Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 141 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
James Ryan Nelson is a 6’2″, 180 lb. third baseman from Stone Mountain, Georgia. Stone Mountain has produced two major leaguers to date, pitcher Connie Johnson (1953-1958, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles) and catcher Clint Sammons (2007-2009, Atlanta Braves). Nelson is poised to become the third.
Born on October 18th, 1997, Nelson was an 18th round selection of the Boston Red Sox in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. Instead of signing, he spent a season with Cisco Junior College. In 2016, Nelson was chosen in the 15th round by the Miami Marlins. You can follow him on Twitter @WoahitsNelly.
Selected with the 443rd overall pick, Nelson would be the seventh player chosen with the selection to make the major leagues. The group is led by Chuck Crim (1982, Milwaukee Brewers, 6.2 career WAR), Erik Plantenberg (1990, Boston Red Sox, 0.3 WAR), and John Holdzkom (2005, Seattle Mariners, 0.2 WAR).
After coming to terms with the Miami Marlins for a $75,000 bonus, Nelson joined the Florida-based, rookie-level GCL Marlins, in the Gulf Coast League. In 43 games, he slashed out a .284/.344/.364 line, with seven stolen bases in 10 attempts, 11 extra base hits, 24 RBI, and 30 strikouts in 180 plate appearances.
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Nelson’s first professional season was sufficient to earn a promotion for the 2017 campaign. Completely bypassing the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League, Nelson joined the Greensboro Grasshoppers, in the single-A South Atlantic League. He hit .309/.354/.456 in 102 games, with a club-best 31 doubles, seven home runs, and a team-best 59 RBI. He also drew 26 walks, but struck out 106 times in 432 plate appearances. Despite his status as the youngest player on the team, Nelson was named the Miami Marlins Minor League Player of the Year for his efforts in 2017. He also earned a slot in the mid-season all-star game and the post-season all-star team.
After a promotion to the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in 2018, Nelson appeared in 62 games, missing a good portion of the season with a pair of injuries. He hit .211/.262/.280 with two homers and 28 RBI. On July 23rd, Nelson batted third against the Fort Myers Miracle, and hit two singles, a double, scored twice and collected three RBI in a 12-11, 11-inning victory.
Here’s Nelson at this season’s post-season instructional league, courtesy of 2080baseball.com.
Nelson’s progress seems to have hit a snag in Jupiter, but he’s still only 21-years-old. Expect to see him open the season either with the Hammerheads or the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League. He should be in competition for a major league roster spot sometime in late-2020 or 2021.
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