Scouting Yankee Prospect #35: Maximo Nelson
One of Yankees' Hardest Throwers
One of Yankees' Hardest Throwers

Posted Dec 9, 2004


The New York Yankees signed Maximo Nelson out of the Dominican Republic in October of the year 2000. Nelson has proven to be a strong-armed right handed pitcher with a live fastball and good command. It's these reasons that he's our #35 Yankee's prospect. (Free Preview of Premium Content)

Vital Statistics:
Name: Maximo Nelson
Position: Pitcher
DOB: April 21, 1982
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Not everyone may have known Maximo Nelson too well, until this season at least. It wasn't so much that he wasn't an outstanding performer as an amateur in the Dominican Republic but more literally because his current name was not known until this season. In simplest terms, Nelson had some visa problems which delayed his landing on United States soil. The big righthander was primed to play in the United States in 2003 but there were discrepancies that had to first be sorted out. Prior to the 2003 season, Maximo Nelson was known by the Yankee organization as Willy Pie. Not to mention, there was a major age discrepancy as well. As it turns out, not only was his name Maximo Nelson, but he also was over 2 years older than originally thought. However, the Yankees chose to look past these problems and keep him around. Considering his talent and potential, they made the right choice in the long run.

Like his teammate, Marvin Moscat, Nelson is a free-agent signee out of the Dominican Republic from October of 2000. And just like Moscat, Nelson had a tremendous season in the Gulf Coast League this past year. Nelson's peripheral stats were solid in every category except one. His numbers will be even better once he learns to give up a few less home runs as he served up just about one every nine innings. But that's hardly cause for concern so young in his development stage. Nelson, who turns 23 early next season, will most likely begin 2005 in low-A ball. The age is one of the only drawbacks on Nelson's performance in 2004 considering he was pitching against many players who were 3-4 years younger than him. However, his stuff and physical potential is enough to make one overlook that. Nelson was a workhorse for the GCL Yankees, leading them to a league championship. It has even been documented that his ERA gained most of its mass in a span of a couple outings. Teammates of Nelson have stated that he truly may have given up just one earned run for half of the season. Rather, a couple bad outings bunched together in the middle of the season caused his ERA to "balloon" to 2.63.

Moving up to a full season league will be the turning point in the prospect status of Maximo Nelson. If he shows that he can get by with his secondary at a full season level, he could move quickly through the system considering his age. However, if he can't find his off speed stuff, he could be destined for the bullpen as soon as 2005. Most likely, his destiny will be determined in spring training in 2005.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2004

Gulf Coast

6-3

54.2

48

12

54

2.63


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Curveball, Slider.

Fastball. Here is where Maximo Nelson has made his name. A rguably, Nelson may have been the hardest thrower on the Gulf Coast Yankee staff in 2004. Maximo's fastball can touch 96 MPH, but he usually pitches around 92-94 MPH. But, the impressive thing about Nelson is command. He can locate his fastball with the best of them and that is one of the biggest keys to his success. He throws an excellent 2-seam fastball that he likes throwing the most. The tall righty uses a lot of fastballs now because he can overmatch hitters, but he will have to mix in more off speed pitches as he moves up the ladder. But, with his good command of the heater, he already has a leg up.

Other Pitches. Besides his outstanding fastball, Maximo Nelson also possesses a changeup, a slider and a curveball. Nelson has solidified his changeup and it has become a very serviceable pitch for him. His breaking ball needs some refinement though. He has a tight slider that is around 84 MPH, but he lacks consistency with it. He can get away with it at the Rookie Ball level, but won't be so lucky as he moves up. As is the case with most of the young pitchers in the Yankees' system, Nelson has been told to put his slider on the shelf for now and focus more attention on developing his circle changeup. Nelson also has a good, slow curveball in the mid 70 MPH range. Again, the potential for two excellent breaking pitches is there, but refinement and consistency of these pitches will be pivotal as Maximo moves up the ladder.

Projection. It is hard to tell at this point whether Maximo Nelson is bullpen bound or if he will remain a starting pitcher. Most of this determination will hinge on the development of his breaking stuff. If he is able to refine his third pitch, he could be a very good starting pitcher. However, without this third pitch, he could still be a fine relief pitcher with the good fastball he has.

ETA. N/A. For a guy like Nelson, it is going to be incredibly difficult to determine his career path, especially when he will land in the Major Leagues. For now, there is no bold prediction because of the chance of it coming true is debatable. One thing that is for sure is this; he will start his 2005 season in, at least Charleston, possibly even in Tampa. Then, he should be in AA Trenton by 2006 and in Columbus by the the 2007 season. The most likely scenario has him in the Bronx late in 2007.

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