There is another New York Yankees starting pitching prospect that is getting ready to knock on the door of the major league rotation. Right-hander Nick Nelson has progressed a lot over the last couple of seasons and is inching closer and closer to the majors. Nelson was drafted in the fourth round by the Yankees in 2016 and is currently the 16th ranked prospect in the New York Yankees system. Nelson has worked his way up to AAA over the last couple of years with a dominant fastball and ever-developing breaking balls. Nelson has a fastball that just explodes out of his hand usually sitting between 92-96 MPH topping out as high as 98. Nelson had a very impressive 2019 that has a lot of scouts thinking he could be ready for the majors sooner than later.
Despite missing the beginning of 2019 with shoulder issues, Nelson bounced back to have a fantastic season. Across three levels in the minors, Nelson posted an 8-3 record with a 2.81 ERA. In 89.2 innings, Nelson struck out an impressive 114 batters and walked 43. The walk number was encouraging because it went down from the previous year and Nelson threw one more inning than he did the year before. Walks have been one of the concerns about Nelson due to his lack of consistency with his offspeed pitches. While Nelson’s fastball is very good, his offspeed pitches need a little work. His curveball currently is his best offspeed pitch, but again he struggles to throw it for strikes. Over the last year, Nelson really worked on the development of his slider. If he can turn those two pitches into consistent plus pitches, Nelson could develop into a really good starter at the major league level.
When the season gets underway, I want to see Nelson continue to develop his slider and curveball. I watched a couple of his outings last year, and his curveball was really good when it’s on. He’s still figuring out the slider since it was a pitch he really didn’t at to his repertoire until last year, but I think he’s coming along well with it. I have confidence that he will be able to get that pitch to the point where it is a consistent threat. The Yankees have a very deep farm system when it comes to starting pitchers. I’m very curious to see if the Yankees continue to progress Nelson down the starter path or alter him to the bullpen. The sooner he’s in the majors, he’s more than likely going to be pitching out of the bullpen unless injuries force the hand of the Yankees. Either way, I think Nelson is a very valuable piece that the Yankees have in their farm system, and I’m curious to watch him progress over the next year.