Kirk Nieuwenhuis comes in at #6 on our list. He has been on the rise since the middle of 2009 when he first started showcasing the caliber of bat he carries with him today. Nieuwenhuis has hit 35 homeruns and 81 doubles over the course of the past two years, showcasing legitimate power to go along with strong defense and a quality outfield arm. The question has always been, is his defense strong enough, specifically his range, to play centerfield everyday, especially in a spacious park like Citi Field. If he proves his can, he has great value, otherwise he will have to showcase even more power than he has shown already to be a viable corner outfielder on a competitive team. Another concern facing Nieuwenhuis are his troubles against left-handed pitching. Still, even if he falls short of answering all those questions, he has great tools and should become a great fourth outfielder, if not a player that could platoon at any of the outfield positions. In any event, there is a lot to look forward to for Mets fans when it comes to Nieuwenhuis, and any number of ways in which he will be able to make an impact in the major leagues.
Nieuwenhuis wrapped up his 2010 regular season with 30 games at AAA Buffalo, hitting just .225, but with 11 extra-base hits. He played 26 more games in the Arizona Fall League, playing against other elite prospects and collecting eight more extra-base hits. That experience against high-level competition was good for his development, but his performance is not indicative of a guy who has a good chance of breaking camp with the major league club. Thus Nieuwenhuis should start the season back in Buffalo, but as long as he doesn’t get off to a slow start, he will likely be first in line if the Mets need an outfielder later in the season.