Nelson was drafted by the Yankees in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. After starting the season on the IL and making one tune-up start in High-A, the 23-year old is back in Double-A, where he made three starts at the end of last year. So far with Trenton, Nelson has thrown 13.1 innings over three starts, with a K/BB ratio of 16/11. I saw him pitch on June 7 against Erie.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, the right-hander is solidly built without much more room for physical projection. Nelson’s delivery is simple with a slight hesitation before his front foot lands. The 23-year-old worked in the 94-to-96 mph range with his fastball early in the outing, dropping to 92-93 mph around the 65 pitch mark. His fastball was able to jam righty hitters due to its late two-seam action, though Nelson had more trouble commanding the heater across the plate to his gloveside. His curveball sat 78-to-80 mph and flashed average, but was mostly used as a get-me-over offering. The young pitcher’s best off-speed pitch was his splitter. He had confidence to throw it for a strike when behind in the count and also used it to put hitters away with two strikes. The pitch ranged from 85-to-89 mph and exhibited plus downward action, which resulted in weak roll-overs and whiffs. Nelson showed an acumen to pitch backwards, but he struggled to land his off-speed and often fell behind in counts.
In order to remain in the rotation, Nelson will need to sharpen his overall control and command. His arsenal has both the depth and quality to start—giving the upside of a #4/#5 type—but he’ll move to a relief role if those aspects can’t improve. In a short-stint role, Nelson might be a setup reliever or solid middle innings type.