Designated to Milwaukee's rookie club in Helena later that year, Nelson went 2-0, posting a 3.71 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitching in just his first minor league season. His performance was enough for Baseball America to rank the power right-hander as the Brewers' eighth overall prospect heading into the 2011 season.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Nelson on a number of different topics, ranging from his draft-day experiences to his favorite food. The following slides contain everything you need to know about the young prospect.
AD: If you had to choose, what is your favorite movie of all-time?
JN: Well, Forrest Gump is a good one. Inception is another one of my favorites.
AD: Favorite food?
JN: Any kind of seafood, really. I'm a big pasta fan, too.
AD: All right, last one: Do you have a favorite quote that you base your game off of?
JN: Not really. I have a bunch of favorite sayings I base my game off of, but, there's not really one quote that I really focus on.
AD: What influence did growing up in Niceville, Fla. have on your love for the game of baseball?
JN: It's a very baseball-rich area. There's a lot of talent that comes out of that area, and there's also a lot of really good coaches, which I think really helped me a lot growing up. I was always on pretty good teams, which helped make my a lot better and gave me that opportunity to get a college scholarship.
AD: Did you always want to be a pitcher?
JN: I mean, I did play a little bit of first [base] too, but when I was a kid I always threw. I was always one of the harder throwers in my age group. When you're a tall, big kid, you tend to get funneled into that position as a pitcher whenever you're big and you throw hard.
AD: How was your hitting?
JN: Oh, I don't know. The last time I hit was in my freshman year of high school. We had designated hitters, so there wasn't really much of a need. I wasn't terrible, though.
AD: I understand you were actually drafted by the Cincinnati Reds back in 2007, but did not sign. Why?
JN: Yeah, they drafted me right out of high school. It wasn't enough money for me to sign, and it wasn't enough money to skip college. I mean, I wanted to go to college to get a lot better to mature and grow into my body. I felt like I could get more after I'd proven myself. I was really excited about going to Alabama, too. They have a great staff and great facility and everything like that.
AD: How successful was the team during the years you attended school?
JN: We were always good. We were always the team that doesn't have that many big-name players, but we always end up scrapping it out and fought until the end. We won a lot more games than we were expected to. We made it to regionals every year I was there, and then we made it to the super-regionals my junior year.
AD: Back at the 2010 draft, who was the first person to call you to let you know you'd been selected by the Milwaukee Brewers?
JN: I mean, the area scout called me that morning of the draft and said, "If we take you in this round, will you sign for this much?" All I said to him was "yes," and that was pretty much the extent of my conversation. Before the Brewers came around, I knew there were some other teams that were interested in me and passed me up.
I was 99 percent sure the Brewers were going to draft me, though. I was happy about it. It's one of the best times of a prospect's life. Just going through that process is very exciting and it's just the beginning, really.
AD: Give us a breakdown on the pitches you throw.
JN: Well, I throw a sinker and a four-seam fastball, and I'm anywhere from 93 to 95 mph.
I'm primarily throwing sinkers, but I also have my slider, which has gotten a lot better. I went anywhere from 84 mph in college to 88 to 86 mph now. I've really developed my change-up this year, and that was probably one of the big points of this whole season. It's gotten a whole lot better.
AD: So, developing your change-up has been the only real stress-point from the coaches of late?
JN: Yeah. Stuff-wise, we've been working with the change-up because my other three pitches are pretty good. You know, the change-up is just a "feel" pitch and for a power pitcher, that can be pretty hard to do.
AD: If you had to choose one word to describe your style of play on the mound, what would it be?
JN: Competitive. I wanted to say "intense," but I'll say competitive.
AD: Now, obviously scouts and "experts" around the country like what they see in you. Do you pay attention to the prospect rankings?
JN: Yeah, I mean, I appreciate it, but, you really can't pay attention to that kind of stuff. We really try to shy away from that kind of stuff. We don't need any distractions. I mean, we hear about it and just because we're a rated prospect doesn't make us any more likely to make it to the big leagues than anybody else in the system. It's just one of those things you know about, but we just try to ignore it.
AD: What are your expectations heading into next season? Do you know where you're going to start?
JN: No, not really. No one really knows where they're going to start. I mean, hopefully I'm able to get to double-A at some point this year. But, you never know what can happen. I mean, there's some systems that guys go from single-A to the big leagues in one year. It's all just up to me to perform and do what I can, really.
AD: What are your career goals?
JN: I mean, of course I want to be in the big leagues as long as I can. I want to be able to help whatever team I'm with. Obviously, I want to win a World Series. Of course, everyone wants to have a 10-year big-league career, and every pitcher wants to win a Cy Young [award]. But if you ask anybody, getting to the big leagues and staying there is the goal. Getting there is just half the battle, staying there is ultimately what I want to do. You know, just having a good career and being able to help people any way I can, and help the team as much as possible, really.
AD: Thanks for the insight, Jimmy. I really appreciate it.
JN: No problem, man. Anytime.
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