Seth Williams | Miller Park Prospects
The 2016 baseball season didn’t quite go to plan for 20-year-old outfielder Nic Pierre, but if the past few weeks are any indication, the Dominican-born Pierre has put that all in his rearview mirror as he continues to impress for the Helena Brewers this season.
After struggling so badly in the Arizona League last year that the Brewers opted to send him down to the Dominican Summer League to finish out the season, some had written off the six-foot-three outfielder, who carried a career average of just .235 through his first three professional campaigns.
Originally signed by Milwaukee as a sixteen-year-old, during the July 2nd signing period in 2013, Pierre made his Brewers’ debut in the Dominican Summer League a year later, and put up decent numbers in 60 games. He posted an OPS of .715 with 22 of his 65 hits going for extra-bases, including six home runs, and the Brewers chose to bring him stateside for the 2015 season.
Pierre had a tough time with the transition, and saw his OPS drop to .461 in 40 games for the AZL Brewers, and things didn’t get much better in a repeat year in Maryvale in 2016, prompting the move back to the Dominican late in the year.
The decision to move a Latin American player back down to the Dominican Republic to get work in a more comfortable setting for them, is one that the Brewers have used before with success. Most notably, when they did so with pitcher Jorge Lopez, who responded by jumping all the way to single-A Wisconsin upon his return to the U.S. And so far in 2017, the move appears to be paying similar dividends for the Brewers and Pierre.
A toolsy outfielder who is an above average outfielder with plus speed, Pierre has good size and has shown the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. An aggressive hitter, who sometimes gets himself into trouble with a lack of patience, Pierre has good bat-to-ball skills and many feel he could produce decent power numbers as his body fills out.
Pierre returned stateside this spring, and after spending some time in Maryvale with Milwaukee’s Extended Spring Training team, he joined Helena when the Pioneer League season got underway in June.
He came out of the gates strong, and has hit safely in 13 of the 17 Pioneer League games he has played in, including a remarkable nine-game hitting streak, in which he has collected two hits in each and every game. His ten multi-hit games are tops on the Helena roster and he’s become a key contributor in their outfield, putting his name back on the prospect radar.
HELENA GAME NOTES: SUNDAY, JULY 23RD
⦿ Rightfielder Yeraldy Martinez reached base three times in five trips to the plate, collecting two singles, while also hitting his fourth home run of the season. The 21-year-old Dominican has hit safely in seven of his last ten games, boosting his OPS to .688
⦿ Jay Feliciano belted his fifth homer of the year as part of a two-hit game and drove in three runs. He also saw action at first base for the first time in 2017. Feliciano saw limited time at first in the Dominican Summer League and the AZL last season, but had played strictly outfield so far this year.
⦿ Catcher Payton Henry also homered for Helena while drawing three walks. The 2016 sixth-round pick boosted his on-base percentage to .361 while raising his OPS to .822 through 25 ballgames.
⦿ Designated hitter KJ Harrison walked twice and was hit by a pitch, marking the third time this series that the former Oregon State Beaver has been plunked. After reaching base three times in five trips to the plate, Harrison bumped his on base percentage for the season to .489.
⦿ Starting pitcher Nelson Hernandez surrendered four runs over five innings of work and improved his record to 5-0 on the season. Hernandez has proven to be one of Helena’s most reliable starters in 2017, going at least five innings in each of his seven starts.