Brandon Nimmo's journey to professional baseball has not followed a conventional path.
There was no three or four year stint at a major university playing collegiate ball. There was not even a four-year career in high school.
Nimmo, the St. Lucie Mets center fielder and one of the top prospects in the New York Mets system, grew up playing baseball in Wyoming where there is no high school baseball. Instead, he played American Legion baseball and had to bring his A game when playing in the biggest amateur showcase events around the country.
But the lack of college ball and even the absence high school baseball didn't deter scouts from realizing just how special a player Nimmo was becoming at a young age. The New York Mets certainly understood, so much so that they gambled on Nimmo by using the 13th overall pick on him in the 2011 draft.
Nimmo passed on playing at the University of Arkansas and signed with the Mets.
"It's pretty fun to think back on," Nimmo said. "We thought that might be the first spot I'd be taken. My whole family was watching. My brother was watching on Skype and his TV must've been faster because we heard him screaming first. I was thinking 'No way.' Then my name flashed across the screen. It was pretty cool, a fun celebration. It was like winning the biggest game of your life."
So far, Nimmo has been everything the Mets could have hoped for. In 2013 he completed his first year of full season baseball by playing in 110 game for the Savannah Sand Gnats. Nimmo showed a winning pedigree and help Savannah with the South Atlantic League championship.
The Mets saw enough out of Nimmo last year and in spring training to start him in St. Lucie. It's a big test for the 21-year-old, considering that the pitching-friendly Florida State League is tough on hitters with its big ballparks, humid weather and advanced pitchers.
"They said it's a pitcher's league, nobody hits in that league and the only good thing about it is there are some good ballparks and there's no travel," Nimmo said. "Everybody was preparing me for not being able to hit too much."
Nimmo did not get the message. In the early going, he has exceeded expectations. In fact, Nimmo has proven to be one of the best hitters in the league. Through his first 15 games, Nimmo was batting .407, the best in the FSL. Almost from Day 1 he's led the FSL in runs scored.
"It's been nice to get off to a hot start," Nimmo said. "There are going to be ups and downs throughout the season but I think I've played well. I knew that I put in a lot of preparation. Going into Major League camp, I think that's where I surprised myself more. When I went into Major League camp I found a lot of success there. That gave me some confidence going into the Florida State League."
Only the Mets know how long they plan to keep Nimmo in St. Lucie. Will they keep him here all year like they kept him in Savannah during the entire 2013 season? Will they wait to see how he responds when the Florida summer becomes brutally hot and humid? Or will they be forced to send him on to Double-A Binghamton because he is just too good to hold back?
Nimmo hasn't thought about it. His main concern is just being the best baseball player he can be. He doesn't monitor his stats and is taking a humble approach to the game.
"I'm keeping my nose to the ground and working hard," Nimmo said. "I just want to go out there and do my best. I feel like I have a lot of room for improvement too."
While Nimmo is here he is enjoying his time in Port St. Lucie. Nimmo said on the few off days he has, he can be found fishing for bass in one of the city's many available bodies of water. He's also taken a like to the local cuisine, especially 11th Maple Street and Peter's Steak House in Jensen Beach and Cornerstone Bistro in St. Lucie.
"People here have a nice presence about them," Nimmo said. "Everybody is friendly. That's kind of like where I grew up in Wyoming. Everyone has manners and is welcoming. I like that kind of atmosphere."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.