Friday, January 22, 2010

The Crystal Ball '10: Nolan Reimold

Nolan Reimold was not supposed to be in Baltimore in 2009.

Injuries had limited his 2007 campaign to 53 games and in 2008 he was going to have to repeat AA. Baltimore seemed a long way off.

But Reimold got back on track as he put in a full healthy season in Bowie posting a .284/.367/.501 in 2008. Norfolk was in his sights but few expected him in Baltimore until September.  Reimold changed all that by destroying International League pitching to the tune of a .384/.485/.743 line in 31 games for Norfolk. His hot bat and untimely injuries to Adam Jones and Luke Scott garnered Reimold a recall in mid-May. His .279/.365/.466 line (including 15 homers) in Baltimore made sure he stayed. He was a breath of fresh air in left field given the crew that manned that position in the pre-Luke Scott era.

I was a little surprised that he got on base and slugged as well as he did since he was less than a year removed from AA but given his minor league track record maybe I shouldn't have been. All he has done in the minors is get on base (.383 OBP in minor league career) and hit for power (.522 SLG in the minors).

If he can play all season, he should OPS north of .850 with 25 home runs. The only Achilles' Heel is...his Achilles Tendon. Reimold had a surgery for an Achilles tendon tear in the offseason and although he indicated at the Sarasota FanFest that he would be ready for 2010, Roch Kubatko reported last week that:

Nolan Reimold isn't certain that he'll be full-go when he reports to spring training next month. He still hasn't done any sprints since undergoing surgery on his left Achilles on Sept. 23.

Achilles tendon injuries are tricky and they can take longer to fully heal than you might expect. Acceleration is the enemy of a healing Achilles and it is a bit odd that Dave Trembley seems to be assuming that Reimold will be able to play left field from day one.

So, it boils down to health. If Reimold is fully recovered from the surgery, we can expect big things. If not, we always have Felix Pie and Luke Scott on the roster.

Photo by Keith Allison and used under the Creative Commons License 2.0

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