Prospect Profile: Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson saw quite a bit of change in 2018, climbing his way through the Yankees’ farm system. The Panama City, Florida native originally turned down the San Francisco Giants when they drafted him in the 31st round of the 2014 draft. He opted instead to stay in his home state and attend Gulf Coast State Community College. The Yankees drafted Nelson in the fourth round of the 2016 draft and were able to sign him to a below-slot $350,000. The hard-throwing hurler has steadily made his way through the ranks and could make his way to the Bronx in the next couple years.
Name: Nick Nelson Birthdate: December 5, 1995 Position: Pitcher Bat/Throw: R/R Height: 6’1 Weight: 195
In his first year of professional baseball, Nelson found himself throwing for the Pulaski Yankees. He threw 21.1 innings and had a 3.38 ERA. He struck out 19 batters, but walked 22. Nelson was promoted to Low-A in 2017, throwing just over 100 innings with the Charleston RiverDogs. In 22 starts, Nelson went 3-12 and had a 4.56 ERA. Nelson struck out 110 batters and issued 50 walks, along with hitting twelve batters with pitches.
The Yankees sent Nelson back to Charleston to start this past season, where he made five starts before being sent up to Tampa. He had a 3.65 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .198 average in Charleston and continued to look strong in Tampa. He made eighteen appearances (seventeen starts) and had a 3.36 ERA. He struck out 99 batters and walked 47, holding the other teams to a .214 average. Nelson was called up one more time, making three starts for Trenton before 2018 ended. When the season was ended, Nelson had a combined 3.55 ERA and 144 Ks over 121.2 innings.
Nelson is a hard-throwing pitcher who had the best strikeout rate (10.7) in the Yankees farm system in 2018. He has a mid-90s four-seam fastball that he can utilize late in a game. He clearly gets a lot of strikeouts, but he also generates a lot of ground ball outs, too. Nelson has a hard curve that is a solid second plus pitch, however, he can’t always control it. Rounding out his repertoire, Nelson has a low-90s splitter and an 80s slider/cutter. These pitches have flashes of what they could be, but he really needs to work on his consistency with them.
Nelson is most likely headed back to Trenton for 2018, where he will need to fine tune his secondary pitches. He has gotten by with big strikeout numbers thus far in his career, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue that as he hits the higher levels. The Yankees continue to develop him as a starter, and given he is a strong, athletic pitcher, he certainly has the potential if he can find his consistency with those secondary pitches. Otherwise, he certainly could be a nice arm for the Yankees to call out of the bullpen in the next couple years.