Marlins stacked with pitching talent

Marlins' reinforcements harnessing their craft

PHILADELPHIA -- From top to bottom, the Marlins' Minor League system is stacked with promising pitching.

Through the draft and trades, the organization is well armed for the upcoming years. Now, as the Minor League seasons are under way, the young pitchers are getting tested at various levels.

Should the Marlins look down on the farm for some pitching help, the four most likely choices are three relievers -- Chris Resop, Taylor Tankersley and Logan Kensing -- and starter Anibal Sanchez. Yusmeiro Petit, who is starting at Triple-A Albuquerque, also is worth watching.

"Sanchez has been throwing very well," said Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Jim Fleming. "His velocity has been 89-94 mph."

Sanchez, obtained from the Red Sox as part of the Mike Lowell-Josh Beckett trade, had a shot to make the rotation in Spring Training. But he was hampered by some shoulder tightness and didn't pitch in any Grapefruit League games.

In three starts for Double-A Carolina, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA, striking out 19 while walking six in 18 2/3 innings.

Tankersley, also in Double-A, is priming himself for his big-league debut. Florida's first-round pick out of the University of Alabama in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Tankersley has appeared in six games for the Mudcats, posting a 1.17 ERA, striking out eight while walking three in 7 2/3 innings.

Fleming said Tankersley has thrown well, but at times, the lefty has shown some command issues. The Marlins do not have a left-handed reliever on their big-league roster, and barring a trade, Tankersley at some point may get the first shot at that role.

At Albuquerque, Petit is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts, logging 16 1/3 innings. He has given up four home runs, while striking out 10 and walking five. The right-hander also has surrendered 19 hits.

Petit was obtained from the Mets in the Carlos Delgado trade. The right-hander was with the Marlins in Spring Training, and now he is looking to refine his command before making the leap to the big leagues.

As a relief option, Kensing has shown promise at Albuquerque. A second-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2003, Kensing is healthy and throwing hard. He missed a bulk of last season with an elbow injury.

Formerly a starter, Kensing has adjusted to the bullpen, where he has appeared in seven games. In nine innings, he has struck out seven and walked one. It may be a matter of time before he is called upon to set up for Florida.

Resop, a hard thrower who made the Marlins coming out of Spring Training, was optioned recently when Scott Olsen was called up. In his first two outings for the Isotopes, Resop has thrown three scoreless innings.

The righty will get save opportunities in Albuquerque.

There are a few Minor League arms who are nursing injuries. Nate Bump, formerly with the big-league club, is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in two starts. But the right-hander is out with a shoulder problem. Last year, he underwent shoulder surgery.

Bump is in the process of getting an MRI exam to determine the severity of the injury.

Hard-throwing reliever Travis Bowyer, acquired from the Twins for Luis Castillo, has not pitched for Albuquerque yet because of a weak shoulder. Bowyer is still several weeks away from being game-ready.

One of the organization's talented young left-handers is on the disabled list, but he should be ready to pitch in a couple of weeks. Sean West, a compensatory first-round pick last year, has been hampered by some tightness in his shoulder. The 6-foot-8 Texas resident is at low Class A Greensboro, where he is 1-0, having not giving up a run in six innings.

Greensboro and Class A Jupiter are loaded with talented arms who are a couple of years away from being big-league ready.

The Marlins selected five pitchers before the second round in last year's First-Year Player Draft. Of that group, four were high school products who all opened in Greensboro.

Right-hander Chris Volstad, the club's top pick a year ago, is off to a 2-0 start with a 3.93 ERA, giving up eight runs in 18 1/3 innings.

Ryan Tucker and Aaron Thompson are very talented, but thus far they've been hurt by some shaky defense in Greensboro.

Another talented prospect in Greensboro is Chris Leroux, who is off to a 0-2 start, but has a lively arm.

Jupiter, too, is grooming some pitchers with promise. Jacob Marceaux, a first-round choice out of McNeese State, was elevated to the Hammerheads after spending some time with Greensboro in 2005. He's on a staff that includes Jose Garcia and Gaby Hernandez.

With so many pitchers in their first full professional season, Florida decided to advance its pitchers who attended college or spent time in other teams' organizations to Jupiter, while keeping many of the club's teenagers in Greensboro.

Fleming says the Marlins are testing some of their top young prospects against some higher-level competition. The team has a long-standing policy of promoting players from Double-A to the big leagues. They've done it in the past with lefties Dontrelle Willis and Jason Vargas.

So the faster players show they can perform at Jupiter, the quicker they can be promoted to Carolina.

"Everybody is being challenged and not rushed," Fleming said.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.