Getting feet wet, Urena, Nicolino ticketed for Triple-A

Marlins stick with incremental plan for prospects, who make spring debuts vs. colleges

Getting feet wet, Urena, Nicolino ticketed for Triple-A

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Marlins like what they see in pitching prospects Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino. But the organization is in no rush to see either one in the big leagues before they're ready.

That's why the organization is moving each one up one level at a time. Urena and Nicolino were anchors on Double-A Jacksonville's Southern League title team last year, and they are projected to start this season off at Triple-A New Orleans.

"These are two guys we really like and we're counting on," manager Mike Redmond said. "These guys are going to help us down the road.

Pleskoff on Marlins prospects

"I think that's the goal, to make sure that when we bring these guys up, we feel like they have enough [Minor League] experience and they're ready for the big leagues. That's kind of a fine line."

Urena, rated Miami's No. 7 prospect by, started on Tuesday in the Marlins' exhibition win over the University of Miami. In one scoreless inning, the 23-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic allowed one single. Of his 11 pitches, eight were strikes.

Nicolino, meanwhile, threw an inning of relief in Monday's 7-2 win over Florida International University. The 23-year-old lefty, rated the Marlins' No. 2 prospect, had two strikeouts, but he was tagged for a two-run homer.

Last year, Nicolino was the Southern League Pitcher of the Year, going 14-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 170 1/3 innings. Urena went 13-8 with a 3.33 ERA in 162 innings.

In the past, the Marlins didn't hesitate advancing prospects from Double-A to the big leagues if they showed some success.

But a change in philosophy occurred last year when Andrew Heaney, their top prospect at the time, moved from Double-A to Triple-A before reaching the big leagues.

Heaney, now with the Angels, had his struggles in the big leagues, and he ended up being optioned back to Triple-A.

"We would all communicate about it," Nicolino said. "Heaney said the big leagues is a different world. But it's just like any league you move up with. I was told the biggest jump in baseball is high [Class] A to Double-A. I saw that last year. When I first started in Double-A, I was shocked. I left high A on a good note, and in Double-A I got myself in trouble."

The hard lesson Heaney learned last year was getting victimized by mistakes.

"He said, it's all just mistakes," Nicolino said. "You have to limit your mistakes and get ahead in the count. I think that's every level you move up. The more you limit your mistakes the better success you'll have."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.