the course of this spring. So we've actually seen a lot of this player, seen him against some different competition. And we've always seen him do the same thing. I think he has an advanced feel for the strike zone. He is an effective hitter. I think he has the chance to not only hit, but hit for power, as Chad said, and feel comfortable that he's going to compete well against more consistent competition -- although I will say when we went out there to Cheyenne, they play some pretty good baseball there. I think if you dropped their game in South Carolina or Louisiana or Arizona you wouldn't have really been able to tell a difference in terms of the caliber of the high school play up there."
Were you intent on an outfielder the whole time, or was it best player on the board?
DePodesta: "We were certainly focused on best player on the board. I think we were ideally looking for a position player. This draft was certainly deep in college pitching, but we felt there were only a few potential impact bats. If we were going to get one of them, we had to take him up high. There are some other bats still left on the board that we like, so we'll see how it plays out through the course of the rest of today and tomorrow. But we felt like if we were going to get a guy like this that had the chance to hit near the top or in the middle of a lineup, we needed to take him right away. So that's what we did."
Can you talk more about the scouting effort, and how many times you saw Nimmo?
DePodesta: "For me, personally, I ran out there the day before Mother's Day. I got up early in the morning in San Diego, flew to Denver, drove up there, saw a doubleheader, and flew back the first flight the next morning to get home on Mother's Day. I remember when I was leaving on the trip, my wife, at the time, said, 'This one better be worth it.' Fortunately, it was."
MacDonald: "We made a conscious effort once we knew he was a guy in the mix, and early on, we covered just about every game. And it was a unique schedule, both because of the location where he played, the weather and mostly because they played on the weekends, so there's really no midweek games. We had guys at every game. Even this past weekend we had two guys fly out from New York to sit on him this weekend. So we scouted him. We scouted him good. Probably eight or 10 different scouts over the course of the year. We are really happy with the process."
What is it like for you being in charge of a draft again?
DePodesta: "It's pretty special. It gets pretty emotional when everybody is in there, I think if you had a chance to be in the room when we called out the name. And everybody in the room was able to surround Jim Reeves, our scout in the Northwest, who is responsible for Nimmo's area. Jim has been with the organization for about 25 years. For him to be able to be in the room and have everybody around him and congratulating him on our first-round selection, I think, is pretty special. We're going to take a lot of pride not only in Brandon but in the next 50 guys we're going to take over the next two and a half days. We'll certainly be emotionally invested in this draft and in these players' futures with our organization."
Is he more of a project because of the talent he's been exposed to?
DePodesta: "I don't think it's unlike most high school players. Most of those guys are going to need more consistent, good pitching in order to continue to get better. That's why most high school players will start their careers in the Gulf Coast League for that reason. I don't think he's any different than those guys. We do think he has some advanced skills. We're hopeful he can move along. But like with any high school player, this certainly isn't without risk. But as we went into this, to be quite frank with you, we weren't interested in making what we thought was the safest pick. We were interested in making the pick that we thought had the chance to make the most impact. So obviously the way we went, it certainly is going to be a process. The baseball draft isn't like the NFL or the NBA where you get some immediate gratification out of the picks. Even the best guys often take three, four years to get to the big leagues. I suspect he'll follow that path. We think the reward at the end will be well worth it."
He's committed to Arkansas. What about signability?
MacDonald: "We know this: He's passionate about playing. He told us he wanted to play and start his career. ... We'll let the negotiations play out, and we're confident he'll be a New York Met."