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Examining the Potential of Nick Wittgren

As Spring Training continues on, top-notch relief prospect Nick Wittgren sits on the verge of a possible spot in the Marlins rotation. Does Wittgren have the skills to break into Miami's packed bullpen? Or does he have to continue to work in the minors

Chris Trotman

While the main focus of Spring Training for the Miami Marlins is centered on trying to figure out the landscape of the 25 man roster going into the upcoming season, it's also about the future of the organization. For a young, rebuilding team like the Marlins, a good majority of their future prospects are already with the big league squad. With that said, there are still some potential diamonds that will be hanging around in the team's farm system during the 2014 season.

A possible fit for that "diamond in the rough" description could be centered around right-handed reliever Nick Wittgren who's currently with the team as a non-roster invitee. As we stand right now, the odds of Wittgren joining the big-league squad for Opening Day are definitely slim considering the wide array of relievers that the team currently has on their active roster. With that in mind, Wittgren's uncertain MLB future shouldn't take away from his improbable journey to the position that the right-handed reliever is currently at.

As mentioned in the following piece from the Sun-Sentinel, Wittgren had ulnar nerve transfer surgery during his sophomore season at Purdue in 2010. In the near four years since that surgery that has gone from his final few seasons at Purdue until his current stint with the Marlins, Wittgren hasn't had an issues with the shoulder that he had repaired during college.

Since being selected in the 9th round of the 2012 MLB draft, Wittgren has basically been a perfect reliever as he makes his quick climb up the Marlins minor-league system. While Miami's big league club has a bevy of viable relief pitchers, the farm system only features a handful of solid, stand-out bullpen prospects. With that in mind, Wittgren has been able to bank on the combination of limited farm system depth and stand-out performance.

Wittgren's overall approach to the mound differentiates from the majority because he's not a huge hard-thrower as his fastball only reaches 92-to-94 miles per hour.  His overall effectiveness is reliant on his ability to keep the opposition off balance with solid command and location of his pitches.

That effectiveness is clearly shown by the fact that Wittgren had an amazing .89 WHIP through three separate levels of the minor leagues during the 2013 season. Wittgren ended the year with Miami's Double-A affiliate, Jacksonville Suns where he was perfect in four appearances.

As we dig deeper in the 2013 Spring Training season, it's going to be extremely important for Wittgren to make a solid impact. While the odds may be against him from making the big league roster for Opening Day, the 22 year old Wittgren can still be on the verge of a potential call-up if he makes a positive impact in front of the Marlins organization during Spring Training. As we've seen from his overall work in the MILB, it should be expected that Wittgren flourishes during his time in Spring Training.