Milwaukee Brewers: Alec Dopp Talks With Pitching Prospect Jimmy Nelson

With their lone second-round pick in the 2010 MLB first-year player draft, the Milwaukee Brewers took 6’6″, 235-pound right-hander Jimmy Nelson out of the University of Alabama.

Designated to Milwaukee’s rookie club in Helena later that season, Nelson would go 2-0, posting a 3.71 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitching in just his first minor league season.  His performance would be 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 conversation contains everything Brewers fans need to know about the youngster.

Jimmy Nelson’s Favorites

AD: If you had to choose, what is your favorite movie of all-time?

JN: Well, Forest 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: Alright, 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.

Jimmy Nelson: Growing Up

AD: What influence did growing up in Niceville, Florida have on your love for the game of baseball?

JN: Its 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.

Jimmy Nelson: College Years

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 when you were playing?

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.

Jimmy Nelson: The 2010 Draft

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.

Jimmy Nelson: Scouting Report

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 93-95 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 88-86 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.

Jimmy Nelson: Expectations

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.  Its 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.

Alec Dopp covers the Milwaukee Brewers as a featured columnist on Bleacher Report.  Follow him on Twitter: @alecdopp.

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