#18 – LHP Eric Niesen

Bats/Throws: L/L

Height/Weight: 6’0”/192 lbs

Acquired: 3rd Rd ’07 (Wake Forest)

Born: 9/4/85 (Wyandotte, MI)

2009 Rank: NR

Why Ranked Here: I think Niesen was my worst miss in last year’s rankings.  I focused on his unimpressive 3.5 BB/9 and 5.87 K/9 in 2008 rather than his solid velocity.  (By the way, I missed him throw when I was in the FSL, and if you’re headed to Florida in July to see baseball, you need to allot about 8 days to see five games and the whole pitching staff.  But we digress…)  So Niesen cleaned up his act, threw more strikes in 2009 and worked his way to AA where he was lights out at the end of the year.  Niesen has above average velocity from the left side.  He’s a very thoughtful guy and at times seems to outthink himself.  He admits that he does better when he stays in the moment and has struggled to control focus in the past.  His curve was useful against minor leaguers but hardly a plus pitch.

2009: As a 23-year old, Niesen’s improvement in the FSL was nice, but hardly the thing that gets prospects noticed.  The way he ended the season by dominating AA hitters does get players noticed.  In his last seven starts for AA Binghamton, he was 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA over 41.1 IP , 29 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 1 HR, 15 BB, and 45 K!  Up, that’s a K/BB of 3 at AA.

Dr. Pangloss Says: Predicting Niesen is so hard, because he’s been so all over the place, but I know I like lefties with velocity.  I see him as a very good lefty reliever, but his late-season run in Binghamton might suggest that he can start in a big league rotation.

Debbie Downer Says: Eh, lets see him have more than two good months.  He’ll be an up-and-down guy who won’t stick in the big leagues.

Projected 2010 Start: Good question.  Western New York for sure.  Buffalo most likely, with Binghamton a 35% chance.  (Ok, I made that number up, but it feels reasonable).

MLB Arrival: Late 2011

W-L-S ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP BB/9 SO/9 K/BB HR/9 GB% R/9
07 NYP 0-3-0 3.3 9/9 30 30 19 11 1 25 27 .268 1.83 7.50 8.10 1.08 0.30 52% 5.70
08 FSL 6-12-0 4.64 26/24 118.1 136 75 61 10 46 77 .286 1.54 3.51 5.87 1.67 0.76 49% 5.72
09 FSL 3-4-0 3.28 11/11 57.2 52 25 21 5 16 49 .237 1.19 2.52 7.71 3.06 0.79 42% 3.93
09 EL 4-7-0 4.66 16/16 83 75 46 43 6 41 85 .246 1.40 4.45 9.22 2.07 0.65 37% 4.99

There are 3 comments

  1. NickM

    I think Niesen’s floor will be that of a LOOGY, at least.

    vs LH ’09 (cumulative): 34+ IP, .208 avg, 3.2 BB/9, 11.3 K/9, 50% GB rate.
    vs LH career: 75+ IP, .226 avg, 3.2 BB/9, 8.8 K/9, 58.6% GB rate.

    His career numbers vs RH are obviously less impressive but he did put up very solid numbers against them last year across A+ and AA, which certainly could make one envision him landing in a big league rotation or being a decent crossover reliever. His primary issue seems to be throwing strikes consistently, which to me, will end up determining where he winds up.

    How would a Mike Gonzalez comparison be?

  2. WC

    I’ve always held it in the back of my head that Niesen could be a bullpen sleeper.

    His run at the end of the year might give you pause as to converting him, but I really think he should be put in the Buffalo pen post-haste. Even if he keeps improving, what’s really his ceiling as a major league starter? Given the competition he’ll face in the next few years for that back of the rotation spot on the Mets, I think it makes more sense to work him into a bullpen role. His velocity could really play up in short stints, he could probably improve his control even more, and on a team that has Pedro Feliciano pitch in more than 50% of their games, gives minor league deals to Pat Misch, Jay Marshall, and anyone in the world named Takahashi… you’d have to think Niesen would have a pretty clear path to the big league bullpen if he thrived in that role. His ETA could be a lot sooner than later.

    Really think he’d bring higher and more immediate value to the mets if they made the transition now.

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