Bryant Nelson

Bryant Lawrence Nelson, born January 27th, 1974 in Crossett, AR, was a professional baseball player from 1994-2016. He is the brother of Brandon Jones.


Nelson's baseball career is among the longest and most traveled of any by an Arkansan. During his 23 seasons in professional baseball, Nelson has demonstrated remarkably versatility as both a batter and a fielder. A switch hitter, Nelson has consistently shown good contact and decent speed on the base paths, as well as occasional power. With experience at shortstop, second base, third base, and outfield, Nelson is a valuable utility player. In all, only a few Arkansas natives have played more professional baseball games than Nelson

Nelson was originally drafted as a pitcher from Crossett, AR High School in the 22nd round of the 1992 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. However, he chose to attended Texarkana Junior College and play baseball under head coach Dave Van Horn instead. He was drafted once again in 1993 by the Houston Astros in the 44th round as a shortstop. Nelson signed with the Astros and finished the season with the Wichita Broncos in the Jayhawk Collegiate summer league.

Nelson made his professional debut in 1994 with Quad Cities in the Midwest League. Soon afterward, he was sent to Auburn in the New York-Penn League where he was named a Second Team All-Star.1 He was invited to spring training with the Houston Astros in 1995 and afterward assigned to Kissimmee in the Florida State League. Nelson played two seasons with Kissimmee and followed up each with a stint in the Arizona Fall League. His performance fell in 1996, however, and the Astros chose to release him in the spring of 1997. He subsequently signed with the Chicago Cubs organization and played the next three seasons in the class AA Southern League. Although Nelson maintained fair hitting, Chicago was forced to release him as a six-year minor leaguer not on the Cubs' 40-man roster.2

After playing the first of five seasons with Hermosillo in the 1999 Mexican Pacific winter league, Nelson was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He began the 2000 season with Tuscon in the Pacific Coast League, but was sent quickly to play with Monterrey in the Mexican League. Between Tuscon and Monterrey, Nelson compiled one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .328 with a career high 25 homeruns. He also carried his success into the winter season with Hermosillo where he hit .330 and was named league MVP. He returned to Tuscon in 2001, but on July 11th was traded to Nashville, also in the Pacific Coast League. Despite hitting .314 for Nashville, Nelson failed to make Pittsburgh's 40-man roster and was released at the end of the season.

Though considering retirement,3 4 Nelson signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2002 season. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and assigned to Pawtucket in the International League to begin the year.5 On May 14th, he was called up to the Red Sox to replace injured Manny Ramirez. He made his Major League debut later that night at Fenway Park in Boston as a defensive outfield replacement. He made his first start and collected his first hit on May 27th in Toronto. Nelson remained with Boston until July 20th, when he was optioned back to Pawtucket. In all, Nelson in 25 major league games and hit .265 with only one strikeout in 34 at-bats.

Nelson was not resigned by Boston for 2003. Instead, Nelson traveled to Japan to play with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in the Nippon League. However, his playing time and performance suffered as a result of a shoulder injury.6 He returned to the U.S. in 2004 and signed with the Chicago White Sox. In a league-leading 142 games with Charlotte in the International League, Nelson played well. He hit 22 home runs and was named the starting second baseman in the Triple-A All-Star Game. Nevertheless, he was once again released at the end of the season. He went on to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, his seventh and final MLB organization. He remained in the International League in 2005 as a member of the Syracuse Sky Chiefs, but suffered a sharp decreased in offensive and was not resigned for another season.

After twelve seasons in the affiliated minor leagues, Nelson shifted to independent and foreign baseball leagues. He played two seasons of winter ball in Venezuela in 2005 and 2006, as well as parts of regular seasons in Taiwan in 2006, the Mexican League in 2007 and 2008, the Canadian-American Association in 2008, and the Italian Baseball League in 2011. However, Nelson spent the majority of his playing time between 2006-2016 with teams in the independent Atlantic League, including Bridgeport, Long Island, York, Lancaster, Camden and Southern Maryland. During this time, he earned Atlantic League All-Star selections in 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2016. While playing in his twenty-third season of professional baseball in 2016, Nelson set the Atlantic League record for career games played, at-bats and hits.


Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.

Fall/Winter League Stats

Taiwan Stats