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2015 Miami Marlins Prospect Profile: Jose Urena

Rising to the occasion in 2014 while playing for Double-A Jacksonville Suns, Jose Urena came out guns blazing – something we have become accustomed to seeing the Bani, Dominican Republic native do since joining the Miami Marlins organization in 2009. Urena is not only highlighted for being ranked on the Marlins top ten prospects lists, but is notable for his high-powered right-arm that features a fastball touching a maximum effort velocity of 98 mph. This same arm regularly sits on auto pilot at around 92-95 mph. The advanced feel for and  dominant control of this fastball, marked his path to being capped a 2014 Mid-Season All-Star –  recording a 6.8 K/9 ratio and 3.42 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) while walking just 29 hitters in 162 innings pitched. Urena averaged six innings a start and went seven strong on 10 occasions over 25 starts this past season.

Showcasing his electric fastball with a loose sling-shot type arm-action is, of course, the bread and butter of Urena’s whole arsenal, allowing his other off-speed pitches to play up. His best secondary offering is the change-up, which he tends to throw at an above-average capacity more consistently than his slider and curveball. Although the slider can be effective as another out pitch for Urena, it tends to be thrown below-average more often than not. His curveball is more of a “show-me” curveball that is scarcely used as a developmental 4th pitch at this time.

While the limber slinging arm-action will have to be worked on as well as his off-speed offers, he has the stats to back up his hype. They highlight what every front office GM likes to see in their young stars – a steady progression in their stat line from year to year. Over his last four seasons in the minors he has reduced his WHIP from 1.417 (2011) to 1.136 (2014), increased his SO/BB ratio from 1.66 (2011) to 4.17 (2014), striking out a total of 121 batters in 2014 and stranded 73% of runners on base.

Unfortunately, the Marlins are already heavily stocked with right-handed arms, especially once we see the return of rookie sensation Jose Fernandez. Jose Urena’s path to making his big league debut in 2015 will not be an easy one, unless there are unforeseen injuries to the Marlins staff. This assumes of course that the Miami Marlins front office view Urena’s prospect value higher than that of his right-handed counterpart, Trevor Williams. Williams pitched for the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads in 2014. He pitched only 15 innings at the Double-A level last season and tallied a 1.87 WHIP and a .368 BABIP, but he also posted a noble 3.17 FIP with a 6.87 K/9 ratio in 129 innings with the Hammerheads.

If the theory behind the reliever idea holds true, then there is a chance you could see Jose Urena go lights out in early spring minor league performances and make the Marlins big league pen as a reliever by mid-season. If that theory doesn’t entice you, then reality looks for him to open the season as a starter at Triple-A New Orleans, or possibly at Double-A Jacksonville for some extra polishing – a move the Marlins organization is prone to making to protect their top prospect pitchers. Hoping that with some extra seasoning at the minor league level, Urena can make an impact later on in the season as a September call-up, hopefully slotting in the big league rotation as either a spot starter or long reliever.

With everything considered, Jose Urena will be an exciting prospect to follow in 2015.

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Important Spring Training Dates to Note for Marlins Fans

February 20th, 2015 will mark the beginning to a successful era of Miami Marlins Baseball. In less than 24-hours Marlins pitchers and catchers will report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The site that’s been the spring training home of the Marlins since 2003, after spending 10 years prior to that at Viera’s Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL. Sharing their spring training digs with the ballyhooed franchise of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Miami Marlins will hope all the off-season transactions made to boost the roster on a team that finished 4th in the NL east last season and will hope to mirror the success of their training mates the Redbirds for the 2015 season.

Now let’s take a look at important dates for fans to mark on their calendars:

February 20th: Pitchers and Cather’s report to camp

February 21st: First workout for Pitcher and Catchers

February 21st: Players will be at Marlins Park to attend the Winter Warm-Up festivities

February 24th: Position Players report to camp

February 25th: First Full Team Workout

March 2nd: First exhibition game vs. Florida International University

March 3rd: Second exhibition game vs. University of Miami (FL)

March 5th: First Spring Training game at Roger Dean Stadium vs. St. Louis Cardinals

*Note: All Exhibition/Spring Training games listed have a scheduled start time of 1:05 pm EST

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to watch the young, new and today’s Miami Marlins stars from the beginning. Our march to the 2015 playoffs starts February 20th. See you there!

