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Marlins' farm system bubbling with talent

Marlins' farm system bubbling with talent

Marlins' farm system bubbling with talent
MIAMI -- Exactly three years after being drafted in the second round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Brad Hand found out that he would make his Major League debut with the Marlins.

The 21-year-old left-hander allowed just one hit -- a solo homer -- in six innings against the Braves. It also happened to be the lone run of the game as Hand dropped his first decision.

"Brad Hand was very impressive. His poise, he looked like he's been in the big leagues for a long time," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He was outstanding."

Before his callup, Hand went 7-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 11 starts with Double-A Jacksonville. He was called up to take Josh Johnson's place in the rotation until Florida's ace comes off the 15-day disabled list from right shoulder inflammation.

Draft Central

"I feel good about what I did. It was just one bad pitch that cost us the game," Hand said. "But I am very excited, very happy. I worked so hard to get here. It was a great experience to get here."

His trip to the big leagues should be motivation for four other top prospects in the Marlins' farm system.

After struggling with the breaking pitch during Spring Training, Matt Dominguez also suffered a fractured left elbow.

As one of the top third-base prospects in the game, Dominguez is back from the injury and finally getting his reps in.

"It was a matter of him making adjustments, and we knew all along that we were pushing his situation. At that point, it was the last week of Spring Training. We made a decision not to force the situation," Rodriguez said. "It's matter of time when he's going to be in the big leagues. Whenever he comes up here, he's going to stay here."

The 12th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft returned to action in May and is currently at Triple-A New Orleans, where he is batting .262 with four homers and 17 RBIs over 65 at-bats.

With Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms in a platoon at third, Rodriguez said Florida doesn't want to force the situation with Dominguez.

"We don't want to put him in a situation where he will fail," Rodriguez said. "So if we have to wait, we will wait."

According to Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting, the No. 2 prospect in the organization's system, Chad James, is "really making progress."

James, the 18th overall pick in the 2009 Draft, has been throwing strikes and his breaking ball is in the zone.

The 20-year-old left-hander is 0-9 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts for the Jupiter Hammerheads.

"The numbers may not say that," Fleming said. "He has mound presence, he has really improved. He's a very high-strung, emotional guy, and he's learning how to control it."

Christian Yelich was drafted 23rd overall as one of the best high school hitters taken last year.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder has speed -- he has stolen 13 bases -- and is batting .285 with four homers, 13 doubles and 29 RBIs in 193 at-bats with the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

"He's doing great. His numbers are solid, not fantastic," Fleming said. "He played very, very little last year."

Meanwhile, Florida's sixth overall pick in 2008, Kyle Skipworth, received the challenge of playing with the Suns this spring.

In 162 at-bats, he's hitting just .179 with five homers and 21 RBIs. Skipworth has fanned 55 times.

"He's really struggling. We knew pushing him to Double-A was really a risk. He's not struggling defensively, but offensively. We're trying to get through this," Fleming said. "We're trying to stay with a plan. We knew it would be a struggle. If he stays positive, I think we will get through it."

Christina De Nicola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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