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Prospect Peters making strides on the hill

Marlins lefty has improved since start of camp in bid for rotation
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Down the final stretch of Spring Training, Marlins left-hander Dillon Peters is starting to put things together. The organization's No. 15 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is hoping that a strong finish makes for a tough decision in finalizing the starting rotation.

Peters took a step in the right direction on Thursday, tossing two scoreless innings in the Marlins' 7-6 win over the Mets at First Data Field.

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Down the final stretch of Spring Training, Marlins left-hander Dillon Peters is starting to put things together. The organization's No. 15 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is hoping that a strong finish makes for a tough decision in finalizing the starting rotation.

Peters took a step in the right direction on Thursday, tossing two scoreless innings in the Marlins' 7-6 win over the Mets at First Data Field.

View Full Game Coverage

"He's making strides," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "We saw early in camp he got out of sync. I don't know if he was trying too hard, or trying to show us what he can do, or he was just not quite there yet. Guys were trying to compete right away. Sometimes your first or second time out there, you're not ready to do that. Guys were trying to step up their game, I think, right away. He may have got caught up in that."

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After a slow Spring Training start, Peters is seeing signs of improvement. There's still some issues with command, however, as 14 of his 28 pitches Thursday were balls, but he more effectively worked both sides of the plate with his fastball. Before his day was over, he threw 34 more pitches simulating two more innings in the bullpen.

"Early spring timing issues, whatever it was. I don't really have a pinpoint of what it was," Peters said. "There were things that needed to be worked on. Slowly, but surely, we're getting there."

The Marlins have set the top of their rotation, naming Jose Urena as their Opening Day starter on March 29 against the Cubs at Marlins Park. Dan Straily will go in the second game.

Still up for grabs are the three, four and five spots.

"I'm going out there, and I'm trying to compete and do the best I can for this ballclub," Peters said. "After that, it's out of my hands. Control the controllables."

Peters showed plenty of promise last year, when he was a standout in Spring Training before opening at Double-A Jacksonville. His season was sidetracked due to injury. Last April, he was struck by a comebacker and broke his thumb. He ended up making 13 total Minor League starts at three levels, going 7-3 with a 1.57 ERA.

Another rotation candidate also pitched on Thursday. Odrisamer Despaigne threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing an unearned run on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

"He adds and subtracts [velocity], and he's got good stuff," Mattingly said. "He can hit 93-94 [mph] when he wants to, gives you different looks. He's a different animal out there. But he can throw strikes. He can do a lot of things. He's a guy who can start, he can relieve. You can do a lot with him."

For Peters, it's a matter of consistency and throwing enough strikes to allow his secondary pitches to work.

"Pretty good," Mattingly said of Peters' two innings. "Still a little around the plate, around the zone. But obviously, to get a couple of good innings is good for him."

Called up last September, Peters made six starts with the Marlins and went 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA.

Fastball command was an issue at the end of last year, and that carried over as an issue this spring.

"I can go up and down with it," Peters said of his fastball. "I'm working in and out with my fastball and pitching with my breaking ball. Those have been the two main focal points the last five days."

Peters showed an effective changeup in the first inning, getting Todd Frazier to roll over the pitch and tap into a 5-4-3 double play.

"It was a changeup down and away," Peters said. "He's 2-1, in a swing-happy count. We were playing the pull-shift. I'm going to throw something that will hopefully go to the left side."

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

Miami Marlins, Dillon Peters