- Full name James Ryan Nelson
- Born 10/18/1997 in Rex, GA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 180 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Cisco JC
- Drafted in the 15th round (443rd overall) by the Miami Marlins in 2016 (signed for $75,000).
Organization Prospect Rankings
Track Record: An 18th-round pick by the Red Sox out of high school, Nelson instead attended Cisco (Texas) JC for one year before the Marlins signed him for $75,000 as a 15th-round pick in 2016. Nelson had a breakout season at low Class A Greensboro in 2017, winning the organization's minor league player of the year award before dealing with nagging injuries with high Class A Jupiter in 2018.
Scouting Report: Nelson has always shown excellent bat speed and the ability to keep his barrel in the zone for an extended period of time, but his strikeout rate increased to a career-worst 26.1 percent in 2018. Most of his struggles can be attributed to a still-evolving approach at the plate, which could use some additional maturation. Nelson has above-average power that should continue to improve as he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame. He's an above-average runner underway, and shows good range at third base as a former high school shortstop, but he will likely never be much of a stolen base threat. Defensively, Nelson has all the tools necessary, including an above-average arm, to be an above-average third baseman.
The Future: The Marlins still view Nelson as an everyday third baseman, although he'll return to high Class A Jupiter in 2019 to prove that he's fully recovered from knee and hamstring injuries.
An 18th-round pick out of high school by the Red Sox in 2015, Nelson didn't sign and instead went to Cisco (Texas) JC for one season before signing with the Marlins as a 15th-round pick in 2016. Nelson is the nephew of 2004 first-round pick and ex-big leaguer Chris Nelson and spent the entire 2017 season at low Class A Greensboro. Nelson has tremendous bat speed and keeps his bat through the hitting zone, which has helped him hit an impressive 41 doubles in 145 career games. His approach at the plate is still evolving and needs maturing, but that is largely to be expected from a 19-year old in his first full season. His bat speed suggests above-average power, especially as he continues to fill out his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and those doubles should eventually turn into home runs. Nelson displays average or better speed but isn't a stolen base threat. A shortstop in high school, Nelson made a smooth move to third base and showcases the tools necessary to be an above-average defender there. He has good range and at least above-average arm strength, but has been error-prone with a .907 fielding percentage. Described as having an above-average baseball IQ, Nelson should continue his steady ascent at high Class A Jupiter. He profiles as an everyday third baseman in two or three years.
The Red Sox drafted Nelson in the 18th round out of a Georgia high school but the sides couldn't match up, so he headed to Cisco (Texas) JC for a season. The Marlins signed the nephew of 2004 first-rounder and ex-big leaguer Chris Nelson for $75,000 in June. A shortstop in high school, the Marlins placed Nelson at third base and saw him make 12 errors in 40 games. A scout who saw him said despite the errors, Nelson looked comfortable at the hot corner and settled in as the season went on. Nelson has the plus arm strength to play third but does short-arm the ball on occasion. Nelson has an athletic frame with plenty of room for strength gains. He has an upper-cut swing and just average bat speed, but still manages to put together solid at-bats and doesn't show much swing and miss, although he'll occasionally chase. Scouts, however, note his aptitude that after he chases, if the pitcher doubles up, Nelson can do damage. As he grows into man strength, Nelson projects to have average power and he has some feel to hit. He's an average runner who may be challenged with a jump to low Class A Greensboro in 2017.