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