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Pitching a change with prospects


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JUPITER, Fla. -- Having so many quality arms in camp has caused a rethinking of how the Marlins will stockpile pitchers at all their Minor League levels.

Since Admin Beinfest became general manager in 2002, the team has had a philosophy of promoting their top young pitching prospects to the Majors from as high as Double-A Carolina. It doesn't always work out this way, but in 2003, Dontrelle Willis made the leap from Double-A to the Major Leagues without ever pitching in Triple-A. Last year, the organization dipped into Double-A to give opportunities to Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen and Jason Vargas.


Triple-A Albuquerque was reserved more for pitchers and hitters with some big league experience.


The influx of so many young arms through various trades and draft picks now has the team thinking of placing highly-considered prospects at Triple-A Albuquerque.


A recent roster cut showed that strategy, as left-hander Renyel Pinto was optioned to Triple-A. Pinto went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA over five innings with the Marlins this spring in Grapefruit League competition. The organization anticipates using him as a starter, although he may eventually be moved to the bullpen.


Before being obtained by the Marlins from the Cubs as part of the Juan Pierre trade, the 23-year-old Venezuelan native threw 22 2/3 innings with Triple-A Iowa in 2005. Pinto may eventually be joined by some of the inexperienced big-league arms who don't make the Opening Day roster. If Johnson or Olsen doesn't break camp with the club, chances are they would start off in Triple-A. But both are strongly in the hunt for rotation spots with the Marlins.


On the move: Carlos Martinez is a 20-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela, with a 96 mph fastball, a split fastball, slider and two-seam faster. The right-hander has hung around big-league camp longer than some might have suspected, based on his inexperience. Yet, he has shown promise and has the makings of a future closer. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2000, Martinez opened last season at Class A Jupiter, logging 22 saves and striking out 65 in 60 2/3 innings. He saw brief action in Double-A, and he made two appearances at Triple-A Albuquerque.


Budding staff: Low Class A Greensboro promises to be stocked with capable pitchers, because the Grasshoppers may open with a number of the first-round picks from a year ago. In the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, the Marlins had three first-round picks and two sandwich choices, which both went toward pitchers. Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, Ryan Tucker and Sean West are also starting candidates who either will open up in Greensboro or possibly as high as Class A Jupiter. In their first outings, Thompson and Tucker had tremendous performances.


On the rebound: Battling back from Tommy John surgery in a big way is right-hander Chris Leroux, a seventh-round pick in 2005 out of Winthrop University. A Canadian native, Leroux missed all of last season recovering from the surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews. Thus far, Leroux has been impressive. At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, Leroux is a young prospect with tremendous upside, assuming he remains healthy.


Big bat: One of the top young hitters in the organization is Gaby Sanchez, a first baseman selected in the fourth round last year out of the University of Miami. Sanchez is playing mostly first base but was a catcher in college and could end up behind the plate. For now, he is a corner infielder with power and is a natural hitter.


Rising reliever: Jacob Marceaux, a 22-year-old right-hander and the club's third first-round pick a year ago, is on the fast track as a reliever. The right-hander could open in Jupiter.


Names in the game: Ed Romero is in his second season as the organization's infield coordinator. As a player, Romero spent parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues, debuting in 1977 with the Brewers. He also saw action with Boston, Atlanta and Detroit. He appeared in the World Series twice, with the Brewers in 1982 and Red Sox in 1986.


Stat machine: Both shortstop candidates to make the team, prospects Hanley Ramirez and Robert Andino, are having strong springs at the plate. Ramirez is hitting .381 (16-for-42) and appears to have emerged as the top prospect on the team. Andino is batting .333 (11-for-33).


What they're saying: "I have been throwing good. When I get a chance to pitch in the game, I just try to show them what I can do. I don't know what they are going to do here." -- Martinez, on his big-league camp experience



Im really intrigued by Carlos martinez specially seeing that he's just 20 yrs old.

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