JUPITER, Fla. -- All eyes were on Marlins reliever Sterling Sharp on Wednesday afternoon on the back fields at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.
When the lanky 24-year-old right-hander faced hitters for the first time in Spring Training, he had a big audience of team executives. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, and vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo, were joined by manager Don Mattingly and others.
The Marlins intend to take a long look at Sharp, a Rule 5 Draft pickup from the Nationals, who is competing for a bullpen spot.
Sharp impressed with the movement on his sinker, a pitch that he picked up watching videos of former Nationals’ reliever Blake Treinen.
“Just commanding the zone with my fastball,” Sharp said is what’s he’s been working on early in camp. “That’s what they were talking about. The first week, being on the mound. Get your fastball down, and working on other pitches.”
In 2019, Sharp pitched 49 2/3 innings at Double-A, and had a 63.3 percent ground ball percentage, per Fangraphs. In seven innings at Class A Short-Season, he had a 75 percent ground ball rate.
Before taking him in the Rule 5 Draft in December, the Marlins thoroughly scouted Sharp in the Arizona Fall League, where he pitched for Surprise.
The two now have a chance to be teammates in Miami.
“It was a big confidence booster being out there, and facing top prospects out there,” Sharp said of the Fall League. “It was a good stepping stone to come out to my first big league camp, and show that I can pitch here too.”
As a Rule 5 Draft claim, the Marlins have to retain Sharp on their Opening Day roster, or offer him back to the Nationals.
Expanded Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium netting
Fans attending Spring Training games at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium will now be able to take a little more comfort. That’s because the safety netting is being expanded from the ends of each dugout down the foul lines. Workers were at the ballpark on Wednesday working on the netting, which will provide more safety to fans sitting in areas where foul balls are often struck very hard.
The Marlins and Cardinals share the complex. St. Louis opens Grapefruit League play on Saturday, while the Marlins face the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Miami’s first home game will be Sunday against the defending World Series champion Nationals.
The Marlins are back on the field on Thursday around 9:30 a.m. ET at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. Pitchers have been facing hitters, creating some more excitement. Practices are open to the public, and run through about noon.