01/16/09 9:49 AM EST
Batting Around with Chris Nelson
Rockies prospect gives an inside look at life on and off the field
By Lisa Winston / MLB.com
Chris Nelson's got game.
The Colorado Rockies certainly knew it when they drafted the shortstop with the ninth overall pick out of Redan High School in Decatur, Ga., in 2004.
Scouts knew it watching him flash his across-the-board tools that range from bat speed to raw power to base-running zip to soft hands and a strong arm, not to mention just his all-around athleticism.
But it's taken a little while for the multi-talented infield prospect to put it all together consistently. And this past summer may have been one of the biggest challenges in Nelson's career.
Coming off a 2007 campaign where he .289 with 19 homers, 99 RBIs and 227 steals at at Class A Advanced Modesto, he moved up to Double-A Tulsa to form what might have been -- on paper -- one of the swiftest middle infield duo in the game. Nelson joined second baseman Eric Young Jr. and second-baseman-turned-third baseman Corey Wimberly in the Drillers' infield, while eventual Olympian Dexter Fowler backed them up in center field.
But the quartet rarely wound up on paper together, as first Young and then Nelson landed on the DL for extended stints due to hamate bone surgery. Nelson missed more than two months of action, and hit just .237 with three homers with 42 RBIs in 81 games.
He more than made up for lost time with the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, helping lead that team to its fifth consecutive championship by hitting .321 with six homers and 17 RBIs.
He also, for the first time, saw action at a position other than shortstop, playing some second base to add to his versatility factor.
Now totally healthy and recovered from his surgery, Nelson has been getting his game back while also participating in the Rockies' Rookie Development Program in Denver and the Major League Rookie Career Development program in Washington D.C, this weekend.
In between all that, Nelson took the time to sit down and chat with MLB.com's Lisa Winston:
MLB.com: Everyone has a "hidden talent." What's yours?
CN: I can juggle.
MLB.com: Like flaming batons?
CN: No, just three balls, nothing special.
MLB.com: Complete this sentence: It would surprise people to know that I ...
CN: Can swim really well.
MLB.com: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?
CN: Downloading music, making beats. Me and EY (teammate Eric Young Jr.) like to make our own music sometimes.
MLB.com: Of what accomplishment, on or off the field, are you the proudest?
CN: When I made a donation to my school, Redan High School, to try to get a batting cage built.
MLB.com: What is the coolest thing you've ever done?
MLB.com: What's the worst job you've ever had?
CN: This is the only job I've ever had. My dad wouldn't let me work, it was baseball all the way.
MLB.com: What's your "guilty pleasure" when it comes to TV?
MLB.com: That's not a guilty pleasure, that's a good show!
CN: Okay then, watching Spongebob Squarepants with my little sister.
MLB.com: What reality TV show would you totally kick butt on?
CN: Double Shot of Love with Tila Tequila. I'd probably win.
MLB.com: Who was your childhood crush?
CN: Beyonce Knowles.
MLB.com: Who would play you in a movie of your life?
CN: My cousin, Eric Esquilin.
MLB.com: If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
CN: Barack Obama, so I could be head of state.
MLB.com: What do you think you'd be doing now if you weren't playing baseball?
CN: I would probably be in college trying to get a business degree.
MLB.com: Which aspect of life in the Minors do you find to be the biggest challenge and why?
CN: Getting rest and getting food ... getting good balanced meals.
MLB.com: Which aspect of life in the Minors has surprised you the most, in comparison to what you might have imagined before you turned pro?
CN: Just the cramped rides on the bus. The bus rides are awful.
MLB.com: What is the biggest misperception that people outside of baseball have about life in the Minors?
CN: That I'm in the Major Leagues. You tell them you play for the Rockies and they assume you're in the Major Leagues.
MLB.com: If you were commissioner for a day, which one rule would you change?
CN: I would raise Minor League salaries.
MLB.com: What is the best Minor League promotion or visiting act you've seen?
CN: A dude doing the YMCA with like eight fake people on a pole.
MLB.com: What has been your least favorite visiting act or promotion?
CN: Jimmy Buffett Night.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.