By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns
JACKSONVILLE – Seven players who saw time with the Jacksonville Suns during the 2013 season were listed among the “2014 Miami Marlins Top 10 Prospects” announced by Baseball America on Thursday.
Prospects LHP Andrew Heaney (1), OF Jake Marisnick (3), LHP Justin Nicolino (4), RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5), LHP Brian Flynn (6), LHP Adam Conley (8), and catcher J.T. Realmuto (10) all suited up for Jacksonville in 2013, a team that posted a winning season of 73-63.
“Very proud of those guys, they are very talented young players,” said Suns manager Andy Barkett about the seven former Suns on the list. “All of them are gamers and warriors on the field that I would lock arms with anytime! The best part about that group is that not only are they all great players and very talented but they are all first class people. It has been and will be with some of them, a privilege to be their manager.”
Baseball America also selected players with the “Best Tools” in the Marlins organization, with the majority of them playing for the Suns in 2013. Brent Keys was named the “Best Hitter for Average” and took home the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline” superlatives, while Kyle Jensen earned the nod as the “Best Power Hitter.” Realmuto was named the organization’s “Best Athlete and Best Defensive Catcher,” with Marisnick earning “Best Defensive Outfielder and Best Outfield Arm” selections. The “Best Fastball” tag belongs to Arquimedes Caminero, with Heaney having the “Best Slider,” and Nicolino having the “Best Changeup and Best Control.”
Heaney takes the top spot on the Top 10 list after seeing his first Double-A action with Jacksonville in 2013. Slowed early in the year by injury, Heaney went 5-2 with a 0.88 ERA in 12 starts for High-A Jupiter before finishing the year with Jacksonville. In six starts with the Suns he posted a 4-1 record with a 2.94 ERA.
Marisnick is the only position player on the list who saw major league time in 2013 with the Marlins, but the bulk of his season was in Jacksonville, where he was a Southern League All-Star hitting .294 with 12 homers and 46 RBI. He played with the Marlins the final two months of the season with a homer and five RBI.
Nicolino, the 2013 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year, continued his winning ways from Jupiter to Jacksonville. After going 5-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 18 starts for the Hammerheads, Nicolino went 3-2 with a 4.96 ERA for the Suns. His strongest start with Jacksonville came on August 16 when he struck out 13 Birmingham Barons in only six innings on the mound.
In only his first year in the Marlins organization, DeSclafani rose up through the system and showed that Miami got a hidden gem in the 12-player swap with the Blue Jays with his strong pitching. The former Florida Gator was a Florida State League Midseason All-Star with Jupiter before shining for the Suns in the second half. He made 13 starts with Jacksonville, going 5-4 with a 3.36 ERA and posted a strong strikeout-to-walk numbers with his 62 punch-outs compared to 14 walks in 75 innings on the mound.
Opening Night at Bragan Field on April 4 proved to be one of the best nights all season for a Suns pitcher thanks to Brian Flynn. In his six scoreless innings against the Jackson Generals he struck out nine batters and surrendered only two hits without a walk. Flynn only made three more starts with Jacksonville, as he was 1-1 with a 1.57 ERA in his 23 innings before a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans. There he was a Pacific Coast League All-Star with his 2.83 ERA, and would see his first time in the majors making four starts for the Marlins to close out the season.
Conley was the only member of the Suns starting rotation to stay the entire season in Jacksonville, developing into one of the most reliable pitchers in the Southern League. A 2013 Southern League All-Star, Conley went 11-7 with a 3.25 ERA in his 25 starts with 129 strikeouts in 138 and two-thirds innings on the mound. He had two four-start winning streaks in May and late July, and posted a complete game shutout against the Mobile BayBears on July 14, striking out eight batters in seven scoreless innings while only giving up three hits.
Catcher J.T. Realmuto also stayed with the Suns from April to September in his first season at the Double-A level. He was a 2013 Southern League All-Star behind the plate handling one of the league’s best pitching staffs, and caught 106 of Jacksonville’s 136 games.
The full report on the 2014 Miami Marlins Top 10 Prospects can be found on the Baseball America website here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2014-miami-marlins-top-10-prospects-2/
For the latest Suns news this offseason, fans are encouraged to visit www.jaxsuns.com and can keep up with the Jacksonville Suns on the club’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media platforms, as well as the “Tales from Bragan Field” blog: www.sunsradio.com.