Before completing the J.T. Realmuto trade featuring consensus Top 50 prospect Sixto Sánchez, Nick Neidert was seen as the Marlins pitching prospect most likely to make a significant impact at the major league level during their rebuild. While he never had the highest ceiling in the farm system, the right-hander seemed to have one of the highest floors. He rode his plus command to a 12-7 record with a 3.24 ERA over 26 starts with the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in 2018, earning Marlins minor league pitcher of the year honors. Neidert was seemingly on the fast track to Miami.
The 22-year-old hit a bump on the road, though. He struggled with a 8.71 ERA over his first three starts for Triple-A New Orleans in April, then missed the best part of three months after undergoing knee surgery for a torn meniscus.
It is unknown whether the injury contributed to the poor start—we will get the answer shortly as Neidert is scheduled to be our next guest on the Fish Stripes podcast—but what is clear is that he is looking much more comfortable since his midsummer return. He has been verging on dominant over the past month.
Final line for Neidert is a beauty: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K on 99 pitches https://t.co/mjXJu2Ly7U— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) August 21, 2019
The former second-round pick has pitched to a 1.96 ERA over 23 innings this month, striking out 26 while issuing only eight walks. That includes six shutout innings on Tuesday night.
Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett, and Trevor Rogers may have leapfrogged him in the prospect rankings while he was on the shelf, but there are plenty of reasons to have renewed faith in Neidert’s potential.
Consider these two scouting reports below:
Regarded as a back-of-the-rotation starter coming into 2019, [Pitcher 1] has raised his profile with improved stuff and command... His low-90s fastball has added a tick or two of velocity this year, now topping out at 95 and playing up because he creates downward plane and locates it so well. [Pitcher 1] also keeps hitters off balance by varying the speed on his changeup and curveball, with the latter a slightly better offering.
He’s not flashy but his 92-95 mph fastball plays up because it has late movement and he commands it well. His plus changeup is his best pitch and his curveball flashes above-average potential. In terms of pure stuff, [Pitcher 2] profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter. But his advanced command of his entire repertoire could make him a No. 3 starter.
The first is that of recent trade departure Zac Gallen; the second report describes Neidert. The similarities between the two reports are encouraging considering that casual fans are not always sold on minor league stats, especially casual Marlins fans who feel misled about Lewis Brinson (and to a much, much smaller extent, Isan Díaz).
Gallen’s rookie production with the Marlins and Diamondbacks is proof that Neidert's pitcher profile is one that can thrive in the majors, giving the Marlins yet another young pitcher that they may be able to build around for the future. Neidert probably won't be a future ace like Sixto Sánchez has the potential to be, but a solid, consistent arm is always a good place to start when building a championship contender.
Popular media outlets have been sleeping on Nick Neidert this year due to a non-throwing injury, but he is once again showing why the Marlins are so high on him, and why you should be excited for his projected 2020 arrival in Miami.