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Notes: Boxberger's feat; prospects take mound

@JoeFrisaro
February 14, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nine pitches, nine strikes, three straight strikeouts. The “immaculate inning,” a rare feat for any pitcher, entails striking out the side on nine pitches.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nine pitches, nine strikes, three straight strikeouts.

The “immaculate inning,” a rare feat for any pitcher, entails striking out the side on nine pitches.

Brad Boxberger, the newest of the Marlins relievers in Spring Training, is part of a comparatively small fraternity to accomplish the feat.

On May 8, 2014, against the Orioles, Boxberger inherited a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth inning. He retired the next three batters on nine pitches, fanning Steve Pearce, Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph.

“In that situation, I’m just trying to go out there and get the first out and just limit the damage, if any,” Boxberger said on Friday morning. “I was fortunate enough to go out there and do that, but you can’t expect that every time.”

The Marlins announced Friday that Boxberger had signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

“He's another veteran guy to put in the mix and compete for the bullpen,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s coming in on a Minor League deal, but he obviously has a track record of being able to close games at the end. That means he’s pitched in some leverage situations. That’s another guy to add to the mix.”

Miami has reshaped its bullpen, a unit that a year ago held the sixth-highest ERA (4.97) in the Majors.

Boxberger, who pitched for the Royals last year and was in the Minors with the Nationals and the Reds, had his fastball reach 96 mph in workouts for clubs this offseason.

An All-Star with the Rays in 2015, Boxberger said his immaculate inning the year before was a confidence builder.

“Just coming into that situation, in general, isn’t easy,” Boxberger said. “But coming into it at that point of my career was kind of a turning moment. To say, ‘This is what I can do.’"

In MLB history, 93 pitchers, including seven in 2019, have thrown an immaculate inning. Nationals All-Star Stephen Strasburg did it against the Marlins on July 3.

When Boxberger had his historical moment in 2014, he wasn’t fully aware of it.

“I didn’t even realize that until I was done with the outing, and then after the game,” Boxberger said. “I just kind of blacked out in that moment.”

Prospects throw 'pens
In the first couple of days of Spring Training, members of the Marlins' projected rotation threw off the mounds for the first time. On Friday, it was the chance for several top prospects.

Edward Cabrera, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami’s No. 6 prospect, Braxton Garrett (No. 7), Trevor Rogers (No. 8) and Jordan Holloway (No. 18) made their Spring Training debuts off the mound.

Cabrera projects to open the season at Triple-A Wichita, while Garrett, Rogers and Holloway all could be in Double-A Jacksonville's rotation.

Both Cabrera and Holloway have a fastball that has reached 100 mph.

Cabrera, who is considered a top-of-the-rotation prospect, experienced a breakthrough 2019 campaign. Between Class A Advanced Jupiter and Jacksonville, he compiled a 2.23 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings.

A highlight for Cabrera came on May 1, when he had a 13-strikeout performance for Jupiter.

“All of my pitches were right there that day,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “Every pitch I was throwing was doing everything that I wanted it to do. After that game, everything started like improving. Things started coming together.”

Holloway, meanwhile, had some struggles at Jupiter. In 21 starts, he posted a 4.45 ERA in 95 innings.

“I really busted my butt in the offseason to get into a more comfortable position as to where last year; it was really exciting,” said Holloway, who is in his second big league camp. “Last year, I was a little nervous. This year, I feel much more comfortable. There’s a lot of good guys that have your back.”

MSD Strong
At precisely 10:17 a.m. ET on Friday, the horn rang and Marlins workouts stopped for a 17-second moment of silence. Players, staff and everyone in attendance stood at attention and removed their caps.

The tribute was in honor of the second anniversary of the tragic shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., located about 50 miles from Jupiter.

That day, 17 were killed.

On Friday afternoon, representatives from the Marlins, including outfielder Lewis Brinson, who grew up in Coral Springs, Fla., visited Parkland as part of a tribute event.

Up next
Pitchers and catchers’ workouts resume at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. Practices are 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.