Nelson, 22, was initially drafted by the Marlins in the 15th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Cisco Junior College in Texas. Since then he has played four seasons in the Miami minor league system, the last two of them in Class-A Advanced Jupiter.
In his first season, Nelson played 42 games for the Gulf Coast League Marlins, hitting .284/.344/.364 over 162 at-bats with a BABIP of .338 and wRC+ of 115. He hit 10 doubles, a home run, and 24 RBIs while walking 14 times.
Nelson earned a promotion to Class-A Greensboro of the South Atlantic League for his season. In 102-games as a Grasshopper, he hit .309/.354/.456 over 395 at-bats with 31 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, and 59 RBIs. He had a .399 BABIP with a wRC+ of 132 as well as a wOBA of .365.
In 2018, Nelson got his first taste of the Class-A Advanced Florida State League, playing 62 games with the Jupiter Hammerheads. Nelson was a mid-season addition to the Hammerheads, being assigned to their roster from Extended Spring Training on June 3, but it would only be a few days before he would be placed on the injured list. He was activated from the injured list on June 20, 2018, and went on to hit. 211/.262/.280 in 232 at-bats with Jupiter. He had a .281 BABIP, a wOBA of .254, and a wRC+ of 56 in his first taste of High-A.
He returned to Jupiter for 2019, where he played a career-high 121 games for the Hammerheads. In 470 at-bats he hit .228/.279/.296 with a BABIP of .274, a wOBA of .271, and a wRC+ of 72. Nelson hit 13 doubles, two triples, and four home runs while driving in 36 runs and walking a career-high 30 times. There were some encouraging signs as he lowered his K% from 26.1% in 2018 to 18.9% in 2019 and raised his BB% from 5.1% to 6.4%.
Throughout his entire career, Nelson has played exclusively at third base, appearing in 287 games at the position and racking up 2,431 1/3 innings while committing 71 errors.
Our friends at 2080baseball.com provided us with this scouting report from the Marlins 2018 Instructional League.
NOTES FROM THE FIELD, INSTRUCTS:
Medium frame that has thickened significantly through core/lower-half in the last calendar year. Heavier and less athletic.
Struggled at the plate throughout instructs. Apathetic ABs, frustrated with himself, long to the ball, lots of whiffs.
Generated surprising power from whippy batspeed in the past, but stroke looks slower. Game power only to pull right now.
Below-avg runner up the line that’s average moving underway. Will need to keep body in check to stay avg.
Less twitch in his defensive first step than what he showed in the past. Hands work, still charges the ball well.
Fringy arm across the infield, consistently lacked carry and tailed at finish. Not a lock to stay at 3B from this look.
Nelson will be getting a fresh start with the Yankees, an organization that just recently went through a drastic change in coaches. He was ranked as high as number eight In the Marlins organization by Baseball America in 2017, and 16 by MLB Pipeline in 2017 and 2018 but fell out of the top 30 after the 2019 season. This fresh start should be welcoming, especially to an organization like the Yankees that has put in a big investment in technologies to help players develop.