Jimmy Nelson Scouting Report (2014)
Jimmy Nelson has been dominant in Triple-A this season. Through nine starts, his 58/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 58 innings is the sign of a pitcher being MLB ready. Even more insightful is the fact Nelson has allowed just 38 hits — a sign of dominance. Having scouted the Brewers’ prospect as a Double-A pitcher in 2o13, a chance to update the scouting profile was welcomed. And with the Oscar Taveras led Memphis Redbirds visiting the Nashville Sounds, the series proved worth the four hour drive and overnight stay.
Listed a 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, Nelson’s frame screams workhorse starting pitcher. His body has matured too as the right-hander’s mid-section has slimmed, leaving Nelson well-proportioned throughout. In addition to intimidating size, Jimmy Nelson is aggressive in attacking opposing hitters. Much like his impressive strikeout of Yasiel Puig a year earlier, the top-100 prospect came out firing against a lineup including Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and the aforementioned Taveras. The result was six innings of one run baseball including six strikeouts and seven ground outs.
In a year, Jimmy Nelson’s fastball velocity hasn’t changed. What has is the amount of arm effort needed to create velocity. In this outing, Nelson appeared to be playing catch with the mitt at 92-94 MPH. Instead of attempting to overpower opposing hitters, he utilized natural tail and a touch of sink to miss barrels, snapping the slider off for strikeouts as the opportunity presented itself. It was a more workmanlike performance than 2013, but in the best of ways. Today, Nelson is a better pitcher than the player scouted a year earlier and is adding the final touches of what promises to be a productive MLB career.
Nelson’s 84-85 MPH slider featured 11/3 break and is still considered an out pitch for the right-hander. Able to run it down and away from right-handed hitters, Nelson also showed the ability to start the pitch middle in in an attempt to saw off the barrel of lefties. Sharp, late break will create its share of ground ball outs and swings-and-misses at the Major League level. With improved fastball command, the top prospect threw the slider less than last season, mixing in more two-seam fastballs and change-ups. At the same stages in development, Nelson has better pure stuff than Wily Peralta, arguably the Brewers best young pitcher.
The most surprising aspect of Nelson’s start was his reliance on a change-up as a third pitch. At 85 MPH, the pitch was 7-9 MPH slower than the fastball. Admittedly, his change-up is flat, but featured identical arm action to the fastball. It’s peak projection is fringe average, but it’s a step up from the two pitch prospect Nelson presented as in 2013.
Pitching in the Brewers organization, Jimmy Nelson is overlooked compared to other top pitching prospects. Yes, he made the top-100 prospects, but with little fanfare. After presenting a second time as a top prospect arm, the right-hander deserves more attention. Admittedly, Milwaukee has an underrated starting five leaving Nelson without a clear path to playing time. In the event of an injury, Nelson probably won’t be the first pitcher called up given Mike Fiers and his 72/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Already 29, the cutter specialist is a fungible asset and it makes sense to save Nelson’s time clock. If anything, a late season bullpen role may be in the cards for the Brewers as they make a playoff push. Whatever happens, patience will be rewarded as Nelson projects as a solid third starter for a playoff contender.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 3 Starter On First Division Team Fastball 55 60 Slider 60 65 Changeup 40 45 Control 50 55 Command 45 50
Owning Jimmy Nelson
Pitching prospects are a troubling commodity. Between injuries and so many prospect projecting as third starters (Nelson included), it makes sense to stock up on arms and deal them for assets on the offensive side. Jimmy Nelson included — even though he’s a quality pitching prospect. If determined to hoard pitching prospects (many fantasy baseball owners are), then he’s a strong stash given his floor is an eighth inning reliever. Plus, a pitcher who’s self-aware and learning how to maximize effort has a much better chance to stick in a Major League rotation. Jimmy Nelson is learning and improving.
25 May 2014 / Mike Newman /
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