Pitchers are found everywhere on MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list. Players like, Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, Jon Gray, and Mark Appel are often over-hyped. But, one player that did not even crack the top ten right-handed pitchers list is outperforming them all. While the Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospect Jimmy Nelson is often overlooked, he has picked up right where he left off last season and is paving his way to Milwaukee.
Being left off the top ten pitching prospect list is not the only time that Nelson has gone unnoticed. After being drafted with the Brewers second pick of 2010, he was quickly passed by when the Brewers drafted pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradly with their first round picks the next year. Instead of being upset by being an overlooked prospect, Nelson outpitched his fellow teammates and was able to climb up two levels in both 2012 and 2013.
Although his 2012 was impressive, last year was the season that Nelson fully developed into a can’t-miss prospect. He began the year as the best pitcher on the loaded Huntsville Stars rotation. In 12 Stars starts, Nelson posted a 2.74 ERA and had a career best 4.80 strikeout to walk ratio. These fantastic numbers allowed Nelson to receive a mid-season promotion to AAA Nashville.
Despite the fact that his numbers were not as strong as they were in AA Nelson continued to succeed. In 15 starts, he kept a respectable 3.74 ERA and although his command was not as strong (1.82 strikeout to walk ratio) he still managed to strike-out 9.8 batters per nine innings.
After finishing the year in Milwaukee, Nelson was expected to compete for a rotation spot this year. But after the Brewers added Matt Garza to solidify the rotation, it became a forgone conclusion that Nelson would being the year in AAA. Here his numbers have been even better than his dominating 2013. Through nine starts (all of them quality), Nelson has a minuscule 1.71 ERA which is third best among AAA Pacific Coast League pitchers. His stuff has remained nasty as he has averaged exactly a strikeout per inning in his 58 innings pitched. With a 0.91 WHIP, base-runners are rarely found on base when he toes the rubber. All of these numbers are far and away better than his remarkable numbers he posted last year.
While the Milwaukee rotation is currently solid, Nelson remains waiting for a call to pitch in Miller Park. Even with these great numbers, he is still often passed by when analysts talk about up and coming pitchers. However, looking at every level it is hard to find a pitcher who has outperformed Nelson thus far this season. With cheap and young pitching more important than ever before, it is just a matter of time before Nelson is making his mark in Milwaukee.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference