In the first part of our interview with Nick Nelson, we discussed getting called up to the major leagues, his major league debut and transitioning to the bullpen. You can read that here. Below is the second part, where Nick discusses learning from veteran players, some benefits from the new Yankees pitching coaches and how close he was to going to the University of Florida before being drafted by the Yankees.
Dan Kelly: With the time between Spring Training, Summer Camp, and the recent call-up have you been able to pick the brain of the veteran players in the bullpen and on the pitching staff?
Nick Nelson: Yeah, definitely some of the guys are just hanging out down there and they’re real easy to talk to when you go up and ask them, you know, I feel like they like to talk about it, especially with us young guys. But if you go up and ask them what their mentality is like on their slider, they will sit there and explain it, their grip, their thought process of it also, I’ve overheard conversations with like Ottavino and King about sliders and its just cool to listen in definitely. I’m waiting to get really in-depth with one of them about something.
DK: Ottavino seems like the type of guy who can talk through everything he does, and Mike King as well. Both those guys have ties with the pitching coach, Matt Blake and the Organizational Pitching Director Sam Briend who come from a pitching lab background with Cressey Sports, and Driveline Baseball. Since they’ve come in over the last year have you noticed changes in the organization in some of the coaching and techniques? Have they brought stuff to you that seems out of the box, or that you have felt has helped you in any way?
NN: Not really, entirely. They haven’t really said anything to me that seems like it comes from the Rapsodo and stuff like that. We had this before Sam Briend and Matt got in the organization we had the Rapsodo that we threw our bullpens on and stuff like that, but I was never really taught, they never really helped us understand what all the numbers meant and what-not. With Sam and Matt coming in they sat down with us and got more in-depth with it helping me understand more. Now when I throw my bullpens I know how much break I want on my fastball, how much vertical break so its going to go up, and all the different numbers that come along with it. I feel like it has definitely helped out my bullpens and my side work.
DK: It is interesting and good to know that they have made difference in that area. I just have a few more questions. In JUCO you were a two way player who was ready to go to the University of Florida and continue hitting and pitching. How close were you to going to the SEC? Where you surprised when the Yankees selected you in the fourth round? I know this goes back a few years now, but how good of a hitter were you along the way?
NN: Well, where I come from, I was known for my hitting, to be honest with you. Everybody around me knows that I threw hard in high-school, but if you ask somebody what they know me for in Panama City, really it was for my hitting. I’ve had so many people reach out to me and say, “I would have thought you’d have made it as a hitter and not pitching.”
It was a tough decision to decide between signing with the Yankees or going to Florida. I grew up a Florida Gator fan, it was pretty awesome to sign with them especially as a two way player, knowing I was going to pitch and hit. So, it was definitely a hard decision but I feel like I made the right one with going to the Yankees, 100 percent. It was kinda surprising that I went in the fourth round. Everybody said I was going pretty high, around the 10th and 11th round, and then I got a call from the scout and he said we are going to take you in the fourth round.
DK: That is awesome. Thank you very much for your time, good luck.
NN: Thank you.