Neidert looks to make up for lost time in AFL

Top prospect, now healthy, could compete for Miami rotation spot

September 18th, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If not for a left meniscus injury, would have been in line for a big league promotion in June, and if not then, certainly in September.

But the 2019 regular season didn’t go as expected for Neidert, the Marlins’ No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old prospect was limited to 54 combined Minor League innings due to a meniscus tear that required surgery.

For the next month, Neidert has a golden opportunity to salvage his season by pitching for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, which opens play on Wednesday. Neidert is scheduled to start in the opener against the Peoria Javelinas at Salt River Fields.

“It was frustrating, for sure,” Neidert said of his injury-shortened year at Triple-A New Orleans. “Not the season I planned out for myself. I’m very thankful it was a knee and not an arm injury. But to get back out and pitch the last month of the season felt great. It was kind of like Spring Training in August for me. It’s a little bit different than what I’m used to.

“I get an extra month here to pitch, and get some extra innings and get even better every single day.”

Neidert is one of Miami’s most promising pitching prospects, and he will enter Spring Training with a chance to win a big league rotation spot in 2020. Yet in '19, he didn’t really get a chance to take that next step in his development.

Neidert ended up making 13 starts at three Minor League levels, and he finished 3-5 with a 4.67 ERA in 54 innings.

Now that Neidert is healthy, the right-hander gets the opportunity in the Fall League to sharpen his pitches and rack up another five or six starts, and around 20 to 30 more innings.

“The knee injury cost him innings and cost him a potential callup to the big leagues,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “Right there in the middle of June, when we had the three starters go down, Nick, had he been healthy, would have been right there at Triple-A.”

Neidert and Zac Gallen, who started the season at New Orleans, came out of Spring Training close to being at the same levels of their development. Gallen stayed healthy and ended up being traded to the D-backs on July 31 for shortstop Jazz Chisholm, now Miami’s No. 4 prospect.

“Entering the 2019 season, [Neidert] and Zac Gallen were on similar paths,” Hill said. “Neidert is younger than Zac and arguably has had as much or more success in his brief Minor League career.”

The Arizona Fall League is regarded as a “finishing school” for prospects considered close to being big league ready.

The Marlins’ prospects are all on the Salt River team, led by Miami’s Triple-A manager, Kevin Johnson.

“It’s great to be here,” Neidert said. “It’s great to be with the group of guys the Marlins sent here. I’m excited for just the opportunity to be here and pitch against some really good talent, and to play with some really good talent.

“It’s a chance to pick everybody’s brain, because everybody is a little bit different with how they approach the game. Learn every single day of pitching against these guys.”