Jimmy Nelson (RHP)
Profile: With rosters expanding September 1st, the Brewers announced a handful of promotions, including the call-up of top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson from Triple-A Nashville. Milwaukee selected Nelson in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft and he made his pro debut with Helena that same season. The University of Alabama product made 12 appearances for Helena, all in relief, going 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA.
Nelson advanced to Low-A Wisconsin in 2011 and struggled early on before pulling things together and showing his true potential as the season progressed. He finished the 2011 campaign with a record of 8-9 and an ERA of 4.38 in 26 games, 25 of which were starts for the Timber Rattlers.
Many started to take notice of the 6’6″ righty in 2012 after he got off to a fantastic start at High-A Brevard County. Nelson went 4-4 in 13 starts for the Manatees, posting a 2.21 ERA and striking out 77 batters in 81.1 innings of work, earning a promotion to Double-A Huntsville. His success continued as he made the always difficult jump to Double-A, putting up a 3.91 ERA in 10 starts and striking out 42 batters in 46 innings for the Stars.
Nelson returned to Huntsville to begin 2013, but quickly showed he was ready to take the next step, racking up 72 punch-outs in 69 innings and allowing just 21 earned runs over 12 starts. Milwaukee recognized Nelson’s dominance and promoted him to Triple-A Nashville in June. He made 15 starts for the Sounds, accumulating another 91 strikeouts in 83.1 innings, while also being named to represent the Brewers in the Futures Game.
Strengths: Nelson’s fastball sits in the mid-90’s and will occasionally top out around 96-97 mph. He throws a fastball, slider, curve and changeup. His best pitch is a two-seam fastball with sink that he throws in the low 90’s, inducing a lot of ground balls and strikeouts. Throughout his career he’s done a good job of working that pitch down in the zone and the late life he shows on his fastball keeps hitters from squaring him up. Nelson is a competitor with a workhorse mentality. He has the frame to be a power starter with the potential to be an innings eater.
Weaknesses: Nelson’s off-spead pitches are still a work in progress. He throws a slider that is improving and a serviceable changeup that some scouts have refered to as just an average pitch. Being a power pitcher who will strike out batters, Nelson’s pitch counts can naturally get high, which could prevent him from working late in to games at times.
The Future: The Brewers have said Nelson will pitch out of the bullpen in September, as he has already racked up a career high 152.1 innings this season. He could be in line to grab a rotation spot next season and will likely get a good long look in Spring Training. Nelson throws harder than pitchers such as Mike Fiers, Hiram Burgos and Donovan Hand; and with more control than a pitcher like Johnny Hellweg. He’s at the head of the class when it comes to Brewers pitching prospects and figures to be a key member of Milwaukee’s rotation in the coming years.