Nelson played both ways in junior college before the Yankees took him in 2016’s fourth round and converted him to the mound full-time. Considering his lack of time spent focusing solely on pitching, Nelson has moved quickly through the system and was a pleasant surprise in 2018. A strong-bodied righty who isn’t very tall, he generates plus velocity (touching 98 mph at best, sitting 94-to-96 mph) from core muscles and efficient mechanics. A high-70s curveball shows sharp bite and tight two-plane depth at best, though he struggles to keep the pitch for strikes right now. His 86-to-89 mph changeup is thrown too hard but shows promising armside dive at best.
Nelson will be 23 in 2019, but there’s more room to project than most pitchers his age given the relative lack of experience. He will need to sharpen his control and cut down the walks to profile as a starter, where his three-pitch mix gives the best-case ceiling of a power back-rotation type. It’s easy to see Nelson in a bullpen role if he needs a long-term fallback.