Results tagged ‘ Justin Nicolino ’
Marlins top offensive prospect Christian Yelich became instant friends with Jake Marisnick this winter following a trade between Toronto and Miami. Fast-forward to May and the duo is having dinner dates:
— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) May 7, 2013
Jeremy Barfield caught our attention last week with his bizarre Tweet about having to use the bathroom while on the field, and he didn’t disappoint this time around. Barfield, who was promoted from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Sacramento, provides a look into how professional ballplayers (this one being D’Arby Myers) catch up on sleep during road trips:
— Jeremy Barfield (@Baseclogger) May 4, 2013
Yankees reliever Pat Venditte spent last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, a town/region now well-known as the setting for NBC’s The Office. While the RailRiders recently hosted a farewell party with the show’s cast, Venditte is still having trouble letting go:
Not looking forward to next Thursday. Gonna be tough to say goodbye to Dwight. #theoffice
— Pat Venditte (@PatVenditte) May 10, 2013
Harrisburg’s Paul Demny dominated for eight innings and Ian Krol tossed a perfect ninth as Double-A Harrisburg no-hit Binghamton, 6-1, on Thursday. The Senators’ Jimmy VanOstrand came through with clubhouse celebration:
— Jimmy VanOstrand (@Dr_VanOstrand) May 10, 2013
Pawtucket’s Jackie Bradley Jr. is back in the Minors after some time at Fenway Park in April. He’s seems more worried about the end of the world than the end of his career though:
Watching “Forecasting the End” on the Weather Channel and it has me hooked. I’m very intrigued in the natural disaster stuff.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. (@JackieBradleyJr) May 10, 2013
Cody Decker is back with his own end of the world — or end-of-Cody-Decker — scenario. It’s more along the lines of the Discovery Channel than the Weather Channel, though:
Bucket List Addition #4264:Arm wrestle a grizzly bear…..(SIDE NOTE: Might have to be the last thing on this list that I do)
— Cody Decker (@Decker6) May 9, 2013
Speaking of the weather, Jupiter’s Justin Nicolino is learning about the storms that seem to hit Florida at least once a day:
— Justin Nicolino (@J_Nicolino22) May 9, 2013
Decker, assuming he goes shopping instead of fighting a bear, also had a complaint:
Bed, Bath, and Beyond does NOT sell beyonds……#falseadvertisement
— Cody Decker (@Decker6) May 9, 2013
Brandon Workman may be one of the Red Sox’s top prospects, but when it rains, he’s just like you and me: stuck watching reality TV and playing on his phone:
Rainout is making for a boring night in a hotel room
— Brandon Workman (@b_workman12) May 9, 2013
James Beresford had a better idea to waste time after a rainout: cheesecake.
— James Beresford (@JamesBeresford2) May 9, 2013
Noticing a trend here, Adam Pettersen shows how the Rock Cats keep busy during stormy weather:
— AJ Pettersen (@apettersen1) May 9, 2013
And finally, West Virginia’s Ryan Hafner cheers us back up with some sunny skies and green grass:
— Ryan Hafner (@RHafner8610) May 9, 2013
Chipotle Tweet of the Week
Akron’s Tyler Holt took a bus trip to Reading last week and, evidently, there’s a lack of Chipotle in the home of the Fightins:
Welcome to moes…. Obviously there isnt a chipotle close to the hotel in reading or id be there. #justsaying
— Tyler Holt (@ItsTHoltBaby) May 9, 2013
Prospect Q&A: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino on Being Traded, Turning Down WBC Team Italy, Hitting off Noah Syndergaard
Justin Nicolino completed his first bullpen session this morning. Excellent news, right Marlins fans?
Ready for even better news? Nicolino’s month-old throwing program is to get ready for the 2013 Minor League season, not the World Baseball Classic. More on that later. First, some background: Nicolino (@J_Nicolino22) was the best prospect in that 10-player, mid-November trade that sent All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes from Miami to Toronto. (I wrote here why I thought the Jays won the deal, despite Nicolino’s inclusion.) Now the Marlins’ No. 4 prospect (and baseball’s No. 86 overall), the 21-year-old left-hander will likely begin April at Class A Advanced Jupiter.
I caught up with Nicolino, who started throwing Dec. 16 and is working out with Cardinals farmhand Joe Cuda, this afternoon from his home in Palm Harbor. (He moved from Orlando to the Clearwater-Dunedin area when he was still in Toronto’s system but has relocated again.). Enjoy our chat.
Me: Let’s start with the newsiest item. You were asked to pitch for Team Italy in the WBC but declined?
Nicolino: Yeah, I got that phone call this past Sunday. I got a call from the pitching coach and he asked me if I would want to pitch for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. They asked me if I wanted come out and do that. For me, it was an honor. To get called and be given an opportunity to pitch, I think for anyone, it’s an honor. When I talked to ‘em, I just said that with the trade and everything that’s happened this offseason, I wanted to get down [to Florida] and get used to the way the Marlins did everything. That way, I can go into Spring Training knowing [how the Marlins do things]. I didn’t want to go play for Team Italy and not know anything about the Marlins, or the Marlins not knowing anything about me firsthand. I told [Team Italy], ‘Maybe down the road, call back and it might be different.’
Me: Obviously, you’re an American-born Floridian, so would it have been weird to pitch for bella Italia and against Team USA?
