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Prospect Esch gets starting nod in spring opener

Marlins host NCAA's Hurricanes on Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Don Mattingly announced Jake Esch as his starting pitcher for the Marlins' first exhibition on Tuesday against the University of Miami at Roger Dean Stadium.

Esch, the organization's No. 9-ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will take the mound first against the Hurricanes. The 25-year-old right-hander is one of eight pitchers scheduled to face UM in the 1:05 p.m. ET contest.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Don Mattingly announced Jake Esch as his starting pitcher for the Marlins' first exhibition on Tuesday against the University of Miami at Roger Dean Stadium.

Esch, the organization's No. 9-ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will take the mound first against the Hurricanes. The 25-year-old right-hander is one of eight pitchers scheduled to face UM in the 1:05 p.m. ET contest.

"It starts the process of getting a guy on the mound, and getting a hitter up there," Mattingly said. "It's just a matter of getting it started and getting it going. It gives us a chance to get those guys out on the mound."

Esch isn't expected to go more than two innings.

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Listed to pitch in relief are Kendry Flores (Miami's fifth-ranked prospect), Tim Berry, Brian Ellington (26th prospect), Scott McGough, Austin Brice (23rd), Nick Wittgren (21st) and Cody Ege.

Each reliever is slated to throw one frame.

As for the position players, the Marlins are likely to use most of their regulars. They likely will get one at-bat and play a couple of innings in the field.

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Esch, a 6-foot-4, 190-pounder, was primarily a shortstop and a reliever at Georgia Tech. The Marlins selected him in the 11th round of the 2011 Draft, and he's being groomed as a starter.

In 2015, Esch pitched at three different levels, posting a combined record of 8-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 23 starts, with all but two at Double-A or Triple-A. With Jacksonville, he went 6-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 85 1/3 Double-A innings. Esch made six starts at New Orleans, going 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA.

The Marlins open their Grapefruit League season on Thursday against the Cardinals. Miami will be the visiting team at Roger Dean Stadium. No starter is listed yet for that game.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Jake Esch