Well that was fast, Andres Torres is heading to the DL and Kirk Nieuwenhuis is coming to the big leagues for Saturday’s game. I’ve been predicting repeatedly that Nieuwenhuis will spend the second half of the 2012 season in Queens. I did not expect to see him on April 7.
Nieuwenhuis is big, strong and runs well. He looked plenty rangy in centerfield in spring training. I suspect he won’t hit for a high average immediately, but he will draw walks and hit for power. As a 23-year old in AAA in 2011, he hit .298/.403/.505 with walks in 14.5% of his plate appearances. Nieuwenhuis has improved as he’s moved through the system too: in 2010, he combined to hit .274/.327/.475.
The minor league equivalency calculator puts Nieuwenhuis at .251/.339/.411 based on a translation from his 2011 line. That looks about right to me.
Moving back further, and I referenced this on the forth-coming Mostly Mets Podcast, Nieuwenhuis took a dramatic step forward in the 2009 season when he learned to turn on inside pitches and pull the baseball. He hit .345/.406/.647 in August 2009 in advanced-A and has never stopped hitting.
Dude can make adjustments. Enjoy.