Skip to content
Coach Nelly

Coach Nelly rebuilt life coaching travel baseball

Influencer Coach Nelly starts podcast on Perfect Game TV

Nelson Gonzalez was coaching first base at the 2015 Perfect Game national showcase when a shortstop airmailed a throw past the first baseman and nailed him. In no time, the baseball left an ugly, red mark on the man who is now known nationally as Coach Nelly.

The swollen mark was so gruesome, it stood out even for longtime baseball coaches that day in Fort Myers, Fla. Jered Goodwin saw his protege’s welt and took him to the press box at JetBlue Park at Fenway South to show the owners of Perfect Game USA.

Gonzalez, who is practically covered in tattoos from head to toe, didn’t appreciate the exhibition. 

“If eyes could kill, he would have,” Goodwin said. “They were looking at me at that point. But he did it. It was a heck of a welt.”

Gonzalez, one of the premier social media influencers in the travel baseball ecosystem, was slow to trust authority and baseball folks a decade ago. His baseball career ended after he was expelled from high school for fighting with a teacher. 

Wrong path before becoming Coach Nelly

Goodwin, who has coached many first-round picks, says Gonzalez was talented enough to have played Division I baseball. Yet, Gonzalez’s playing career ended when he was expelled as a senior in high school. Instead of finding a circle of friends on the diamond, he was running with a Central Florida gang.  

“I had homies that made it seem like they have love,” Nelly says. “My parents were great. It was just that baseball broke my heart. I didn’t do anything but baseball.”

Without baseball, Gonzalez had no direction. He was admittedly lost.

“I got in a fight, and I felt like baseball turned its back on me,” he says. “I was gang banging.”


Jose Miranda honored by primo Lin-Manuel Miranda tweet

Mets star Francisco Lindor earns Philanthropist of the Year Award

Delgado: Baseball thrives in Mexico

Fortunately for Nelly, his father George and Goodwin had not given up on him. They showed him that the baseball world had not turned its back on him. That’s not to say tough love wasn’t needed to get him out of the gang life. He hit rock bottom after suffering a massive beating.

“Basically either you come in baseball again or I’ll take your last name,” Nelly remembers his father telling him.

Brotherly love

George Gonzalez, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, is one of the most respected travel baseball coaches in America. Based out of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla., area, George Gonzalez and Goodwin ran an elite baseball program.

Goodwin views George like an older brother and Nelly as a younger brother. Together, George and Goodwin pushed Nelly Gonzalez back into baseball in 2015. They let him serve as an assistant coach for smaller tournaments. Then he helped Goodwin coach a stacked squad at the Perfect Game national showcase in 2015.

That 2015 squad had major leaguers Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays, Jose Miranda of the Twins and Austin Shenton of the Rays. It didn’t take long before Nelly Gonzalez became a head coach.

Now Coach Nelly is a social media sensation. He has more than 55,000 subscribers to his Coach Nelly/FTB Phillies Scout Team YouTube page. He has 108,000 followers on Instagram. Nelly Gonzalez also launched The Step Up marketing and media brand.

Coach Nelly keeps it real. His social media presence is a mix of authenticity, substance and style with plenty of travel baseball. He recently debuted the Step Up Podcast with Perfect Game USA.

The bi-weekly podcast debuted earlier this month on PerfectGame.TV and the PGTV app. Charismatic Marlins All-Star Jazz Chisholm was the first guest for Coach Nelly and co-host Allie Hinkley.

The new Step Up Podcast has taken Coach Nelly, 33, full circle. In 2015, young Nelly was embarrassed when the Perfect Game owners saw all of his tattoos. Perfect Game USA is under new ownership with  Perfect Game CEO Rob Ponger and former agent Rick Thurman. Nonetheless, the message Goodwin gave Nelly at the 2015 national showcase stands.

Coach Nelly, change agent

“You have to understand baseball doesn’t see tattoos, doesn’t see colors, doesn’t see religion,” Goodwin, Perfect Game’s vice president of scouting, remembers telling Nelly in 2015. “Baseball only sees good baseball guys.”

Coach Nelly is definitely a good baseball guy. He started coaching with the Florida Travel Ball – Tucci team. Now, he’s with the FTB Phillies. He has teamed with coaches such as former Yankees and Phillies manager Joe Girardi.

Coach Nelly
Coach Nelly Gonzalez, third from left, poses with major leaguer Ryan Mountcastle, former minor leaguer Clay Middleton, big leaguer Rob Whalen, mentor Jered Goodwin and big leaguer Zach Eflin. Photo courtesy of Jered Goodwin.

Coach Nelly has had at least one player taken on the first day of each of the last five MLB Amateur Drafts. He had one of the best travel teams in recent memory when he had Andruw Jones Jr., the second overall pick in the 2022 draft, and Elijah Green, the first overall pick. FSU lefthander Jamie Arnold, who is likely to go in this year’s draft, was also on that loaded FTB team.

“For me, it’s a blessing to even have the opportunity to speak about baseball culture and help change the look of baseball,” he says. “I want to be a part of the change, speaking and getting certain stories that people don’t know about. The culture of the game is a huge thing for me, a huge impact in the game.”

Coach Nelly has already proven capable of changing baseball. He started by changing himself for the better. 

Stay in the Loop

Get the Our Esquina Email Newsletter

By submitting your email, you are agreeing to receive additional communications and exclusive content from Our Esquina. You can unsubscribe at any time.