Every year, Baseball America releases two prospect rankings. The first, during the off season, ranks the top-100 prospects in the game. This is the bigger one towards which everyone pays the closest attention. This is the one that shows up when you look at players' minor league stats on Baseball-Reference.
They also release a second list, a smaller one of the top 50 prospects in baseball. This one gets released at midseason, and not as much clamor surrounds it. It's the same thing, just cut in half and released at a different time. It's an updated version of offseason list.
Back in the off season, the Brewers barely managed to crack the top 100 as Jimmy Nelson ranked 96th. However, Nelson has been so good this year that he is now the 38th best prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The site gives only a small snippet on each player, with this to say about Nelson:
"There are few healthy pitchers in the upper minors with stuff and results this year, and Nelson leads the way."
It's certainly well-earned for the right-hander, who has been absolutely stellar for the Nashville Sounds. This year, he has a 1.56 ERA and 0.92 WHIP to go along with a 9.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 104 innings in Triple-A.
He's also made one start for the Brewers this season, pitching 5.2 shutout innings against the Marlins on May 25 when Yovani Gallardo was forced to miss a start. Nelson gave up five hits and three walks while striking out six batters.
There's certainly a case to be made that Nelson deserves more big league starts this year. He has nothing left to prove in Nashville at this point and, at 25 years old, he's certainly not in need of more seasoning. Meanwhile, Marco Estrada has proved to be a detriment more than a benefit so far this season as his home run woes have reached new levels of horrendous. With rumors that Milwaukee may be scouting David Price and Jake Peavy, the team could be looking at replacing their fifth starter. With trades being expensive options, it may just be time for Nelson to get the call.
With Nelson on the rise in prospect lists, a June draft-class that has consistently ranked among the best, and some risk-taking on the international market, the Brewers are suddenly in a position where their farm system doesn't look so laughable. Big talent is still lacking at the upper levels of the minors outside of Nelson, but there is now a ton of potential in the lower rungs.
Things are looking up and the Brewers might well have a bright future ahead of them.
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