Holloway impressing; Yamamoto optioned

July 18th, 2020

MIAMI -- A sleeper candidate has emerged to win a bullpen role.

Jordan Holloway, a hard-throwing right-hander, has appeared to literally come out of nowhere to be in the mix to make the Marlins’ Opening Day roster.

A week before the Marlins open at the Phillies on July 24, Holloway faced hitters in a scrimmage on Thursday night at Marlins Park. Among the highlights of his three outs were striking out fellow prospects Monte Harrison and Lewin Díaz.

“What he’s done in a couple of outings here has been pleasantly surprising and has put him kind of in the mix,” Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. said on a Zoom call Friday. “We have to stay open-minded. We’re going to be able to expand our roster, and there are going to be some guys that are given an opportunity that maybe in a regular season wouldn’t have been given that opportunity.”

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami’s No. 20 prospect, Holloway is already on the 40-man roster. The 24-year-old has a fastball that has reached 100 mph, and he’s healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017.

In Summer Camp, Holloway has mostly been working with prospects in Jupiter, Fla.

“This guy is going to be given a chance,” Stottlemyre said. “He’s healthy. He’s throwing strikes. He’s probably the nastiest guy we have in our bullpen.”

The fact is his pure stuff is electric, but he has struggled throwing strikes. He walked 66 in 95 innings at Class A Advanced Jupiter last year.

But that was his first full season since recovering from surgery.

“His stuff has never been in question,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s a matter of if he’s going to stay in the strike zone.”

Let the kids play
The Marlins have a deep farm system, and on Friday night, they allowed several of their better prospects to play. Outfielder JJ Bleday and infielder José Devers came down from Jupiter, Fla., to participate in the intrasquad scrimmage.

Bleday, the Marlins’ No. 2 prospect, blasted a home run off left-hander Daniel Castano.

First-base prospect Lewin Díaz added a single off Elieser Hernandez.

Bleday and Devers are not on the 40-man roster, but both are in the 60-man player pool. Neither is expected to play this year in the big leagues.

Praise for Pablo
is making a statement on the mound at the time he is dealing with personal tragedy.

The 24-year-old recently missed a few days of Summer Camp due to a death in the family. On Thursday night, López was back on the mound, and he was simply masterful.

In six shutout innings in a scrimmage, he yielded two hits, issued one walk and struck out six.

“Watching what he did [Thursday] and knowing what he’s been through,” Stottlemyre said. “Watching the transformation of that, and him growing into a young man, there’s no better feeling, as a coach, as a teammate, and what he’s able to put together. … What he’s doing now has not come easy.”

López has dealt with right shoulder issues in the past two seasons. In 2019, he went 5-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 21 starts and 111 1/3 innings.

When healthy, the Marlins are confident he is just scratching the surface.

“The little detail things of pitching and watching it all come together is so rewarding as a coach,” Stottlemyre said. “I’m so proud of him. It doesn’t come easy. We’re talking about human beings.”

Yamamoto optioned
After Friday's intrasquad game, the Marlins made a roster move that helps give more clarity to who will be the fifth starter.

Right-hander was optioned to Miami's alternate site, a transaction that likely clears the path for Hernandez to be named the fifth starter.

Yamamoto, 24, made 15 starts as a rookie in 2019, going 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA.

Without a Minor League season, players who are not on the Opening Day roster will be training at the alternate site, which is the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter.

On Friday, Hernandez pitched six innings, giving up two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and five walks. The right-hander had enjoyed a strong Spring Training, and he has also impressed in Summer Camp.

A year ago, Hernandez went 3-5 with a 5.03 ERA in 21 games (15 starts).

Aside from being announced as the Opening Day starter, the Marlins have yet to say who will follow -- and in what order.

But there are some indications, based on how the starters are being used in Summer Camp, that indicate what the rest of the rotation may look like.

This is certainly subject to change, but following Alcantara appears to be , López, and whoever wins the fifth-starter spot.

The Marlins intend to carry a few starters as relievers on their 30-man roster. Prospects Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger are in consideration.