Hosea Nelson’s Player of the Week award on July 23 wasn’t enough, as the 21-year-old outfielder took home the New York-Penn League’s Player of the Month Award earlier this week for his impressive play all throughout July.
Nelson, a ninth round pick by Cleveland in the 2016 draft out of Clarendon College (Texas), is in his third season in the Indians organization and has already surpassed most of his offensive statistics at the plate and on the base paths while working in his second season with short-season Mahoning Valley.
The left-handed hitting outfielder started the campaign slowly in his seven games in June, but turned it up in July as he put up a .340/.376/.553 slash at the plate with seven doubles, five homers, and 22 RBI in 28 games for the Scrappers. He led the league in both slugging percentage and RBI and was second in the NYPL in homers, hits (35), total bases (57), and extra base hits (12). His July 2018 numbers exceeded, in nearly every offensive category, his combined production in 42 games last season with the Scrappers, when he slashed .240/.305/.341 with 31 hits (eight doubles, one triple, one homer), seven RBI, 44 total bases, and ten extra base hits.
Over the course of the month, Nelson had ten different multi-hit games and delivered several big hits in the clutch that played decisive roles in the outcomes of contests.
He had a two-double game to open July on the road against the State College Spikes and added a three-hit game with three singles during the Scrappers’ homestand against the Batavia Muckdogs on July 5.
He would record his third multi-hit game in the span of a week on July 7, when the third of his three hits on the night dropped in at the perfect moment. Mahoning Valley trailed 5-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth and the club quickly hit into a pair of groundouts. Wildness became an issue for visiting Williamsport team, however, as after a single and defensive indifference, a throwing error allowed a run to cross for the Scrappers to make it a 5-3 game. A hit by pitch, a steal of third, and a walk loaded the bases, and a second batter hit by pitch in a three-batter stretch forced home a run to cut the gap against the Crosscutters to 5-4. With the bases still full of Scrappers, Nelson stepped to the plate and lined a single to center, scoring the tying and winning runs on his two-run walk-off winner.
After a tough series against Staten Island, Nelson got back to work with a strong showing against Hudson Valley, going 4-for-8 in a pair of starts with a double, a homer, and four RBI. The home run was perfectly timed, as on July 15 against the Renegades with the score tied at six in the bottom of the ninth, Nelson launched a two-run home run, his second of the season, to right-center field to give the Scrappers an 8-6 walk-off win.
He remained a productive contributor to the Mahoning Valley offense in the next series, notching a two-hit and a three-hit game while going 5-for-12 in the set with a pair of doubles, a homer, and three RBI.
He went 6-for-13 against the Muckdogs in the Scrappers’ first series at Batavia. He hit another double, another homer, and drove in six, including four in the finale on July 22. Hitting cleanup in the 16-8 Mahoning Valley win, he flew out in the second, singled in a run in the third, was hit by a pitch in the fifth, lined a two-run double to left in the seventh, singled in the eighth, and reached on an error while another run scored in the ninth. It capped off his Player of the Week efforts, when he put up a .440/.462/.800 line at the plate, with eleven hits (six singles, three doubles, two homers), nine RBI, and six runs scored.
After tallying his final multi-hit game of the month with a pair of singles at home against the Brooklyn Cyclones on July 25, he ended the month with single hits in each of his last five games played. The streak included his fifth homer of the year on July 29 against Aberdeen, when his two-run shot in the eighth inning padded the Scrappers lead at 5-1, a score that would persist and prevail.
Nelson’s focus this season has been on making sure that he is hitting the ball hard somewhere. His swing has been tinkered with quite a bit over his first two years, but his approach this season has been more back-to-basics. Described with an unconventional swing, Nelson has worked hard with Scrappers’ assistant hitting coach Jason Esposito, who previously worked with him during his time in the Arizona League.
Nelson will continue to work on his development over the course of the rest of the short-season schedule, but his efforts have not gone unnoticed. In addition to his Player of the Week and Player of the Month awards during July, he was one of five Scrappers selected to participate in the New York-Penn League’s All-Star Game as part of the South’s roster on August 14.