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Elih Villaneuva making case for rotation


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JUPITER, Fla. -- As a non-roster invitee, Elih Villanueva is in Marlins camp looking to do more than make an impression. The 24-year-old right-hander is aiming to make the team.

 

It's still a long shot, but based on how he's performed, coupled with some ailments in the rotation, Villanueva is giving the club something to think about.

 

After tossing four shutout innings on Sunday in a 5-1 loss to the Nationals, he has now pitched nine scoreless innings in Grapefruit League games.

 

"My approach coming in here was to make the club and show what I can do and put myself out there," said the right-hander, who was 14-4 with a 2.26 ERA at Double-A Jacksonville last year. "We'll see how it goes from here."

 

Because of some mild ailments, the Marlins suddenly have some concerns about their rotation.

 

Late Sunday afternoon, the team announced Javier Vazquez has some mild soreness in his right elbow. It's not believed to be serious, but the 34-year-old was scratched from making his scheduled start on Monday. Instead, Alex Sanabia got the start against the Twins in Fort Myers, Fla.

 

The Marlins are hopeful that Vazquez misses just one start, but they will have to see how his elbow responds.

 

Vazquez told manager Edwin Rodriguez that his goal is to be ready for the regular season, which begins on April 1 against the Mets at Sun Life Stadium.

 

Also, Anibal Sanchez has discomfort in his right shin/calf area after he was struck by a liner on Thursday. His ankle also is bothering him, so his status is unclear.

 

There is still time for the rotation to be healthy before the opener, but as it's less than three weeks away, there is some uncertainty.

 

One reason the Marlins signed Vazquez as a free agent was to bring a veteran presence to the rotation, as well as allow some of the prospects time to develop.

 

If everyone is healthy, the Marlins rotation shapes up as Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Vazquez, Sanchez and Chris Volstad. If that's the case, then Villanueva and Sanabia would be part of a talented Triple-A New Orleans staff. Sean Hill, another non-roster invitee, is also a candidate to make the club if there is a rotation opening.

 

As the scenario plays itself out, Villanueva is making his case.

 

"Not only is he throwing the ball well, but his poise on the mound has been impressive," Rodriguez said. "He knows what he's doing on the mound. It's always good to know you have some depth. It gives you options."

http://florida.marlins.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110314&content_id=16943832&vkey=news_fla&c_id=fla

 

Whether he makes it out of camp or not (which I doubt he will right now with still two weeks left for everyone to get healthy), its good to know we have a guy like this on call. He's proving the doubters who say he can't get guys out at the major league level wrong with every scoreless inning he throws. 9 scoreless and counting for Elih.

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Bottom line in all this, which I've loved all offseason, is that we have clear depth that isnt being forced to the majors. In years past, we'd have, say, JJ and Ricky and then we'd be forced to cross our fingers and count on Hill, Villanueva, and Sanabia. Now, those are just our backups and not our first line of support. Guys like Hendrickson and Robertson were serious stopgaps, we seem to finally be past those kinds of starters.

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We're in a lot of trouble if he gets significant innings this year. I would put him at least 15 back on the depth chart behind the starting 5, Sanabia, West, Hill,, Koehler, Hand, and even stretching out Badenhop, Hensley, or Sanches. And probably a healthy Poveda, Rosario, and Mendez as well.

 

I am not joking. This is my serious font.

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We're in a lot of trouble if he gets significant innings this year. I would put him at least 15 back on the depth chart behind the starting 5, Sanabia, West, Hill,, Koehler, Hand, and even stretching out Badenhop, Hensley, or Sanches. And probably a healthy Poveda, Rosario, and Mendez as well.

 

I am not joking. This is my serious font.

 

 

 

You have silly font? May I see it?

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We're in a lot of trouble if he gets significant innings this year. I would put him at least 15 back on the depth chart behind the starting 5, Sanabia, West, Hill,, Koehler, Hand, and even stretching out Badenhop, Hensley, or Sanches. And probably a healthy Poveda, Rosario, and Mendez as well.

 

I am not joking. This is my serious font.

 

 

 

You have silly font? May I see it?

