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.

Mat Nelson Stats

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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11 Responses

  1. Stock

    Did you ever find out what Nelson or other prospects did in the Instructional League?

  2. MK

    Kind of a coincidence that he had catching hand problems at Dayton since Tyler Stephenson had hand and wrist issues there as well.

      • MK

        The biggest hand issue I remember him having was his inability to catch the ball. His glove was more like a backboard with the ball bouncing off of it. could have had a hand injury though.

  3. Bourgeois Zee

    I have Nelson much farther down my list than 13th. His K and defense issues are problematic, as is his college career pre-2021. Nelson K’ed nearly a quarter of his NCAA PAs. He also had three errors and two more passed balls in just less than 70 total defensive innings.

    I’ve got Abbott, Torres, Johnson, and Loretta ahead of Nelson– at this point, I see Nelson occupying the same space as Kolovszary.

    • Stock

      I am with you Borgeous.

      I think Nelson has more upside than Kolozsvary but also has a lower floor. I have Nelson 26 (albeit with Santillan in my top 25). If you have a K problem in college and then strike out 50% of your PA in A ball it screams warning. I know he had limited PA in Dayton but 50% is 50%.

      As for his defense I have heard good and very bad so not sure what to think.

      The Reds messed up with this pick, at least thus far. However, I think they hit a HR with McLain and a grand slam with Allen.

    • Stock

      Nelson is one of 4 players in Doug’s top 25 that is not in my top 25.

      Doug has Nelson, Friedl, Moreta and Valdez.

      I have Santillan, Carlos Jorge, Leonardo Balcazar and Thomas Farr.

      I think Jorge will produce stats similar to Ray Allen in AZ in 2022. I would not be surprised if he is in Daytona at some point, possibly even skippin AZ.

      Balcazar will produce stats better than Confidan in AZ next year. Plus he will play quality defense at SS vs. Confidan’s struggles in the field. He will also be one of the youngest players in AZ next summer.

      • DaveCT

        Ray Allen could really shoot the three pointer, couldn’t he? Tongue planted in cheek of course …

      • Old Big Ed

        Ray Allen is taking a different approach to the two-sport athletic career, by doing them consecutively rather than concurrently. But I thought that Bill Ardello might work out as a catching prospect.

    • DaveCT

      I have little confidence Nelson will pan out. I suppose he might develop if he is athletic enough, but so many K’s in a top shelf college program doesn’t inspire much projection. Koloszvary isn’t far ahead either given his pro career numbers.

  4. DaveCT

    Minor league Rule V draft, Reds grsb Ronnie Dawson, a LH hitting CF.

    Flip side they “lose” Carson Fullmer to Dodgers.

    First time in awhile I can say I like this move. Toolsy guy with dome decent skills.