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Prospect Tidbit: Chris Nelson

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Thoughts on Chris Nelson

One of the more disappointing prospects in 2005 was Rockies shortstop Chris Nelson, drafted in the first round last year, ninth overall. He hit just .241/.304/.330 with 7 steals in 315 at-bats for Asheville in the Sally League, a far cry from what was expected. He struck out 88 times. Are there mitigating circumstances here, and can he rebound?

Health was an issue: he missed time with a groin strain and a hamstring pull, and wasn't 100% healthy even when he did take the field. His plate discipline was disappointing. His defense was disappointing. He didn't run as well as he did in high school. He showed pop to the opposite field in high school and in rookie ball, but he got into a bad habit of trying to pull everything in '05.

How much of his bad performance is related to the injuries? Hard to tell. Groin and hamstring pain can hamper all parts of a player's game. Given Nelson's age (he turned 20 this month), it is way, way too early to give up on him. Look at it like this: if he'd gone to college, he would have had an injury-plagued, disappointing freshman season, and would still be considered a top draft prospect for 2007, based on his performance in high school. Sometimes we lose perspective on these guys who were supposed to advance quickly.

So basically, Nelson's status has slipped, yes, and he won't advance as fast as we thought. But he's still physically talented, very young, and has played well in the past. It is much too early to say he's a failed pick.