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Marlins prospect Kolek working on offspeed stuff

Young righty hopes to complement his heater with improved secondary pitches
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- All the attributes that went into the Marlins selecting Tyler Kolek with the second overall pick in the 2014 Draft are still in place. The 20-year-old is an imposing figure on the mound at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, and he's armed with a 100-mph fastball.

But as so many power pitchers have learned, overpowering stuff alone doesn't guarantee success in the pros. Sometimes there are growing pains, and for Kolek, he's still refining his mechanics and developing his secondary pitches.

MIAMI -- All the attributes that went into the Marlins selecting Tyler Kolek with the second overall pick in the 2014 Draft are still in place. The 20-year-old is an imposing figure on the mound at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, and he's armed with a 100-mph fastball.

But as so many power pitchers have learned, overpowering stuff alone doesn't guarantee success in the pros. Sometimes there are growing pains, and for Kolek, he's still refining his mechanics and developing his secondary pitches.

It's taking time. The transition remains a work in progress for the native of Shepherd, Texas. As a prep sensation, Kolek caught the eyes of scouts by throwing 102 mph, the hardest reading ever by a high school pitcher.

At Class A Greensboro in 2015, though, Kolek had his struggles. He was 4-10 with a 4.56 ERA in 25 starts. In 108 2/3 innings, Kolek struck out 81 and walked 61. Since being drafted, the right-hander is 4-13 with a 4.55 ERA in 130 2/3 total Minor League innings.

The performance has yet to match the expectations, but the organization knew when it selected Kolek as an 18-year-old that his development would take time.

"I think he's still tremendously talented, with a high ceiling and potentially a front-line starter, to be an ace of a staff," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "He battled through normal first full-season issues. I think he is poised for a huge year for us in 2016."

Kolek will head into Minor League Spring Training as Miami's No. 1 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Kolek, who will not be in big league camp, projects to open at Class A Advanced Jupiter. Progressing to a higher level magnifies the importance of developing his offspeed pitches. Tightening up his breaking pitches remains a top priority for Kolek.

"It's a huge challenge, because you're talking about one of the most dominant high school pitchers in the Draft," Hill said. "He didn't have to use those other pitches [in high school], because he didn't need to. He was just so overpowering. I think we acknowledged when we took him that there was going to be some development in that process."

The Marlins are confident the adversity Kolek has faced thus far will make him a better pitcher over the long haul.

"The kid is a great worker, with a great attitude, and that was something he was not going to shy away from," Hill said. "That's what everyone who saw him last year, and saw the adversity that he faced in getting a consistent breaking ball knew, he always competed. There was always that fierceness, that aggressiveness, that competiveness. You didn't doubt this kid's makeup and his toughness, and the fact once he irons these things out that he's going to be a lot better off because he had to go through these things."

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, Tyler Kolek