In the modern era of baseball analytics, information on every major-league baseball player is readily available to every team.
Pitchers and hitters will use this data to formulate game plans to try and achieve the best success possible on the mound or at the plate.
It’s not as easy when you’re in the minor leagues.
But pitching prospect Nick Neidert picked up some tips in spring training from watching some of the Marlins’ most prepared starters work.
“It was great talking to Dan Straily during the spring and watching guys like him and Jose Ureña work,” Neidert said. “Dan said basically make sure your body gets everything it needs each day and make sure you have a solid game plan every game. In a game, a batter makes an adjustment, you have an adjustment ready to go for them, too.”
Neidert, rated the Marlins’ No. 8 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com who came to Miami as part of the trade with the Seattle Mariners for Dee Gordon in December, has put together a solid season in the minors.
Straily, who is in his second season with the Marlins, is one of the club’s most meticulous pitchers when it comes to studying opposing hitters in advance of a start.
Neidert credits a big part of his turnaround to paying closer attention to pregame preparation.
“In the big leagues you can prepare better, but down here [in the minors] with players coming and going all the time it’s a little harder to prepare for what you’re going to face every single day,” Neidert said. “You incorporate a game plan according to your strengths. When all else fails, you go to your top strength. If they beat you, oh well. But that’s going to give you the best chance.
“Last year I didn’t have much of a game plan going into games. This year, game planning is something that I need to stick to and make adjustments in games. That’s been absolutely huge for us.”
Last season while pitching in the Mariners’ system, Neidert struggled when he was promoted to Double A — compiling a 6.56 ERA in six starts.
Neidert is 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 68 1/3 innings (13 starts) with 77 strikeouts and only 17 walks for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Marlins’ Double A affiliate.
“I’ve just been attacking the strike zone both sides of the plate and let my off-speed stuff work for me,” Neidert said.
Neidert, 21, is projected by MLB.com to develop into a back-end rotation starter. His late movement on his fastball that ranges around 93 mph and his changeup and breaking ball have gained effectiveness in his time at Jacksonville.
Neidert’s cross-body delivery also helps him generate good arm speed and more power to the plate on his pitches.
But Neidert said his experience pitching with the major-league team in the spring was invaluable as were his interactions with the Marlins pitchers.
“[Straily] taught me a lot about how to act like a professional get your work in and try not to get in anyone’s way,” Neidert said. “[Ureña] didn’t talk much, but you just watch him and everything he did was with great intensity. So to take that and incorporate it into my routine has been a huge plus.”
▪ Single A Jupiter shortstop Joe Dunand is finding his groove again at the plate, going .333 during his past nine games. Dunand (.264 this season at Jupiter), the nephew of Alex Rodriguez and the Marlins’ No. 16 overall prospect per MLB.com, leads the Hammerheads in RBI with 42.
▪ After striking out 10 in his prior start, Marlins’ No. 3 prospect Jorge Guzman struck out nine and walked one, but gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings on Monday in Jupiter.
▪ Outfielder Brian Miller, the Marlins’ No. 10 overall prospect who also plays for Jupiter, led the Florida State League in hits (81) and was fourth in batting average (.321) entering Tuesday's games.