Minor League Report: Relievers
Nestor and De La Cruz will get to refine pitches in system
JUPITER, Fla. -- After a season where the bullpen performed higher than expectations, the Marlins organization appears well stocked in reliever prospects.
Recent cuts in big league camp have bolstered the bullpens of the Minor League squads.
Scott Nestor and Eulogio De La Cruz, both promising back-end hard-throwers, weren't really able to get consistent work in big league camp, because the Marlins initially opened with 38 pitchers.
Now they will throw more regularly, and be given more time to develop.
"All the kids have a real good work ethic," Marlins pitching coach Mark Wiley said. "Another thing, which I like about our kids in this organization, and the kids we picked up from Detroit, is there is no fear in them.
"Fear can be a real handicap for pitchers in the development process. They may not always execute, and they may overthrow some, but fear doesn't affect us, which is big. De La Cruz has a tremendous arm. He needed more innings to get effective, and into a normal rhythm."
Nestor is a closer candidate for Triple-A Albuquerque.
"Nestor was real impressive. He commanded his fastball, and he has a very nice slider," Wiley said. "He was good every time out. The development people did a terrific job with him. He really impressed us."
De La Cruz, Burke Badenhop and Dallas Trahern all came to the Marlins from the Tigers in the Dontrelle Willis-Miguel Cabrera deal.
Badenhop and Trahern offer versatility because they throw sinkers and they can either start or relieve.
"Guys who can sink the ball, and get ground balls," Wiley said, "if they can come in and throw strikes, [they can relieve]."
On the move: Right-handed reliever Carlos Martinez was optioned to Albuquerque on Tuesday before he even threw a pitch at big league camp. That's because the Dominican Republic native dealt with visa issues that detained him up until a few days ago. Since he was so far behind, he wouldn't have had a realistic chance to make the club. If healthy, Martinez has a chance to be an impact reliever fairly quickly during the season.
On the mend: Reliever prospect Harvey Garcia remains sidelined with a shoulder problem that has kept him out of action just about the entire spring.
Names in the game: Brandon Hyde is about to enter his first season managing Class A Jupiter, after he managed Double-A Carolina in '07. A former catcher in the White Sox system, Hyde previously managed the low Class A Greensboro squad. He also was a coach at his alma mater, Long Beach State.
Worth watching: Some young prospects to monitor throughout the spring are right-handers Kyle Winters (picked in the fifth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft), Chris LeRoux (seventh-rounder in '05) and Hector Correa (fourth-rounder in '06). Correa is a 19-year-old with a terrific upside.
They're No. 1: Right-hander Chris Volstad is getting a long look in big league camp, and he remains in contention for a rotation spot. Left-hander Aaron Thompson and right-hander Ryan Tucker are getting closer to being big league ready, but they were sent down for more seasoning. Thompson and Tucker were part of the '05 first-round Draft class. Brett Sinkbeil, the top Draft choice in '06, has impressed the big league coaches. He also was just sent down.
Class of '07: First-round Draft pick Matt Dominguez, an 18-year-old third baseman, is among the top prospects in the organization, and outfielder Mike Stanton is an impressive-looking athlete, who was taken in the second round.
What they're saying: "Even in the Minor Leagues last year, I had problems on 0-2. I've just got to learn how to get that out pitch going, and getting that out pitch going early will help for the rest of the game," -- pitching prospect Gaby Hernandez on closing out hitters once he gets in two-strike counts
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.