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Top prospect Wacha efficient in spring debut

JUPITER, Fla. -- Having already caught the eye of many within the organization through the first two weeks of his first Spring Training, Michael Wacha further validated early impressions with an efficient two-inning Grapefruit League debut on Saturday.

Wacha, the team's top pick (No. 19 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, threw a first-pitch strike to each of the eight hitters he faced. His pitch total climbed only to 21 over those two innings, with 19 of those pitches being strikes.

"I look at it as a great opportunity to go out there and take advantage," said the 21-year-old righty. "One of the things I'm trying to do here in Spring Training is take advantage of the opportunity and learn as much as I can, and go out there and compete as best I can."

Wacha followed Trevor Rosenthal and inherited a three-run deficit in the third inning. A two-base error by David Freese opened the door for the Marlins to score once off Wacha, who allowed an RBI single to Jeff Mathis.

He did not allow another baserunner in the appearance and needed only five pitches to retire the side in the fourth inning. He pitched that frame, too, after having to sit in the dugout during a long top half of the inning. When it was finally time for Wacha to return to the mound, Adam Wainwright challenged the young righty to have a quick inning.

Wacha responded with a strikeout and pair of first-pitch groundouts.

"His poise has probably been one of his greatest assets since he walked in here," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "He's just a guy who carries himself older and more experienced than he is. He's gone about it the right way. He's asking a lot of questions. He's trying to use this as a learning experience. And today was another step in that direction."