After losing nearly a month of his season to injury, Huntsville pitcher Jimmy Nelson proved Tuesday night that the shoulder is just fine.
The Brewers' No. 9 prospect turned in one of his best performances of the year, blanking Birmingham over seven one-hit innings in the Double-A Stars' 4-0 victory.
"I just did a better job of getting ahead of hitters and attacking the zone," Nelson said. "[I wasn't] trying to make perfect pitches, just trying to let myself work in the zone and trust in our defense. They made some good plays out there and I was just letting them do the work for me really."
The Barons' lone hit came in the form of Andy Wilkins' first-inning single. He promptly was thrown out attempting to steal second by Huntsville catcher Adam Weisenburger. Nelson (2-4), who walked two and hit a batter, did not allow a runner past first base.
"It's the best outing, for sure, since I've been in Huntsville," the 23-year-old said, "but I had a few in Brevard that were up there too."
Milwaukee's second round Draft pick in 2010 began the season in Class A Advanced Brevard County, where he went 4-4 with a 2.21 ERA, allowing an earned run or fewer in seven of his 13 starts.
Nelson has been in the Southern League since mid-June, but Tuesday marked just his 10th start for Huntsville. The 6-foot-6 right-hander spent nearly all of July on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, which made for a difficult transition to Double-A.
"I knew it was going to be a learning process coming here with better hitters and a little tighter zone," Nelson said. "The level of play is just a lot higher. It took me a little bit. I was kind of shaken early on in the first few outings, then I went down for a month with a little shoulder fatigue.
"Now since I've been off the DL, I've just been trying to attack the zone and learn from my earlier outings in Double-A. I think it's going a little better."
Nelson earned his first win Tuesday since his Huntsville debut back on June 15, improving his ERA to 3.91. The seven-inning performance was the longest since his promotion.
"I was just trying to get hitters to make contact and put the ball into play in three pitches or less," the Florida native said. "That's something we preach in this organization. I did that and the defense really backed me up out there. We got some good key hits that helped carry us to the win."
Right fielder Kentrail Davis opened the scoring in the second, driving in Brock Kjeldgaard with an RBI double to give the Suns a 1-0 lead. First baseman Hunter Morris doubled the lead with a solo homer in the fourth, and Davis added two more RBIs with a two-run single in the sixth.
Nick McCully (1-4) took the loss for Birmingham, allowing four runs on four hits and five walks over 5 2/3 innings.