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Patience Pays

<b>Jon Nelson's</b> voice thunders down like an avalanche on the mountain slopes of his native Utah, but the words come out as pristine as the morning snow. A devout Mormon, the 6-foot-5 monster of a man is one of the most down-to-earth athletes you'll ever talk to. While imposing in stature, he doesn't have a problem coming down to the level of those around him in every day life.

Six years ago, Nelson, a 24-year-old infielder-turned-outfielder who starred at High-A Inland Empire last season, put that on display. It was in 1998 that he began a two-year Mormon mission in Miami, Florida, working with Cubans and forfeiting the chance to get a jump-start on a professional baseball career. He returned to Utah in 2000, enrolled at Dixie College, and headed back to the baseball...

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