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2017 Marlins minor league award winner James Nelson cleared for season debut

Meniscus surgery winds up costing the infielder nearly two months of playing time.

Photo by Greensboro News & Record

June 2 update: Nelson confirms that he will join High-A Jupiter on Sunday against the Palm Beach Cardinals.

May 25: As announced by the player himself Friday morning on Twitter, Marlins third base prospect James Nelson has been medically cleared to make his 2018 regular season debut. Nelson underwent meniscus surgery in spring training. He had been rehabbing at the team’s facilities in Jupiter and will now be added to the Hammerheads roster (High-A affiliate in the Florida State League).

Nelson batted .309/.354/.456 (132 wRC+) last season with the Low-A Greensboro Grasshoppers to earn 2017 Organizational Player of the Year honors. And he did that as one of the very youngest players in the South Atlantic League—only 11 of 432 plate appearances came against older pitchers.

Fish Stripes spoke with Nelson this past offseason, where he discussed a lifelong commitment to baseball and his plan to increase power production (7 HR last summer).

Nelson participating in Captains Camp at Marlins Park in February
Fish Stripes original GIF

The Marlins selected Nelson in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft from Cisco College (Cisco, TX). They quickly moved him from shortstop to the hot corner. He has spent every defensive inning of his pro career at third base, and with Brian Anderson graduating from prospect status, the 20-year-old is now the top-ranked player at that position in Miami’s farm system.

Nelson will gradually ease into an everyday role coming off the injury, so it will be interesting to see how that affects Justin Twine. A former second-round draft pick, Twine was being used primarily at third base for Jupiter. In what’s been a disappointing career up to this point, the 22-year-old has quietly found an offensive groove lately (batting .333/.364/.567 over the past two weeks).

We will update this article when Nelson is officially added to the roster.