Lou is the one with the blue screenname

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We're in a lot of trouble if he gets significant innings this year. I would put him at least 15 back on the depth chart behind the starting 5, Sanabia, West, Hill,, Koehler, Hand, and even stretching out Badenhop, Hensley, or Sanches. And probably a healthy Poveda, Rosario, and Mendez as well.

 

I am not joking. This is my serious font.

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[Whether he makes it out of camp or not (which I doubt he will right now with still two weeks left for everyone to get healthy), its good to know we have a guy like this on call. He's proving the doubters who say he can't get guys out at the major league level wrong with every scoreless inning he throws. 9 scoreless and counting for Elih.

 

 

Gotta say, the kid looked good Sunday. He has become my wife's long shot fav this ST. I just think it's nice to know we have options available.

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Two words: Yusmiero Petit. If he pitches for us, it's going to be a laser show as soon as the scouting report gets out. Bombs away.

 

The "B" squad is Sanabia, West, Hill, Koehler, and probably Hand (come midseason anyways). And you really have to wonder if literally a bomb explodes and all arms get hurt or completely ineffective, if they wouldn't just stretch out Badenhop or Hensley instead of going the vagabond minor leaguer route.

 

We have the most pitching depth we've had in years with probably a solid group of 20 pitchers that won't embarrass themselves like Andrew Miller, Hayden Penn, and Brett Sinkbiel, but this guy currently is not one of them. I hate to rag on someone, but his minor league performance despite solid numbers across the board arent't going to translate well to the bigs right now. He needs an out pitch. Major leaguers won't be fooled by his control. Just like, Yusmiero Petit. Those other guys listed might not be world beaters, but they have major league "stuff" and a significant better chance at providing quality innings, just like Sanabia did awesomely last year.

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Two words: Yusmiero Petit. If he pitches for us, it's going to be a laser show as soon as the scouting report gets out. Bombs away.

 

The "B" squad is Sanabia, West, Hill, Koehler, and probably Hand (come midseason anyways). And you really have to wonder if literally a bomb explodes and all arms get hurt or completely ineffective, if they wouldn't just stretch out Badenhop or Hensley instead of going the vagabond minor leaguer route.

 

We have the most pitching depth we've had in years with probably a solid group of 20 pitchers that won't embarrass themselves like Andrew Miller, Hayden Penn, and Brett Sinkbiel, but this guy currently is not one of them. I hate to rag on someone, but his minor league performance despite solid numbers across the board arent't going to translate well to the bigs right now. He needs an out pitch. Major leaguers won't be fooled by his control. Just like, Yusmiero Petit. Those other guys listed might not be world beaters, but they have major league "stuff" and a significant better chance at providing quality innings, just like Sanabia did awesomely last year.

 

 

I still think he could be a long reliever type for us, look at Brian Sanches, he's been one of our most reliable bullpen guys for 2 years now. If you have great control, there's usually a spot for you in the bigs.

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Brian Sanches also has a plus out pitch with his split finger/slider. I don't think that is a good comparison unless Elih develops a new pitch or one improves drastically. Not saying he can't do it, because really Sanches just developed the split finger 2-3 years ago and that's when he started having success, and Hensley did this as well with his changeup, but it's asking for a lot for a guy who doesn't have premium "stuff" and has been a control specialist. Sanches and Hensley have better arms than him. They have a better natural chance to improve based on their arm. Elih hasn't shown it yet, and likely really won't. I really think Petit, or a Graham Taylor, is the comp here unfortunately.

 

This is also why Koehler is a better bet, among our less heralded pitching prospects, to make it as he has a gun. I'd be more excited about him if we want to fall in love with guys outside our top 10 prospects.

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I'm not a big fan of his either, but he's not behind all of those guys on the depth chart, at the moment.

Sean West, for example, has pitched like ass and I think the Marlins are running out of patience with him. They seem rather disappointed in West every time they comment on him.

 

Based on organizational comments, Spring Training performance, etc., Villanueva is 7th/8th on the SP depth chart, at the moment. The starting five, Sanabia, and maybe Hill/Koehler are in that mix, as well. I don't think he's as low as 15 for this year, although he does have limited upside, imo. Guys like Hand need more time.

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