Brewers Top 10 Prospects
By Drew Olsen
Age: 20. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HSAlgona, Iowa, 2001 (4th round). Signed by: Harvey Kuenn Jr./Larry Doughty.
Background: Nelson was considered one of the top high school power hitters in 2001, and he put on an impressive batting-practice display during a predraft workout for the Brewers. He also excelled at various talent showcases, even showing a low-90s fastball from the mound, but he nevertheless lasted until the fourth round of the draft. He failed to homer in 105 at-bats in Rookie ball that summer. Well, his adjustment to wood bats is over. A strong Iowa farmboy, Nelson led the minors with 49 doubles and 116 RBIs. He punished pitchers throughout the season, though he seemed to run out of gas a little after he was promoted to high Class A High Desert at age 19.
Strengths: Nelson is the best all-around hitter in the system. He has good actions at the plate and has earned comparisons to Sean Casey, though Nelson should hit for more power. Managers rated Nelson, and not Marlins slugger Jason Stokes, as the top power hitter in the low Class A Midwest League. While scouts disagreed, they said Nelson had better pop to the opposite field. Few players can drive the ball as far the other way as Nelson can. His willingness to use the entire field enabled him to put up a strong first full season despite his youth and experience against inferior high school competition. Nelsons arm remains strong and he has good hands, though each is less of an asset at first base than it was when he played third base as an amateur. Class A Beloit manager Don Money considered Nelson a favorite because of his attitude and work ethic.
Weaknesses: Pitchers will be loathe to challenge Nelson, so Money encouraged him to work the strike zone and take more walks. That lesson hasnt taken yet, at least not to the extent needed. Nelson lacks speed and range, which prompted his move from the hot corner and makes him no more than an ordinary defender. He has a thick body and will have to work to stay in shape, though no one questions his willingness to do so.
The Future: Nelson probably will return to the California League at the start of 2003 and could reach Miller Park as early as 2005. The big question is where hell fit into Milwaukees lineup. A move to left field could be in Nelsons future.
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