clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Saturday Rockpile: Chris Nelson Vies for Seemingly Wide-Open Utility Spot

Colorad Rockies infielder Chris Nelson looking to seize opportunity this season | News
With the recent acquisition of Marco Scutaro, Chris Nelson, who was the majority of the fanbase's favorite to win the second base job, has suddenly found himself in the same position that he has been in for the last few seasons. The 26 year old former first round draft pick boasts a .792 career OPS in eight injury-riddled minor league seasons, and at this point is all but guaranteed to be labeled as a bust. However, if he does have a chance left, it's certainly this season (and unfortunately for him, in this capacity, as a backup/role player) as the infielder has no options remaining.

Nelson, who has struggled to a 68 OPS+ in parts of two big league seasons, will have every opportunity to make the club as a utility infielder, as Thomas Harding mentions in the article. He is also still young enough that, provided he stays healthy, he can turn into a solid big league contributor. However, history is not on his side, and he'll have to overcome the injury-prone label and ability to adjust to big league pitchers.

At this stage, it looks like Nelson's main competition for a utility infield spot will be Jonathan Herrera (career 65 OPS+), DJ LeMahieu (just 62 big league PA's; .753 career minor league OPS), Brandon Wood (career 39 OPS+), and Eric Young Jr. (career 60 OPS+). Those options are also assuming that Jordan Pacheco begins the season as the backup catcher (which I'm thinking he may). LeMahieu hasn't had the chance to really prove himself as a major leaguer, but it can be argued that the same can be said about Nelson, and to a certain extent, Young. Herrera is what he is (slappy/gritty/all glove/etc.), and Wood has been a flat-out disaster and is possibly a bit of a head case.

At the very least, it should be an interesting battle. If I had to pick one, I'd probably pick Eric Young Jr. (largely due to his speed and decent on-base skills), and just hope beyond all hope that nobody (namely Scutaro or Troy Tulowitzki) gets injured.