Jose Urena was not in the Miami Marlins' original plans to begin the 2015 campaign. But things have changed, and the pitching prospect now has an opportunity to impress the club at the major league level.
Miami placed Henderson Alvarez, Don Kelly, and Jeff Mathis on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, and in the corresponding moves recalled Reid Brignac, J.T. Realmuto, and Carter Capps. David Phelps was placed on the paternity list to complete Miami's Monday moves, and Urena, who took his spot on the 25-man roster, was expected to be demoted when Phelps was activated.
Phelps will start on Friday against the Mets, but it was Capps who was optioned back to Triple-A. The Marlins cut Urena early in camp because they had a notable amount of starting depth, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, and they wanted to give Urena additional minor league experience. Urena, 23, is one of the Marlins' upper level pitching prospects who opened the year in New Orleans rotation. Before being promoted, he made one start and was efficient, allowing one run while striking out five in six innings. Frisaro notes the Marlins wanted to keep Urena with the Zephyrs for as long as possible while acknowledging he could make his major league debut as soon as this season. Urena did so against the Braves, tossing a scoreless ninth inning on Tuesday.
Phelps will be the Marlins' fifth starter until Alvarez is healthy, and if they need another starter, Brad Hand is an experienced option. Urena, for now, will serve as an additional long relief option, and if Phelps struggles, Urena could be called upon.
Frisaro adds Urena still needs to improve command of his breaking ball, and it is unlikely the Marlins continue to use him in a relief role moving forward. If he still needs to develop, Triple-A may be the best option. But until then, Urena has an opportunity to prove he can be consistent with the Marlins.