Height/Weight: 6’3”/210 lbs
Acquired: 3rd Rd 2008 (Azusa Pacific)
Born: 8/7/87 (Ripon, CA)
2009 Rank: 23
Why Ranked Here: Nieuwenhuis has a big league body, defensive chops in center and a well-rounded offensive game with some speed, patience and power. Much of his development in 2009 had to do with becoming more comfortable pulling the ball. In the early going, Nieuwenhuis began the season with St. Lucie with good opposite field power, but had trouble when pitchers worked him inside. By August, he was punishing them for coming inside to him, turning outs into basehits. Nieuwenhuis playd CF and RF for Brooklyn in ’08, but patrolled CF exclusively for St. Lucie in ’09. He has the speed and range to handle center now, but if he fills out as he ages, he will be forced to the corner.
2009: Kirk Nieuwenhuis was in the midst of a solid, but unspectacular campaign in the Florida State League in 2009 as July came to a close. Then, in the weeks leading up to his 22nd birthday in the first week of August, he ripped off a 15-game hitting streak. That led into a sensational August when he was one of the hottest hitters in all of the minor leagues raking to a .345/.406/.647 line with six homers in 27 games. In August, 21 of his 40 hits went for extra bases.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Niewenhuis stays in CF, and makes a few All-Star games.
Debbie Downer Says: With a K-rate above 20% in both the NYP and FSL, Nieuwenhuis won’t ever hit more than .270 in the big leagues. If he can’t play center everyday, he’s nothing more than a fourth OF.
Projected 2010 Start: Binghamton CF, looking to prove that his extraordinary conclusion to the ’09 season was no fluke.
MLB Arrival: 2011
Nieuwenhuis photo courtesy Jim Donten