While Gio Urshela may have been the key to the Yankees 5-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday, much of the talk was about rookie Nick Nelson's impressive Major League debut.
Nelson entered the game in the 5th inning and immediately opened eyes with a three pitch strikeout of Red Sox batter Tzu-Wei Lin, showing off his fastball that reached 98 MPH. He would end up throwing three scoreless innings of no hit ball with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. It is only one game, but Nelson's mixture of his blazing fastball and solid breaking pitches has the fans excited.
The Yankees drafted Nelson in the 4th round of the 2016 MLB Draft and he moved quickly through the ranks of the team's Minor League system. In 2018 he made his debut in High-A Tampa where he started 17 games, going 7-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 88.1 innings pitched with 99 strikeouts.
In 2019 he was promoted to Double-A Trenton where he started 12 games, putting up a 7-2 record with a 2.35 ERA in 65 innings of work with 83 strikeouts. He would eventually make the move to Triple-A Scranton where he started in just 4 games posting a high 4.71 ERA but did record 24 strikeouts in 21 innings.
Nelson has all the tools to be a successful pitcher in the big leagues. His fastball shows great velocity and decent movement, but lacks consistency in his command, which has led to a high walk rate. He also uses a variety of secondary pitches, including a change-up that reached 88 mph last night with some wicked movement.
Also in his pitch arsenal in a curve-ball with more of a 12-6 drop and an effective cutter that can touch 90 mph that can be his go to pitch if his fastball command is off.
Entering the 2020 season, Nelson cracked the team's top 20 prospect list coming in at #16. The 24 year old right hander has been used primarily as a stater since joining the Yankees organization but perhaps a move to the bullpen will help him stay at the Major League level.
With the abnormal 60 game season, it is all hands on deck and Nelson has definitely made a strong first impression on the team and the fans.