David Phelps Takes The Loss At Arbitration Hearing

When David Phelps sat down with the Miami Marlins Front Office last month, he was asking for a 1 year deal that would pay him around $2 million for the season.

A deal of that magnitude was never considered by the Marlins organization, sending Phelps to his Arbitration Hearing, where again he came out a loser. Phelps requested $1.875 million from the arbiter hearing his case, but was quickly denied his number and forced to settle for a 1-year deal worth $1.4 million.

Time will tell if Phelps is actually worth the 1.875 million is was asking for, as he will start this season battling for the 5th spot in the Marlins opening day rotation. More than likely he will end up as a long reliever, with the occasional spot start here and there based on how he does coming out of the pen in 2015.

Have we underestimated Avery Romero Potential?

"Is he deserving as the Organizations #1 Prospect?"
“Is he deserving as the Organizations #1 Prospect?”

It’s clear baseballamerica.com and the Fish have dubbed their #1 prospect a giant right-handed high-school hurler. Who, on a consist basis cheeses up scouts radar guns to the tune of 100 MPH. Standing at 6’5’’/260 Ibs it’s easy to see why everyone is excited about the high-ceiling future of Tyler Kolek from Shepherd, TX. He possesses tools that are just un-teachable, and at the current age of 19 years-old he already has a progressive feel for two of his off-speed options, in his slider and curveball. Working to master his change-up, and gaining control of his arsenal in the strike zone so he doesn’t come out Rick Vaughn’ing the batter’s boxes like the plates got the plague. Only further seasoning will give us more insight into his future, but for the 2015 season is he the true number one?

Going against the theorist’s prospect ranking system, I have to put my stock in the player currently ranked as the organizations #3 prospect by baseballamerica.com:

Avery Romero, 2B, Miami Marlins

Age: 21  Ht: 5’8”  Wt: 190   2014 Level: Class A-Advanced

Drafted by the Marlins in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft, this scrappy-aggressive style player has been eating up pitchers early-contact fastballs through the minor league system achieving promotions all the way up the ranks to Class A-Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads. Romero doesn’t wait for the game to come to him; he brings his energy and excitement to the game – Proven by his aggressive Vladi G. approach at the plate, effortless arm strength from second and strong hands, which could translate into increased power numbers as he fills out.

With a majority of Avery’s homeruns coming in 2014, during which he hit 5 of his 11 minor league career homeruns – a high percentage of them to his pull side of the field. We are going to have to wait and assess how the power comes along and contributes to his future slash statistics. But the steady build up in maturity and earnest to improve his footwork in the infield, paired with the tremendous raise in production on the offense side of the ball, all make him a strong consideration for the Marlins #1 prospect rating.

Since joining the organization in 2012 Avery Romero has registered slashes of:

2012 (GCL/SS-A): .246/.331/.352 in 164 PA

2013 (GBO/BAT): .276/.341/.391 in 265 PA

2014 (GBO/JUP): .320/.367/.423 in 507 PA

Now humor me for a minute and compare Romero’s 2014 slashes with the likes of the “Lazer Show” Dustin Pedroia  at the age of 21 in the minors – (2005-.293/.385/.452) in 538 PA. Who  stands at the same scarlet lettered 5’8” frame and contains the same scrappy-aggressive like tools on both sides of the ball, with strong-hands driving the ball to the pull side of the field. Showing flashes of long-ball capabilities as he filled out in the minor league systems. Combine the already stated similarities with the additional mirror image that they both contained the same hustle induced speed and a rise of in patience at the plate:

Avery Romero (2014-Afull/Aadv.): 10 SBA/ 32 BB

Dustin Pedroia (2005-AA/AAA): 8 SBA/ 58 BB

With all these strange similarities, it’s hard to argue that the future doesn’t look bright for Avery Romero. Though, I may have leaped into the world of wild imagination and large skepticism, that’s the glory of ranking prospects. Who’s to say he can or can’t turn into the next Dustin Pedroia or the next greatest Marlin. With the current upgrades of Dee Gordon and Martin Prado, the grand idea that Romero could shift over to third base and Martin Prado could be that plug player. Should get us excited to think we could be seeing Romero in the Show very soon.

So, with these facts at hand, and regards to other top Marlin prospects like Justin Nicolino, Tyler Kolek and J.T Realmuto. I have to give my #1 prospect vote to Avery Romero.