Barry Jackson

Conley’s struggles; scout’s view; bullpen battle and Marlins nuggets

Miami Marlins pitcher Adam Conley during training at the Marlins facility in Jupiter, Florida, Feb. 15, 2107.
Miami Marlins pitcher Adam Conley during training at the Marlins facility in Jupiter, Florida, Feb. 15, 2107.

A six-pack of Marlins notes:

• There is concern internally about Adam Conley, who pitched so well at times last season but has been smoked this spring, permitting a 9.35 ERA and allowing batters to hit .372 off him, with 16 hits allowed in 8 2/3 innings.

While it would be surprising if he doesn’t start the season in the Marlins’ rotation, the Marlins might need to rethink that if he gets bombed in his next start.

With Jeff Locke injured, the Marlins don’t exactly have many appealing other options. Severino Gonzalez, who’s 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA this spring, was demoted on Thursday. Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino and Dillon Peters would all be options.

But Conley presumably has earned some rope, enough benefit of the doubt, after going 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA last season. We’ll see.

• Derek Dietrich figures to get the bulk of playing time early in the season until Martin Prado can return from his hamstring injury. The question is who will join Miguel Rojas, Ichiro Suzuki and AJ Ellis (provided he’s healthy) on the bench.

Outfielder Tyler Moore (.275, five homers this spring) is one option. So is catcher Tomas Tellis, hitting .308 this spring. The Marlins also could trade for a backup infielder or claim one off waivers, or use a veteran infielder in their system.

Though third baseman Brian Anderson (.378) has been outstanding this spring and shortstop JT Riddle (.269) has been solid, the sense is the Marlins want those two playing every day in the minors. Anderson, who was sent to the minors today, has emerged as Miami’s top hitting prospect above the low levels of the system.

• Spoke to an American League scout who has seen the Marlins multiple times this spring and watched the World Baseball Classic.

The scout worries about Giancarlo Stanton. “Forget a $300 million player; he needs to play like a $100 million player. He’s not even that. For a guy that big and strong, some of his attempts are kind of feeble. It almost looks like it’s all or nothing at times.”

• And he has doubts about whether Adeiny Hechavarria will reverse his offensive regression. “He’s below average as a hitter, doesn’t make productive outs. He swings a little more freely or wildly than his production would call for.”

• The scout on the Marlins’ pitching staff: “To me, they have bunch of three and fourth starters in their rotation. I think Adam Conley can be a two, but not this year and he hasn’t looked good this spring. Their bullpen is really strong and they’ve all looked decent this spring. Kyle Barraclough has good enough stuff to be a closer eventually but you want to see him mature as far as command and walking guys. I like Brad Ziegler, but I don’t want him facing a tough lefty.

“If they move on from Jose Urena, somebody is going to snap him up because he has good arm strength. The jury is out for me on whether [Justin] Nicolino will amount [to anything]. Nicolino [who made a tweak on his deliver] needs high command if he’s ever going to make it. He has below average stuff.”

• If the Marlins keep an eight-man bullpen as planned, six jobs would go to AJ Ramos, Ziegler, Barraclough, Junichi Tazawa, David Phelps and presumably Dustin McGowan.

That would leave two among right-handers Urena, Brian Ellington, Nick Wittgren and lefties Hunter Cervenka and possibly Nicolino.

Here’s how those five have fared this spring:

Cervenka: 4.91 ERA in 7 1/3 innings; just .214 average allowed but five walks

Nicolino: 5.56 ERA in 11 1/3 inning innings, allowing .298 average

Ellington: 5.63 in eight innings, .258 average allowed

Wittgren: 5.68, 6 1/3 innings, .190 average allowed

Urena: 7.20 ERA in 10 innings, .318 batting average allowed

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