Although the youngest pitcher in Marlins major league camp this spring, right-hander Nick Neidert is sophisticated beyond his years. Combining fastball command with multiple secondary pitches that he trusts in any count, Neidert has the traits you’re looking for in a rotation candidate.
Question is, considering the surplus of older arms ahead of him on the depth chart, when should the 22-year-old expect a call-up?
How did he get here? Traded from Mariners to Marlins on December 7, 2017
2018 MiLB Stats: 3.24 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 154 K in 152.2 IP
2019 ZiPS Projection: 4.39 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 111 K in 139.1 IP
Baseball America provides this scouting report on Neidert coming off his excellent campaign with the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (subscription required and recommended):
Listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Neidert isn’t overpowering, though his fastball regularly sits between 91-93 mph. He locates his fastball well to both sides of the plate and uses a plus changeup to prohibit hitters from sitting on his fastball. Neidert’s low-80s breaking ball doesn’t grade out much better than average, but he isn’t afraid to throw it in any count. All three of Neidert’s pitches play up because of his plus control and ability to keep hitters off-balance.
You can see each of those offerings at work during his start in Jacksonville against the Montgomery Biscuits on July 2. It was arguably Neidert’s best professional outing, matching a career high with eight innings pitched while issuing zero walks. Montgomery led the Southern League by averaging nearly five runs per game, but scratched across only one unearned run against the Georgia native on that occasion.
(Video courtesy of John Eshelmen, who coincidentally joined the Marlins organization as a scout during the offseason.)
There is certainly precedent for prospects like Neidert to skip Triple-A New Orleans en route to Miami. Trevor Richards, the Marlins’ 2017 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, did that last season, debuting during the opening homestand (though he would later get optioned to New Orleans).
However, Neidert is two-and-a-half years younger than Richards was at that point in time. With the exception of ESPN’s Keith Law, the industry considers him a consensus Top 10 prospect in the improved Marlins system. If the front office agrees with that assessment internally and project him as a viable long-term starter, they are financially incentivized to deploy him to Triple-A for at least several weeks to guarantee an extra year of club control (the 2025 season).
The Marlins invited Neidert to attend their second annual Captain’s Camp, a three-week seminar that prepares prospects to deal with challenges on and off the field. The 2019 group included just 12 players, indicating that they think very highly of him.
Neidert expected to develop with the Mariners, who selected him in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft. That plan went out the window when, determined to make the 2018 postseason, the team sent Neidert, right-hander Robert Dugger and infielder Christopher Torres to the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade (Seattle came up short of their goal anyway).
Interviewed on the Baseball & Chill podcast recently, Neidert raved about how the Marlins encourage him and every other young player to earn their spot in The Show:
“They tell everybody, ‘Listen, the best 25 guys are breaking camp and going to Marlins Park. No one has a set spot.’ So that was encouraging to me last year. If I do what I’m supposed to do and I work really hard and I prepare the right way and that transfers over to the game, then I have an opportunity...It’s such a blessing to know that we’re in an organization that’s rebuilding and wants to do that around the young talent that they have.”
By all accounts, Neidert is determined to help the Fish succeed. The question is whether he has the patience to wait his turn behind more experienced starting pitchers, and the ingenuity to continuing improving his game despite some physical limitations.
Does Nick Neidert start more games in the majors or minors this season?
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