By JAY LeBLANC
June 30, 2008
There’s no question that Baltimore Orioles prospect Nolan Reimold can play. The 6’ 4”, 207 pound outfielder has hit at every level since he was drafted in the second round out of Bowling Green in 2005 and is the Baltimore organization’s best power hitter and the owner of its best outfield arm. The only thing that has held Reimold back has been his inability to stay on the field. He struggled somewhat as he battled nagging foot and back injuries in 2006 and was limited to just 59 games last season due to an oblique strain.
Reimold is finally healthy this season, and is showing why he’s ranked by Baseball America as the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect. After a slow start - he hit just .232 with two home runs and seven RBI in April - he’s raised his average to .275 to go along with with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 37 RBI as a member of Baltimore’s double-A Eastern League affiliate, the Bowie Baysox. He’s also shown improved plate discipline, with 36 walks offsetting his 42 strikeouts in 302 at bats. With little left to prove in the minors, Reimold figures to be the first player called upon if the Orioles find themselves in need of an outfielder, or just another power bat in the lineup. I recently had a chance to speak with the 24-year-old:
Q: You’ve really come on lately after a slow start. What kinds of adjustments did you make?
A: I’ve been working on my load, my stance, and stuff like that, and it took me a little while to get comfortable with it. It’s working out for me lately, but I’m just looking to improve from month to month, and by the end of the year, I’ll be where I want to be.
Q: Were you surprised that the O’s had you start the year in double-A after the success you had here last year?
A: No, not really. I only played 50 games or whatever it was, and I don’t know how much difference there is between double-A and triple-A - obviously I’ve never played triple-A, but this is a real strong league, so no matter where I’m at, I’ll get my at bats and just try to work on things I need to work on.
Q: Is there any player, past or present, that you’ve tried to model your approach after?
A: Honestly, no, not really. I mean, I watch a lot of guys, watch TV, watch the big leaguers hit and stuff but there’s nobody in particular - anybody that hits well, I guess. (Laughs)
Q: Could you describe your approach at the plate? Do you come into an at bat looking for a specific pitch, or do you just react to what’s thrown?
A: You know, it depends on the pitcher. Early in the game when nobody’s on, normally you just look fastball and react to anything off-speed, but in different situations you look for different pitches and stuff. If there’s a guy on second with less than two outs, you try to move the runner and stuff like that, and that’s a big thing - they look at that a lot, so I’m trying to improve on that kind of stuff.
Q: To what extent do you utilize videotape and scouting reports when preparing to face a certain pitcher?
A: Earlier in the year I utilized video and watched how horrible my swing was (Laughs). I made some adjustments off of that, and that helped me out a lot, to see what I was doing. We never watch pitchers on videotape or anything like that - that’s all just memory, but the more you see them, the easier it is to hit off them.
Q: What are some of the aspects of your game that you’re trying to improve upon this year?
A: You know, I’m just trying to put the ball in play more, trying to strike out less. With the new approach that I was struggling with early in the year, it’s helped me out with that a lot. But you know, I just want to keep improving.
Q: You’ve battled a lot of injuries as a pro. Are you doing anything differently in conditioning to try to stay on the field?
A: I have been working out a lot, trying to maintain flexibility and that kind of thing. That’s a big thing for not being injured, I guess. Other than that, there’s not too much I could have done, I guess. I just had some bad luck in the past, but I’m doing everything I can to try to stay on the field.
Q: When do you think you’ll be ready to help the big league club?
A: I guess that’s up to them. I just want to come out and keep getting better from month to month and if they think I’m ready to help them out, then I’m ready.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and Mayor of the National Pastime web community. His Prospect Q&A column runs every Monday and Thursday throughout the season. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo by Amanda Rice
Be sure to check out our previous National Pastime Prospect Q&A’s: Matt Wieters, Orioles; Ross Detwiler, Nationals; Adrian Alaniz, Nationals; Jake Arrieta, Orioles; Greg Golson, Phillies; John Shelby III, White Sox; Brandon Erbe, Orioles; Chris Marrero, Nationals; Jason Donald, Phillies; John Ely, White Sox.