With the recent signing of Matt Garza, the Milwaukee Brewers‘ starting rotation is loaded heading into the 2014 season. One guy expected to be pitching alongside Garza sooner than later is Brewers’ top prospect Jimmy Nelson.
Nelson was drafted in the second round out of the University of Alabama in the 2010 draft. Standing at nearly 6-foot-6 and weighing 245 pounds, Nelson is built to be a workhorse. He presents a four-seam fastball that can eclipse 95 mph with ease, but Nelson primarily uses his 92-94 mph sinking two-seam fastball to get outs. He takes advantage of that tall frame of his to work downhill and his easy velocity allows him to consistently work deep into games.
Nelson creates havoc to right-handed hitters with his hard, sharp slider that sits in the 85-88 mph range. Just ask Yasiel Puig, who Nelson made look foolish in a minor league game when they squared off early last season. “You can’t be intimidated or scared by good hitters,” Nelson said. “As soon as you fall behind a guy like [Puig], he’s likely to square something up pretty good. You have to pitch to your strengths.” Nelson also displays a change-up that scouts say it can be a very effective pitch for the 24 year old at the major league level.
The Brewers have a deep rotation behind Garza, Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse, with a handful of guys more than capable of manning the final two spots in the rotation. Wily Peralta is virtually a lock to make the rotation, which leaves Tyler Thornburg, Marco Estrada, Will Smith and Nelson competing for the last spot. With a few teams interested in Gallardo, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks, don’t be surprised if the Brewers move him to open the door for Nelson to join the rotation.
The Brewers have been known for producing homegrown sluggers, but the tide is beginning to turn now that they have some very electric arms surfacing through their system. Just like Peralta and Thornburg, Nelson will wait for his name to be called.