Nieuwenhuis with the New York Mets
|Milwaukee Brewers – No. 10|
August 7, 1987 |
Santa Monica, California
|April 7, 2012, for the New York Mets|
|Runs batted in||72|
Kirk Robert Nieuwenhuis, also known sometimes as Captain Kirk or Nieuwy (born August 7, 1987) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Nieuwenhuis attended Denver Christian High School in Lakewood, Colorado where he played football, basketball and baseball. As a football player, Nieuwenhuis was an elsuive running back who led Denver Christian to a state championship and received scholarship offers from Colorado, Colorado State and Air Force. However, Nieuwenhuis feared that he lacked the size to succeed as a football player at the next level and that he would be converted to a wide receiver and made to redshirt as a freshman. He therefore decided to focus on baseball.
As a high school baseball player, Nieuwenhuis was a lightly recruited second baseman and pitcher whose fastball reached 90 miles per hour. Nieuwenhuis played three seasons of baseball at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. There he led the Cougars to back-to-back NAIA World Series appearances in 2007 and 2008 and set school career records in runs scored, with 190, and triples, with 12.
New York Mets
Nieuwenhuis was drafted by the New York Mets in the third round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft out of the Azusa Pacific University. In the minors, Nieuwenhuis primarily was a center fielder, and after hitting .298 in Triple-A Buffalo, Nieuwenhuis was added to the Mets 40 man roster on November 18, 2011. After performing well during his debut with the Mets, Nieuwenhuis garnered the moniker "Captain Kirk" from Mets fans, in reference to the fictional Captain Kirk from the 1960s television series Star Trek.
Nieuwenhuis began his professional career with the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York–Penn League, where he played 74 games and hit .277. Nieuwenhuis had 15 doubles, five triples and three home runs among 79 hits in 319 plate appearances. Following his first professional season, Nieuwenhuis continued to play well throughout the Mets' Minor League system. He played at every level, finishing the 2010 campaign at Triple-A Buffalo. In 2011, Nieuwenhuis was shut down with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. It cost him most of the second half of his season.
Nieuwenhuis was called up by the Mets on April 7, 2012, to replace the injured Andrés Torres. Nieuwenhuis got his first major hit, an infield hit, on the same day he was called up; Nieuwenhuis finished the day 2-4. On April 9, in only his second start and third major league game, Nieuwenhuis hit his first Major League home run against Nationals pitcher Edwin Jackson. On April 27, he hit a walk-off single against the Miami Marlins off of Marlins closer Heath Bell giving the Mets the series sweep against the Marlins.
Though he garnered early National League Rookie of the Year consideration for his .297 average, six home runs and superlative outfield defense through June 15, Nieuwenhuis batted .123 with one home run after that date, striking out in more than 44 percent of his plate appearances. By July 28, Nieuwenhuis was batting .252 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs and on July 30, he was optioned to the Mets Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, to make way for Mike Baxter and Jason Bay who were coming off of the disabled list. On August 6 while with Buffalo, Nieuwenhuis was diagnosed with a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot, which occurred while running down the first-base line just days after being optioned by the Mets. He reported to Port St. Lucie for rehab, then on August 22, he was shut down for the rest of the season to heal his foot. Through 91 games and 282 at bats, Niewenhuis was batting .252 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs, while playing the outfield for the Mets.
In late April, Nieuwenhuis was demoted to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons after hitting 2 for 16 for the Mets in April. However, he was called back up to the Mets to take Rick Ankiel's spot on the roster. Nieuwenhuis had been hitting .232 at Triple-A before his promotion.
On June 10, 2013, Nieuwenhuis was again called up to the Mets playing center field.
Nieuwenhuis played in 61 games with the Mets in 2014. Over 112 at-bats he hit .259 with an .828 OPS and three home runs.
Nieuwenhuis was designated for assignment on May 19, 2015.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Second stint with the New York Mets
Nieuwenhuis was claimed by the New York Mets 17 days after the Mets traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Nieuwenhuis was sent to the Las Vegas 51s and was later promoted back to the New York Mets on July 6, 2015.
On July 12, 2015, he hit three home runs in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was the first player to accomplish this at Citi Field. He is the tenth player in franchise history to hit three home runs in one game and the first to do so in a Mets' home game. When interviewed after his exceptional game that day, Kirk commented in response to his critics: "there's more to life than baseball". On July 29, Lucas Duda joined Nieuwenhuis as the second Met to accomplish the feat at home.
On September 8, 2015, Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead home run of Jonathon Papelbon of the Nationals, breaking an eighth inning tie and handing the Mets an 8-7 win, a game in which the Mets had once trailed 7-1. After their third consecutive comeback win the next day, the Mets swept the Nats, moving themselves to 7.0 games ahead in the NL East.
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- Puma, Mike (August 23, 2012). "McHugh set for big-league debut". nypost.com. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
- "Former Foxes outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis recalled by the New York Mets". The Coloradoan. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Mets bring up Ceciliani and cut Nieuwenhuis". ESPN.com. Associated Press. May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
- "Angels acquire outfielder Nieuwenhuis from NY Mets". ESPN.com. Associated Press. May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
- Fletcher, Jeff (June 10, 2015). "Angels Notes: Kirk Nieuwenhuis designated for assignment". Orange County Register. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
- DiComo, Anthony (June 13, 2015). "Mets bring Nieuwenhuis back with waiver claim". MLB.com. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
- Trezza, Joe. "Nieuwenhuis makes Mets history with 3 HRs". mets.mlb.com. New York Mets. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "Kirk Nieuwenhuis' first 3 homers of season carry Mets to win". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- Fox Sports. "Brewers claim Nieuwenhuis, Pinto, Wilkins off waivers". FOX Sports. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
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