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Marlins welcome Mesa with open arms

Club's No. 2 prospect 'very comfortable' after first day of big league workouts
February 18, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before taking the field for the first time wearing a Marlins uniform, Victor Victor Mesa received plenty of support from his teammates and coaches.Ranked as Miami's No. 2 prospect, and 99th overall by MLB Pipeline, Mesa was the top international prospect on the market before signing for

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before taking the field for the first time wearing a Marlins uniform, Victor Victor Mesa received plenty of support from his teammates and coaches.
Ranked as Miami's No. 2 prospect, and 99th overall by MLB Pipeline, Mesa was the top international prospect on the market before signing for $5.25 million in October.
"I feel very comfortable," Mesa said through a translator after the first full-squad practice. "Many of the veteran players have approached me, with that as a first step of having the teammate relationship. That's made me very happy, very comfortable."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Mesa, 22, defected from Cuba last May along with his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and they haven't played in organized games in more than a year.
Mesa Jr., 17, will be in Minor League camp, and the two will be brought along at their own pace.
Third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez, who also was born in Cuba, already has established a relationship with Victor Victor Mesa to help him acclimate to Spring Training.

"I'm very happy," Mesa said. "[Gonzalez] knows of my dad from the time he played in Cuba. I'm very happy just having that connection with Fredi."
Mesa's father, Victor, was a legendary player and manager in Cuba, and is expected to attend Spring Training.
"Baseball is baseball anywhere in the world," Gonzalez said. "It's just the language, and I tried to make him feel comfortable as much as I can. [Mesa] was born in Cuba. I've been here a little longer than him. I can speak both languages. Whatever he needs on the field, or if he needs to pull me aside for some reason, I told him to feel comfortable coming over."
Be ready to compete
All 68 players on the roster are now in camp, and they took the field after a series of meetings with everyone from chief executive officer Derek Jeter to manager Don Mattingly.
Competition is one of the messages in camp.
"I've said to the guys before," Jeter said, "competition eliminates complacency. That's that bottom line. You have to take the field like you're trying to keep your job every year. That's the approach I took when I was a player. That's the approach I'm going to have for this organization. The best players that we have in this organization, the most talented players, are going to be given the opportunity to play."

Preparing for pitch clock
As part of pace-of-play initiatives, MLB is in the process of experimenting with a pitch clock, which if implemented will be 20 seconds.
In anticipation of a clock eventually being part of the game, the Marlins are taking measures now to get their pitchers in the habit of establishing a quick tempo. Actually, the organization is preaching to its pitchers to not delay between pitches.
"From a pitching standpoint, we want our pitchers to control tempo," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We want them to keep a tempo when they're on the mound. To work aggressively toward disrupting the timing and the rhythm of those in the batters' box.
"Whenever that rule comes down, we'll be ready and willing to make it work. Just from a pitching standpoint, our pitchers work with tempo. They understand that that's part of keeping pressure on the opposing team. Working fast. Working crisply. Staying on the dirt and keeping the pressure. From that standpoint, it won't be an issue for us."
Position to watch
Martín Prado was working at first base on the first day of full-squad practice. The organization has already announced its plan to use Brian Anderson at third base, putting Prado in position to split time at first base.
Left-handed-hitting Neil Walker is a candidate to be the regular at first, or at least in a platoon situation with Prado.
On Monday, Prado, Peter O'Brien and Garrett Cooper worked at first base, with Anderson and Walker seeing time at third base.
Up next
Full-squad workouts continue on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. ET at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. They're open to the public.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.