Notable Quotables: Nimmo’s grand adventure
By Jake Seiner
Interviewing for game stories can be a fun process. The thousands of players and coaches spread across the Minor Leagues supply a never-ending chain of unique perspectives on the national pastime. The game story isn’t always the best place for block quotes and expanded thoughts, so once a week, I’m hoping to come here with a look back at some of the more interesting conversations I stumble upon with Minor League players and coaches.
Bits and pieces of these quotes may have appeared over at MiLB.com, but when you’re trying to dig into somebody’s back story, sometimes it’s most helpful to hear it all straight from the source. In that spirit, here’s a look back at some quotes from the past week that I hope you’ll find of interest.
Brandon Nimmo on moving from Wyoming to Brooklyn for his first full pro season:
“That first summer was a huge learning experience for me. I don’t think I went a day without learning something new. I was from a state where the whole population is less than what fits in a square mile in Brooklyn. We had 500,000 people in Wyoming. It was obviously a huge change for me, living that kind of lifestyle. I was used to being able to see for 40 miles out over the horizon. In Brooklyn, I could see about 40 feet. There were buildings all around you, people living on top of each other in small living spaces. I wasn’t use to that. I had to get used to that fast-paced lifestyle. The thing about baseball is you change your whole life and have to adjust quickly, and I got adjusted and enjoyed my time out there.
“This was a whole new experience for me. Going from, for me, I didn’t have high school ball, and in Legion ball, you faced a good pitcher maybe every fifth day or so. In the New York-Penn League, I just skipped a whole bunch of levels and was facing great guys all the time. You can’t take any at-bats off. It took time to learn how to approach the game and how to be at 100 percent or close to 100 percent every day, mentally and physically. It just, I had to learn how my body works in this kind of season. It’s just always a new learning stage for me. It was great, and I learned how to deal with a lot of failure.”
Padres prospect Max Fried on adjusting to pro ball:
“It’s different now because I’m a full-time pitcher. In high school, I was a two-way guy. Now I’m able to focus on one craft, and that’s opened up new things for me to work on and focus on on the pitching side. It’s also a lot different now because I’m going four or five innings per start rather than the two innings I was throwing last summer in the AZL. It’s enabled me to sort of grow and really just have a more regimented schedule to follow each time I go out.”
Fried on managing his body:
“I’m definitely a slender build, going about 6-4 and 185 pounds right now. I’m fine with that at the moment. Right now, I’m focusing on maintaining through the season, maybe just adding a few pounds. In the offseason, I’ll focus in on putting on muscle and getting stronger, but I’m not too worried about the weight right now. I’m definitely still maturing, and if my body wants to put on weight, it will.”
Fort Wayne pitching coach Burt Hooton (Fried’s coach) on coaching young hurlers:
“The reason these guys play Minor League Baseball is to get the experience. As a coach, you have to step back and let them learn from experience and point out what they should be learning. [Fried] doesn’t have that much professional experience under his belt. One thing you can’t slap on a guy is time and experience. That takes time.”
Pirates prospect Stetson Allie on his refined plate approach:
“I think, for me, it was, ‘I’m a big guy and I want to hit a bunch of home runs.’ For me, I can hit more home runs when I stay simple with my approach and try to drive the ball to right field. If I pull one over the fence, great, but I try to stay middle to middle away. When I first started, I wanted to crush balls, but as you move up, I’ve learned you have to have a hard-headed approach and stick with it. The harder you try to hit a home run, the more likely you won’t get it. For me, I just try to make solid contact every time and not even think about hitting home runs.
“That hasn’t been hard at all. Home run or not, I’m sticking with the same thing I’ve been doing. All I’m looking for right now is just hard contact. If it goes out, great. If not, at least I hit the ball hard. That’s what I’m going to stick with.”
Tampa manager Luis Sojo on Yankees catching prospect Gary Sanchez:
“When he’s on, his best weapon is to go the opposite way, left-center. He’s so strong, and he knows how to hit. When he’s good, he hits the opposite way. That’s something that’s really going to work down the road. Good hitters do that. Every time you see a good hitter, they can hit the other way. For his young age, he’s very good.”
Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz on Twins prospect Eddie Rosario:
“He’s a little unorthodox, but his barrel stays through the zone for a long time. The great ones at the big leagues, their bats stay in the zone for forever. Eddie does that. He has a special knack for finding the ball with the barrel. He has a presence when he walks up there. He’s one hell of a competitor. He finds a way to barrel up the ball, drive it line to line. He has a knack for that, always finds the barrel. The only way he’s making outs right now is if he gets himself out. He’s one of the better ones I’ve seen at staying flat through the zone.”
Dodgers catching prospect Tyler Ogle on 2012, when he played 43 games across four levels from Rookie ball to Triple-A:
“Last year was a growing up year for me. I was drafted fairly high, and I thought I was going to come into pro ball and continue to have success. That didn’t happen. My swing didn’t work well with wood, and my catching needed work.
“They kept me in extended, and I did a lot of growing up there. I had to fight to get myself out of extended and out of the AZL every day. I changed my swing, changed the way I catch. They had me start in the AZL and at that point, I told myself I gotta get out of here as best as I know how. That’s hitting and doing what I can behind the plate to help the pitching staff. After I started in the AZL, our farm director told me he that if I did my thing there, he would get me out, but that I had to prove myself.
“After a few games, he got me out like he said he would. I went to Michigan [to Great Lakes in the Midwest League] and I started 0-for-20, and I wasn’t feeling well at the plate. I was playing every couple of days, and I lost my consistency and routine. They saw that and didn’t think I was best suited there, so they sent me back to Short Season [Ogden]. I spent time there working a lot on my swing and I had my two hitting coaches from extended there at Short Season, and they took it upon themselves to get me back out there, Johnny Washington and Doug Mientkiewicz.
“Then Matt Wallach got hurt in Double-A, and all the catchers had to bump up a team, so they sent me back to Michigan, which was a lot of moving. For me, it was okay. I was comfortable. I had been to Michigan already once, and it was basically a second chance, but I don’t get to start over with a new average. I was picking up my 0-for-20. I turned it around a little bit, and then they sent me to Albuquerque to fill a backup role there, which was a great experience. It was a lot of moving around, but it taught me I have to be mentally tough.”