Nasim Nunez is an elite defensive shortstop and one of the best in this year’s prep class.
The Georgia native is a Clemson commit and a well-regarded prospect for June’s MLB draft. Professional scouts consider Nunez as a potential early-round selection and someone who could squeeze into the backend of the first round.
“It’s amazing,” Nunez said. “It’s a dream come true. A lot of kids dream about being a professional athlete and you think about it and you don’t want to take it for granted because you don’t know when it could be your last game.”
Nunez is an advanced defensive player. He has above-average arm strength, impressive range and quick feet that will allow him to stick at shortstop long term.
He credits the development of his defensive skills to his mindset and work ethic.
“Just knowing what to do with the ball and making those plays that other people don’t make are my biggest strengths,” Nunez said.
Although he’s an elite defender, pro scouts question his hitting ability. The switch-hitter is more comfortable from the right side of the plate and is a gap-to-gap hitter, possessing limited power. He also has above-average speed, which he uses to beat out bunt base hits and on the bases with stealing bases.
Nunez, who originally was only a right-handed hitter, started switch-hitting as a high school junior last year. He felt with his speed that batting from the left side would allow him to get down the first base line quicker.
“I want to work on getting stronger on my left side,” Nunez said. “I want to almost perfect it and get it as good or even better as my right side.”
Becoming a switch-hitter was an adjustment. He said he has always read the ball well out of right-handed pitchers’ hands but it took time for him to develop a comfort level with his left-handed swing. It’s something he’s gaining more confidence in as he continues to do it, though.
“It was hard playing at the top level in your class and seeing 94 (mph) and good curveballs, especially when you haven’t even had a year under your belt,” Nunez said. “I just had to keep that mindset that I’m going to do it and keep doing it and that I’ll perfect it.”
Nunez knows he will have to make a difficult decision about his future in less than two months. He will have a chance to embark on a pro career and bypass his commitment to Clemson. But he said he’s trying to focus on the present and not stress about what’s next in his baseball career.
“You just have to ask questions and get help and have fun and compete your hardest,” Nunez said. “If you love the game, you love the game win or lose. You just have to play as hard as you can until you can’t play anymore.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.