On this day in 1982, John Bradley Nelson was born in Algona, Iowa. The Brewers drafted him out of high school with their fourth round pick (#118 overall) in the 2001 draft, and he signed shortly thereafter.
Nelson had a huge first full season in the minors in 2002, hitting .289/.349/.507 over 132 games between Beloit (low-A) and High Desert (high-A). Impressed by the performance, Baseball America ranked Nelson as the #23 prospect in all of baseball before the 2003 season. He took a step back in 2003 but still held his own as a 20 year old splitting time between A ball and Huntsville, earning him another spot in BA's top 50 before the 2004 season.
Unfortunately for Nelson, he stalled as a prospect while Prince Fielder was rapidly climbing the ladder at the same position. Fielder crushed the Midwest League as a 19 year old in 2003, leading to a promotion directly to Huntsville and moving Nelson into the outfield. It took Nelson three more seasons to regain his prospect status and earn his first callup to the big leagues in 2008. Then, an 0-for-21 streak to start the 2009 season got him sent back to AAA and he hasn't been seen in the big leagues since.
2011 was Nelson's eleventh season in the minors, but he's still only 29 years old. He hit .281/.360/.501 for Round Rock in the Rangers organization last season.
As mentioned above, Nelson turns 29 today. With help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd also like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- 2009 Brewer Jesus Colome, who turns 34.
- 1985-86 Brewer Tim Leary, who turns 53.
- 1970-74 and 1978 Brewer Dave May, who turns 68.