When the 2021 baseball season began for Mat Nelson he was entering his junior year as the catcher at Florida State. After a good season in 2019 he only played in 17 games during a cancelled 2020 season for the Seminoles. During 2021 he broke out and had one of the best offensive seasons in the entire country. Over 53 games Nelson hit .330/.436/.773 with 17 doubles and 23 home runs. That, combined with what he did behind the plate led to the Cincinnati Reds selecting him 35th overall in the 1st round of the draft.
With the late draft date in 2021, Mat Nelson didn’t get onto the field until August 10th. Cincinnati began his career in Goodyear at the spring training complex with the Arizona Complex League Reds. That assignment was just to get him back on the field briefly – he played in just two games there – before he was sent out to join the High-A Dayton Dragons.
His first game with Dayton went well as he joined the team in Lansing and went 2-3 with a triple, two runs, and two RBI. But over the next two weeks he played in seven games and went 3-21 with 14 strikeouts in 25 plate appearances. In the final game of that stretch he played his last game of the season when what appeared to be a cross up led to him taking a fastball directly off of his wrist. He did return for instructional league.
For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Mat Nelson Scouting Report
Position: Catcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 209 lbs | Acquired: 1st Round (2021)
Born: January 14, 1999
Hitting | He has a below-average hit tool.
Power | He shows plus raw power.
Speed | A catcher, as you’d expect to see, he has well below-average speed.
Defense | His defense is inconsistent, but has the ability to be average in the future.
Arm | He shows a plus arm.
With catchers it’s the defense that teams pay the most attention to. Mat Nelson’s arm behind the plate stands out among his peer group as it’s a plus arm that he can help control the running game with. When it comes to the glove work he shows the things you want to see from a backstop at times, but some scouts have noted that he needs to be more consistent with his receiving and blocking skills to become an average defender at the big league level.
At the plate there are things that can lead to excitement and can cause concern. His power is real and it plays. He can hit the ball over the fence from foul pole to foul pole. On the flip side of that, though, is the big concern with just how much contact he will make. He struck out a lot while in college and in limited action as a professional he struck out in nearly half of his trips to the plate.
The upside is there for Nelson to be a 20+ home run, every day catcher in the big leagues. But the concerns about his ability to make contact also create a floor that could leave him as a guy who struggles to hit enough to reach the big leagues even with plenty of power being able to play.
Mat Nelson Spray Chart
With just 18 balls put in play during his professional debut there’s not much point in creating or looking at a spray chart here.
Interesting Stat on Mat Nelson
We’re talking about a sample size of just 10 games total so finding a truly interesting stat is almost impossible, but here goes: Mat Nelson had just 1 hit in four home games after turning pro.
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