This is going to have to be quick.
You see, life gets in the way sometimes and in order to get this posted before midnight I’m forced to be brief.
We’re 52 days away from Opening Day and the man wearing #52 on his uniform is…
As the consensus top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, James Jacob Nelson has sped through the minor leagues in the way that the Brewers front office has hoped several of his contemporaries also would. Guys like Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley, hell, Eric Arnett, Mark Rogers, and many more.
Nelson was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 but chose to attend college at the University of Alabama. He developed into his six-and-a-half foot frame and dominated college hitters enough that the Brewers drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft. Nelson signed quickly and appeared in 12 games that year but didn’t start at all in part to limit his innings. He won two and pitched to a 3.71 ERA in over 26.2 innings.
In 2011, Nelson began the year as a full-time starter with the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He pitched all year at Class-A, making 25 starts out of 26 total appearances. He was developing nicely even though of the results weren’t the best. There are a lot of outside factors in the minors, and especially at the low minors. In other words, even though Nelson finished with a 4.38 ERA, his FIP was more than a half-run lower at 3.82. He was also hit with a .322 BABIP and the lowest strikeout percentage he’s posted still to this point in his young career.
Nelson began 2012 at Class-A Advanced Brevard County and was very good in 13 starts. He earned a promotion up to Class-AA Huntsville and was certainly respectable there to finish 2012.
It was 2013 that would see Nelson start in Huntsville, earn a promotion to Class-AAA Nashville, and then capitalize on that opportunity by earning a September call-up to the big leagues.
Nelson made one start as a Brewer along with three appearances out of the bullpen. In 10.0 innings of work, Nelson allowed just one earned run, struck out eight, though walked five. It was, of course, a painfully small sample size off of which to make any kind of projection.
The 2014 outlook for Nelson sees him starting the season at the front of Triple-A Nashville’s rotation, behind maybe only Tyler Thornburg. Some think he profiles as a relief pitcher down the road, but Nelson should be able to provide some years as a innings eating workhorse, if nothing else.
Be sure to keep tabs on his progress with Nashville this year. He’s certainly a guy that Ron Roenicke and Doug Melvin wouldn’t hesitate to call on if they need a spot start in Milwaukee and Nelson is rested.
Make no mistake though, 2014 is an important season in Nelson’s continuing development though. A full season at or above the Triple-A level will also give scouts and analysts a fuller picture of what kind of player he could prove to be.
You can follow Jimmy Nelson on Twitter: @Jimmy_J_Nelson
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Michael Blazek
- #58 Ariel Peña
- #59 Zach Duke
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez