Nidiffer making good on his chances
It was just a matter of time before Marcus Nidiffer earned a promotion. After leading the Houston Astros affiliate, Greeneville, of the rookie Appalachian League with 11 home runs, Nidiffer needed a new challenge. The former Kentucky Wildcat and Webster Yankee got his new assignment late last week. Judging by his early returns, Nidiffer is up to the task.
In just his second game in the Class A New York Penn League, Nidiffer went 3-4 with two home runs, a double and five RBI to lead the Tri-City Valleycats over Staten Island 11-2. Nidiffer has seven hits in six games with his new team. This after hitting .303 and slugging .588 in 48 contests with Greeneville.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ said Nidiffer of his success. â€œI guess the more at bats I get, the more comfortable I feel.â€
Nidifferâ€™s early professional accomplishments should come as no surprise.Â He hit .312 in 48 games for the Wildcats this past season with 10 round trippers and 32 RBI including a walk-off grand slam in his final home at-bat. Nidiffer started 121 games over the last three Kentucky campaigns hitting .284 with 25 home runs, 84 RBI and 91 runs scored. He finished his career at Kentucky with a .512 slugging percentage.
â€œItâ€™s kinda crazy,â€ joked Nidiffer. â€œIâ€™m glad to be here.â€
With the promotion, Nidiffer gets thrown into the middle of a pennant race. The Valleycats sit a game and a half back of the top spot in the NY-Pâ€™s Stedler division. Tri-City is battling Vermont and Connecticut for the post-season berth.
â€œThe word around the clubhouse is we gotta keep winning,â€ added Nidiffer. Tri-City got the right man for that goal. The Valleycats are 4-2 since Nidiffer was inserted into the lineup. â€œTheyâ€™re pretty serious up here,â€ said Nidiffer of the attendance at Joe Bruno Stadium on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College. â€œLast night we had more than 6,500.â€
Fans wishing to catch Nidiffer in action will need to act quickly. Tri-City has 16 more games before the regular season ends on Septmeber fifth at Brooklyn.
Nidiffer racked up a .987 fielding percentage behind the plate at Kentucky and earned a spot on the prestigious Johnny Bench award watch list for the top catcher in the nation.Â As a pro, Nidiffer is making a quick study playing first base.
â€œPicking balls out of the dirt comes pretty natural to me,â€ commented Nidiffer. â€œI need some work with ground balls, but I have time to block them and still make a play. The nice thing with first is playing every day.â€
Nidiffer recently learned of his fall assignment in the instructional league where the Astros will bring roughly 30 players to Kissimmee, Florida for a chance to continue working and playing against other organizations.
â€œThe championship is on the 14th and instruct starts five days later. Not many free agents get that chance. I am happy. Thatâ€™s a way to get extra looks and to know management is interested in you.â€
â€œIf they donâ€™t think much of you, they donâ€™t invite you,â€ said Webster Yankee Coach Dave Brust of the invite to fall league. â€œItâ€™s an investment.â€ Brust played three years in the Atlanta Braves system. Two of those years were spent as a Durham Bull under the coaching of former major league manager, Grady Little.
Nidiffer made 28 starts with the 2007 Webster Yankees. After a slow start, he finished with eight extra-base hits including three home runs and 12 RBI. This after a season in the SEC where the red-shirt freshman earned just six at-bats.
â€œLooking back, I played a lot in summer leagues,â€ said Nidiffer. â€œThat is where my game started to come together.â€
â€œKBâ€ played the Valley League in 2008 finishing as the leagueâ€™s 14th best prospect of the summer. He culminated his summer collegiate career playing with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League.
Nidifferâ€™s work is portrayed in the book Everybody On, Nobody Out which is now available at select Wegmanâ€™s stores in the Rochester area.