Updated: Nov 23
Story By: David P. Funk, NWI times
“He’s got electric hands and just a knack for finding the barrel,” manager Chris Cunningham said.
The Andrean graduate and Indiana signee has plans.
WHITING — The Midwest Collegiate League is just the next step for Northwest Indiana Oilmen middle infielder Tyler Nelson.
“The goal is obviously to get to MLB. But I can’t think of that right now,” he said. “I’m trying to find a spot and play at IU when I get down there. That’s where I’m trying to be.”
Nelson wants to be as prepared as possible to head to Bloomington in the fall and he feels like he’s getting closer. The MCL, for him, is at least partially about growing accustomed to the college baseball lifestyle.
“They do (batting practice) hours before the game. You’re getting there three hours before the game starts, getting your mind in game mode,” he said. “It definitely helps you get ready for what you’re trying to do in college and eventually the pros, too.”
Nelson has turned heads at the plate for the Oilmen, especially early in the season. Through Tuesday, he is hitting .315 with a .438 on-base percentage. He has 23 hits over 19 games, including three doubles, with 11 RBIs.
“He’s got electric hands and just a knack for finding the barrel,” manager Chris Cunningham said. “He knows his strengths and plays to them.”
The bat is what sets Nelson apart, but it’s the glove that he’s focused on with the Oilmen. He knows that’ll keep him on the field at the next level.
“There’s a lot of stuff I still need to work out, like charging the ball and getting it out quick,” Nelson said. “Before, I used to take too long.”
Nelson has a batting cage in the basement at home and uses it to work on his swing when he can’t find a diamond. He also spent much of the spring playing in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield against quality opponents.
“I put a lot of work in. Leading up to (the MCL season), it helped keep me in game shape,” he said. “It was better than high school, competition wise. I think it was more beneficial for me than anything.”
Still, Nelson and the 59ers lament the coronavirus taking away a chance for a third consecutive state title. Recent Andrean alumni doubted the 2020 roster’s ability to get it done, Nelson said.
“I really do think we had a shot. We were in (Class) 4A, which would’ve been tough, but I think we had a real shot,” Nelson said. “We always thought we would’ve been a pretty good team.”