Growing up in Cheyenne, Wyo., Brandon Nimmo's path to professional baseball featured a few hurdles his counterparts in California, Florida and Texas never had to leap.
Most of all, what challenged Nimmo initially in pro ball was consistency -- facing 90-mph fastballs on a nightly basis. Nearly two years removed from his selection in the first round (13th overall) by the Mets in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the 20-year-old outfielder is feeling like he's closed the gap.
It showed Monday as the Mets' No. 4 prospect homered and drove in five runs on three hits in Class A Savannah's 8-5 win over Greensboro.
The performance bumped his season average to .429, tops in the South Atlantic League. The multi-hit effort was his sixth in 11 games, and his five walks have his on-base percentage up to .511.
The plate discipline is not new for Nimmo, who walked 46 times in 69 New York-Penn League games with short-season Brooklyn in 2012. The patience lifted his on-base percentage to .372, despite a .248 batting average, which surely pleased sabermetric-minded Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
The results were particularly encouraging because of Nimmo's background. There is no high school baseball in Wyoming, so the bulk of his teenage experience came through American Legion.
"In Legion ball, you'd face a good pitcher maybe every fifth day or so," Nimmo said. "In the New York-Penn League, I just skipped a whole bunch of levels and was facing great guys all the time. You can't take any at-bats off. It took time to learn how to approach the game and how to be at 100 percent or close to 100 percent every day, mentally and physically."
Nimmo's successful on-field adjustments might not have been entirely surprising. The center fielder has long shown a good feel for the game, and even if his experience in Legion ball had limitations, he was still playing 75 to 80 games a year and performing well in national showcases against some of the country's top amateur talent.
The bigger question, perhaps most especially to Nimmo, was how he'd handle moving from a state with a little over 500,000 people to Brooklyn, N.Y., where over 2.5 million people cram into roughly 70 square miles.
"It was obviously a huge change for me, living that kind of lifestyle," he said. "I was used to being able to see for 40 miles out over the horizon. In Brooklyn, I could see about 40 feet."
Nimmo challenged himself to learn from the experience. Now in Savannah, Ga., all of that preparation has guided the left-handed hitter to a strong start in the Sally League.
On Monday, Nimmo singled in each of his first two at-bats against Greensboro starter Scott Lyman. First, Lyman fell behind and delivered a hittable fastball to the leadoff hitter. Nimmo ripped a grounder through the hole between first and second base.
Lyman came back at Nimmo with off-speed offerings the next time. The Sand Gnat took a changeup for a strike, watched a curveball out of the zone, then timed a changeup perfectly for a sharp base hit to left.
In the third at-bat, Lyman went at Nimmo with a fastball, and the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder crushed it over the wall in right-center field for a three-run jack, his first homer of the year.
"I was looking for a good pitch to hit, and I got a fastball inside and drove it well," he said. "It felt really good. Even in my fourth at-bat, I hit the ball pretty well. I was staying on the ball, seeing it well tonight. You just enjoy these nights."