Three Former Suns on Top 100 Prospects List

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LHP Justin Nicolino among the Top 100 Prospects in baseball going into 2014 according to MLB.com. Photo Courtesy: The Florida Times-Union

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE – Three former Jacksonville Suns were listed among baseball’s Top 100 Prospects according to MLB.com, announced by the website on Thursday evening.

Left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney (No. 29), outfielder Jake Marisnick (No. 65), and left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino (No. 81) all made MLB.com’s cut among the game’s top prospects going into the 2014 season.

The Suns had more former players from the 2013 season on the list than any other Southern League club.

Heaney has earned plenty of press this offseason, and last week MLB.com announced that he is the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. Heaney began 2013 in High-A Jupiter where he went 5-2 with a 0.88 ERA in 12 starts before finishing the season in Jacksonville, going 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA in six starts for the Suns.

His 2013 Suns rotation mate Nicolino also made MLB.com’s Top 10, with the website ranking him the seventh best southpaw prospect. Nicolino was named the 2013 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year, going 5-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 18 starts for Jupiter. Like Heaney, he finished the year with the Suns posting a 3-2 record with a 4.96 ERA in nine starts.

Marisnick is the only former Sun listed in the Top 100 that saw major league time in 2013. Marisnick was a 2013 Southern League South Division All-Star, and after hitting .294 with 12 homers and 46 RBI for the Suns he finished the season in Miami. With the Marlins he hit .183 with one homer and five RBI in 109 major league at-bats.

The trio of former Suns were joined in the rankings by fellow Marlins farmhand Colin Moran, who checked in at No. 51. Moran, a left-handed hitting third baseman, was drafted with the sixth overall pick in last year’s first round out of the University of North Carolina, and is projected to play in Jacksonville at some point during the 2014 season.

The Southern League was also well represented on the MLB.com list, with 13 of the Top 100 Prospects playing in the league last season. Among those former Southern Leaguers who made the list was Jacksonville native and former Bragan Award winner Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs. The Arlington Country Day product was ranked by MLB.com as the game’s seventh-best prospect, and he finished the 2013 season with the Southern League’s Tennessee Smokies.

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.

Former Suns Heading to Marlins Big League Camp

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2013 Suns first baseman Mark Canha is among the former Suns invited to Marlins big league camp in 2014. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover / Jacksonville Suns.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE – Many former Jacksonville Suns will get opportunities to show their skills at the major league level during Spring Training, earning invitations to Miami Marlins big league camp.

Along with former Suns already on Miami’s 40-man roster, other players receiving invitations last week were left-handed pitchers Andrew Heaney, Adam Conley, Justin Nicolino, and James Leverton; right-handed pitchers Anthony DeSclafani, Bryan Evans, Rett Varner and Nick Wittgren; catchers Austin Barnes and Kyle Skipworth; and infielders Danny Black and Mark Canha.

The former Suns on Miami’s 40-man roster going into 2014 Spring Training are right-handed pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Michael Brady, Arquimedes Caminero, Steve Cishek, Sam Dyson, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Hatcher, Tom Koehler, A.J. Ramos, and Jacob Turner. Left-handed pitchers are Grant Dayton, Brian Flynn, Brad Hand, Dan Jennings, and Edgar Olmos. Catchers are Jeff Mathis, who rehabbed with the Suns in 2013, and J.T. Realmuto.

Derek Dietrich is the lone former Sun in the infield on Miami’s 40-man roster, while Kyle Jensen, Brent Keys, Jake Marisnick, Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich round out the outfield.

Heaney has earned plenty of press this offseason, and earlier this week MLB.com announced that the southpaw is the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. His 2013 Suns rotation mate Nicolino also made MLB.com’s Top 10, with the website ranking him the seventh best southpaw prospect.

Wittgren saw brief time in Jacksonville at the end of the season, but the right-handed closer got attention this week as a potential closer for the Marlins according to MLB.com’s Bernie Pleskoff in this column.

DeSclafani was the Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013 as the former Florida Gator was a force in the Suns rotation during the second half of the season going 5-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 13 starts.

Keys was the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year in 2013 as he finished his campaign in Jacksonville after winning the Florida State League batting title with a .346 average.

Another name to keep an eye on is third baseman prospect Colin Moran, who also received a non-roster invitation to big league camp. Moran was drafted with the sixth overall pick in last year’s first round out of the University of North Carolina, and is projected to play in Jacksonville at some point during the 2014 season.