Former Top Prospect is Brewin’ Again

Brad Nelson has seemingly been around forever. The former fourth round pick out of an Iowa high school in 2001 was considered a better prospect at one time than current Brewer Corey Hart, who was also drafted out of high school but a year earlier.

However, things changed and Hart has played parts of five seasons in the majors and secured a regular gig last year after hitting .295/.353/.539 with 24 homers in 505 at-bats. Nelson, on the other hand, has yet to have a Major League at-bat and he has spent parts of four seasons in Double-A and parts of four seasons in Triple-A.

Things may be looking up for Nelson, though. Still young at only 25, the left-handed batter, who can play first base and the corner outfield, is currently hitting .304/.417/.507 with 12 homers and 19 doubles in 280 at-bats. The most encouraging numbers are the 55 walks (16.7 percent walk rate) and 49 strikeouts (17.5 percent). Nelson walked a total of 31 times in 2007 (seven percent) during the span of 411 Triple-A at-bats. Nelson has shown good strike zone judgment in the past, as recently as 2006, when he walked 63 times (19.2 percent), albeit with 62 strikeouts (23.4 percent) in 265 Double-A at-bats.

Nelson is likely headed for a career off the bench as he does not hit lefties overly well. This season he is hitting .240/.374/.400 against southpaws and .327/.433/.546 against right-handers. Even so, if his 2008 numbers are for real, he could put together a nice career, perhaps in the mold of Mark Sweeney, most recently of the Dodgers. The biggest question that remains is how well he will hit while receiving sporadic playing time at the Major League level.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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