There were two stars in this one for the Gnats: RHP Luis Cessa and CF Brandon Nimmo.
Cessa’s line: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K. He was every bit as good as that pitching line suggests. He did not allow a runner to second until the seventh inning. He ran four three-ball counts. He mostly worked off his fastball and changeup although he few a few solid breaking balls down in the zone. In recent outings, he had been sitting 92-93 and touching higher. I will confirm that he was working in that range on Monday. He threw his fastball up, he threw it down. He threw it in, he threw it out. Then he threw a few changups that had RiverDogs’ hitters looking silly. He got a couple strikeouts with guys swinging over top of his curveball. Cessa, a former infielder who didn’t hit much, converted to pitching for the 2011 season and is a lock to move up this off-season’s rankings from his spot at #42 this past winter.
CF Brandon Nimmo: 3-for-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI. The double was a linedrive to left-center off a lefty (!) in the first inning. The single was a liner to center off the same lefty, Eric Wooten in the third that helped set up the Gnats’ first run. I thought the ball hung up long enough to be caught, but the ‘Dogs CF Jake Cave did not see the ball well at twilight. That does not remove the fact that Nimmo made good contact. In his final at-bat, with the Gnats up 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth and a runner at third, Nimmo just needed a sacrifice fly to score the runner. Instead, he parked one over the right field wall, way back there at Historic Grayson Stadium.
Now the context. The double was his second extra-base hit against a lefty in, at the time, 79 plate appearances. Now at 81 plate appearances this year, he’s hitting .203/.321/.232 vs. lefties with two extra-base hits, both doubles. Monday, he layed off a few sliders from Wooten that he very likely would have chased in April. The homerun was a real poke out towards the big part of the ballpark in rightfield. Nimmo’s seven total bases in the game were his most in any contest this year (by my count) and raised his OPS from .713 to .736. It’s nights like Monday that the 20-year-old Nimmo looks like he can grow into an above average everyday centerfielder. Now, he just needs more of them.
A+ – Ppd by Rain
AA – Off