Nicolino among latest cuts in Marlins camp

Facing big league hitters boosted left-hander's confidence

Nicolino among latest cuts in Marlins camp

JUPITER, Fla. -- The inevitable happened on Tuesday for Justin Nicolino, but not before the left-hander made a strong impression with the Marlins.

Nicolino, Miami's No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com, was one of three pitchers optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Also sent down were lefty Adam Conley and right-hander Matt Ramsey.

With Minor League games starting this week at the Roger Dean Stadium complex, the hurlers will now fall into their routines.

Nicolino, the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2014, is getting closer to being big league ready. But for at least a few months, he will gain more seasoning at New Orleans.

"We like his stuff," manager Mike Redmond said. "He just needs to keep pitching. He's going through the levels and he just needs to keep learning. He's going to face some better hitters."

Getting to face big league hitters in the early part of camp is a confidence boost for Nicolino.

"Just knowing my stuff plays, and being confident in my stuff," the 23-year-old said. "I've said it over and over again, I try to just go out there and pitch my game, and pitch to contact. I'm not going to try anything different over there."

The Pacific Coast League is known as being hitter-friendly, but Nicolino isn't going to change his approach.

"I've heard things like the ball goes flying, but you can't worry about that stuff," the lefty said. "You can only control stuff you can control. I feel with what I did up here, I set the tone for myself. I'm going to try to keep it rolling there."

Nicolino threw two innings in Grapefruit League play, and he threw an inning in the exhibition against Florida International University.

The Marlins acquired Nicolino from the Blue Jays after the 2012 season. He is gaining more of a comfort with the organization, now having been in two big league Spring Training camps.

"I got to learn a lot more," Nicolino said. "I got to be around a lot of different guys who came from different places. I got to pick their brains a little bit and see how they went about the game, and [I was] learning about myself more, pitching-wise.

"I'm a year older. Coming in, I knew where I was going to go. I was trying to mentally prepare for that, and get my mind and body ready for that. It was a lot of fun, too. I was able to stay up here a lot longer than last year."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.