I would not normally post about only a single start for a Miami Marlins prospect, but Jacksonville Suns left-handed starter Justin Nicolino threw a gem last night. Nicolino showcased his elite command against the Montgomery Biscuits. He went 9 innings, allowed 0 runs on 7 hits, and did not walk a batter while striking out 4. He did all this in only 92 pitches. The win made him 9-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.95.
Nicolino has continued along his expected path of development this season, and figures to either play a big role in the Marlins rotation next season or maybe even in trade talks. Here is a link to my post about Nicolino last month.
My opinion has not changed on him; I am still excited about his middle of the rotation potential, above average "stuff" and elite command of the strike zone. After watching him a few times lately, I may even be higher on him that most people. When Nicolino pitches it is clear that he has a good idea of how he wants to attack each hitter. While most young pitchers struggle with this part of their development, it seems Nicolino is well ahead of the curve. Here is an excerpt from a FanGraphs article by David Laurila about Nicolino, from early 2014. The rest of the article is an interview with Nicolino, which is well worth a read.
Justin Nicolino has been called "an intelligent student of the game." It’s an accurate description and a big reason the 22-year-old southpaw is one of the top prospects in the Miami Marlins organization. He thrives on more than guile. Nicolino has better stuff than most crafty lefties.
With many expecting Miami to be active in the trade market, I'm sure Nicolino's name will come up in discussions. The Marlins would like to hold onto him, but to get talent you have to give up talent. Wherever Nicolino winds up you can expect him to be pounding the strike zone in a Major League uniform this time next season.