Nicolino: Yeah, definitely. Being an American and having Team USA — that was the funny thing that came up in my conversation with my agent. A couple years down the road, whenever I get that phone call back, ‘What would you want to do: Team USA or Team Italy?’ At that point, four years down the road who’s to say what I’d do and who’d I pitch for.
Me: Just out of curiosity, where does your Italian heritage come from?
During my most recent workday here at MiLB.com on Saturday, I wrote about some top prospects that could be traded as we near next month’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. I mentioned about 10 names and … none of them were Blue Jays.
Well, the joke is on me.
If you haven’t already heard, this was our first major offseason trade involving talented Minor Leaguers, which was first broken by Fox Sports’ Morosi/Rosenthal team on Twitter last (Tuesday) night.
Blue Jays get: Veterans Jose Reyes (shortstop), Josh Johnson (righty starter), Mark Buehrle (lefty starter), Emilio Bonifacio (utility man) and John Buck (catcher).
Marlins get: Veteran Yunel Escobar (shortstop), rookie Henderson Alvarez (righty starter) and prospects Jake Marisnick (center fielder), Justin Nicolino (lefty starter), Anthony DeSclafani (righty starter) and Adeiny Hechavarria (shortstop).
Simply put (and not giving much consideration to the Major League veterans exchanged and committed money that changed hands, both of which are beyond my scope): The Blue Jays made out well.
Here is why: Yes, they yielded three of their top seven prospects, but none are what we would call blue-chip or elite-level prospects and Toronto’s system sports the depth to simply replace them. Let’s take these guys one at a time:
Player 1: Marisnick, who hasn’t produced consistent results above low-A, has yet to prove he can be an above-average hitter. The 2009 third-round draftee has quieted some concerns with his .837 OPS through 19 Arizona Fall League games, but he remains very much a work-in-progress in the batter’s box. His defensive and base-running skills were more impressive in 2012.
Player 2: Nicolino, a third of that Lansing trio, was pretty flawless in ’12, posting a 2.46 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) while sporting a 119-21 K-BB ratio. But if we’re looking for flaws, here is one: Unlike former rotation mates Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez, Nicolino doesn’t have blow-by, dominating stuff, as evidenced by his opponents’ .246 batting average. Nicolino does have very good stuff (fastball, curveball and plus changeup), he strikes me as the kind of guy who will be more limited (than Syndergaard and Sanchez) when he competes against Class A Advanced, Double-A, Triple-A and Major League hitters. Remember, he hasn’t faced any of them yet.
Replacements: In addition to Syndergaard and Sanchez, the Jays have Sean Nolin, Deck McGuire and John Stilson coming along as well as younger hurler-in-training Roberto Osuna. That still leaves ’11- and ’12-drafted lefty starters Daniel Norris and Matthew Smoral, both of whom have a chance to be as good as or better than Nicolino in the future.
Player 3: Hechavarria is among the best fielding shortstops in baseball (and no slouch as a base-stealer), but the Jays weren’t sold enough on his hit tool to install him as the long-term response to Escobar’s inevitable exit.
Replacements: In addition to the former Met Reyes, who may not finish his current contract in Toronto (the guess here is that he won’t), the Jays front office is very high on unranked farmhand Ryan Goins. Despite the fact that Goins has not played above Double-A — he posted a .289/.342/.403 line 136 games there last year — he is now seen as the heir apparent at the position.
I would also add this: The Toronto organization All-Stars piece I filed recently (and which will run the middle of next month) did not include any of the four Jays-turned-Marlins. It just so happens that Gose (outfield, over Marisnick), Nolin (lefty starter, over Nicolino), Goins (shortstop, over Hechavarria) and Syndergaard (right starter, over DeSclafani) all made the list.
That softens the blow of my last, short-sighted blog post. A little bit anyway.
Editor’s note: Lost and Found is an offseason series in which one underrated prospect from each of the 30 MLB clubs will be discussed in a short, snappy post.
Lost: Sean Nolin had this unenviable scenario unfold in 2010: He was drafted after that Noah Syndergaard-Aaron Sanchez-Justin Nicolino trio in 2010 and, unlike each of those top pitching prospects, did not begin his career as smoothly.
2010-2011: 32 G — 28 GS — 4-6 W-L — 3.82 ERA — .262 .AVG — 149-41 K-BB – 129 2/3 IP at Rookie-level Bluefield, Auburn and Class A Lansing
Found: The sixth-round choice turned improved dramatically in his third pro season, doing many what many elite prospects do: upping their game against higher-level competition. His opponents’ batting average has decreased at each new level, including the .170 mark he held Eastern League (AA) hitters to this year, his restorative year.
2012: 20 G — 18 S — 10-0 — 2.04 ERA — .218 .AVG — 108-27 K-BB — 101 1/3 IP at Class A Advanced Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire
So Nolin was lost, now he is found. Now, about the Blue Jays’ returns: Soon to turn 23 and now Toronto’s No. 19 prospect, Nolin deserves to be in that Syndergaard-Sanchez-Nicolino group. His low-to-mid-90-mph fastball is a touch below Syndergaard’s and Sanchez’s, and his changeup is almost or about as good as Nicolino’s, which is saying something. The less-lauded lefty also has immense confidence in his curveball, while his slider has perhaps the greatest potential to improve. He should begin ’13 at Double-A, which puts him a full year ahead of his fellow farmhands in development. So he may actually be the first of the four to get to the Majors, and that’s where he’s headed.