It's amazing what a simple attitude adjustment can accomplish for Nick Nelson.
The Yankees' No. 27 prospect fanned a career-high 12 batters and allowed one run on two hits over five innings as Class A Charleston pulled out a 2-1 win over Kannapolis on Friday night at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark.
Gameday box score
Nelson recovered nicely after running into some trouble in the first. He issued a one-out walk ahead of a Justin Yurchak single and an RBI double by Craig Dedelow but left two runners stranded with a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning.
The fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft retired Kannapolis in order in three of the next four innings, including striking out the side in the second.
"After the first, I changed my attitude a little bit," Nelson said. "I really wasn't just trying to attack the zone, and it hurt me. Once I started attacking, everything played up and I started trusting my stuff."
Friday was a bounce-back start for the Gulf Coast State College product as he did not make it out of the second inning in his season debut last week, surrendering seven runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings in a loss to Lexington.
"I was just trying to place everything, instead of throw it," Nelson said.
Video: RiverDogs' Nelson fans career-high 12
Charleston pitching coach Justin Pope said Nelson ran into some bad luck in his first start, but remained impressed by his ability to rebound Friday.
"A couple of plays weren't made that could have been made and some calls didn't go his way," Pope said. "But it's not like he pitched bad. I know the line score was lopsided and didn't look that good, but he pitched much better than it shows. … It was nice to see him bounce back today. He did a really nice job of working in between starts and being prepared today."
The Panama City, Florida, native is repeating a level with the RiverDogs after going 3-12 with a 4.56 ERA in 2017. Nelson said he matured mentally over the course of his first full-season.
"I learned a lot about myself," Nelson said. "I may not have had the best outings, but I learned how to deal with difficult situations. Let's say, if I gave up a couple of hits last year, I got really frustrated. If I walked a couple of guys last year, I got really frustrated. In my first full season, last year, I was trying to do too much. I guess I matured a little bit from last year with the mental game."
Nelson's resilience in the first inning was emblematic of the right-hander's progress in that regard. Continuing to prove he's capable of handling adversity will be key to his progression through the Yankees' system.
"He has the stuff," Pope said. "Last year a lot of times he was trying to add stuff to his pitches, try and make them nastier and perfect. Whereas tonight, he was trusting his stuff and rather than trying to make a perfect pitch, he was just trying to focus on being aggressive in the zone with all his pitches and did a really nice job with his delivery."
Nelson did not factor in the decision, with Kyle Zurak (1-0) earning the win after twirling three innings of scoreless relief beforeLuis Cedeno picked up his first save with a scoreless ninth.
"[Zurak] did a really nice job. His stuff looked really good toady, too," Pope said. "And [Cedeno], his stuff also looked really good today. He did a really nice job of working around the leadoff batter reaching second on a fielding error and shutting the door for us."
Steven Sensley went 3-for-3 for Charleston with a double and a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth. Chris Hess plated Sensley with a single in the sixth.
Dedelow was 2-for-4 with the lone RBI for the Intimidators.