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Young pitchers spur excitement in front office

Hill lauds depth in all levels of Minors
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandy Alcantara, Nick Neidert, Zac Gallen, Merandy Gonzalez, Pablo Lopez and the list goes on of high-ceiling pitching prospects who have been added to what had been a thin Marlins' system.

Around the organization, the excitement level is high among team executives because they're finally getting to see the collection of promising pitchers throw off the mounds.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Sandy Alcantara, Nick Neidert, Zac Gallen, Merandy Gonzalez, Pablo Lopez and the list goes on of high-ceiling pitching prospects who have been added to what had been a thin Marlins' system.

Around the organization, the excitement level is high among team executives because they're finally getting to see the collection of promising pitchers throw off the mounds.

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"I think you look around the first few days and you see the energy," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "You see the excitement. All of our pitchers and catchers alike, just understand what's in front of them. There's a tremendous opportunity in this organization to be a part of something that is going to be special."

With all their offseason turnover, the Marlins are getting aquainted to their new collection of young talent. Many are unknown names to fans, but within the industry, they're highly coveted. Five pitchers acquired in trades dating back to last July rank on the Marlins' Top 30 prospect list, according to MLB Pipeline.

Alcantara rates No. 3, and he projects as a top of the rotation talent. Neidert, per Pipeline, is the 10th-rated prospect, followed by Gonzalez (13), Gallen (18) and Lopez (30).

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"I think the biggest thing you'll see is there's layers of pitching depth now," Hill said. "There's pitchers that we've acquired that will fall right in with our existing inventory of pitching at the A-ball level. We were able to add a number of pitchers who will be a part of the Double-A and Triple-A rotations, and those who will be competing for our Major League rotation."

Of all the pitchers in camp, Alcantara is the most celebrated. The hard-throwing right-hander threw 8 1/3 innings at the big league level with the Cardinals in 2017. The 22-year-old features a fastball, that according to Statcast™, averaged 98.51 mph.

Video: Top Prospects: Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins

Miami acquired Alcantara from St. Louis as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade. Alcantara is competing for an Opening Day rotation spot, but if the club feels he isn't completely ready, he could open at Triple-A New Orleans.

Neidert came to Miami from the Mariners in the Dee Gordon trade in December. Gonzalez was involved in the deal made last July with the Mets for AJ Ramos.

Lopez is a 21-year-old who was part of the David Phelps trade with the Mariners last summer. Lopez may be ranked 30th on the prospect list, but he's already impressing the staff.

As the Marlins build their system from the bottom up, they've made an effort to infuse players into every organizational level, from Class A ball up to Triple-A, and eventually into the big leagues.

Video: Top Prospects: Merandy Gonzalez, RHP, Marlins

"We didn't have depth," Hill said. "I don't think that's a secret. We didn't have upper-level depth. When you don't, it puts you in a tough spot. For us to be built the right way, and to have a sustainable organization, you have to have depth at the Minor League level."

Of the five pitchers, Alcantara and Gonzalez are on the 40-man roster. For all, Spring Training is a showcase, but the organization pledges it will not rush anyone.

"I think everyone, and our coaches included, understands that it's all a process," Hill said. "The goal every day is to try to get better, and to make players better and pitchers better, and there's no shortcuts. I think we understand our inventory and what we have here, and we're extremely excited about the ceilings and the talent that we have in camp. We're going to let it develop at its pace." 

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

Miami Marlins