(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - Some called it an 'embarrasment of riches' when describing the Minor League system Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos had accumulated over his first few seasons in Toronto and coming out of the 2012 season, it was.
Of that talent-laden group that was scattered between Vancouver of the Northwest League and Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League was LHP Justin Nicolino who dazzled in a Vancouver Canadians uniform helping Canada's only affiliated Minor League team to its first NWL Championship.
Fast-forward several short months and a lot has changed since Nicolino pitched for Vancouver including his changing of organizations as today the 6'3" lefty wears the teal, orange and black of the Miami Marlins - honing his skills in Jupiter, Florida with the Hammerheads of the Florida State League who unfortunately started the season with eight straight losses.
"That was a real tough way to start my time with Florida. I mean, this organization is really well run, and to be honest, that's baseball. The Marlins are also stocked with a lot of really talented prospects - so to come out of the gates 0-8 was something that was pretty tough but again, that's why you play 142 games down here," says Nicolino to canadiansbaseball.com.
There was no denying that Nicolino knew he was a part of something special within the Blue Jays organization but also understands that the business of baseball also makes it tough not to make moves when the timing is right.
"We had a lot of talent in Toronto. I mean, you had Sanchez, Syndergaard, D'Arnaud, Gose and about 30 other guys that all have tools to become Major Leaguers. How can you not dip into your system if it can improve your parent club. I am happy to know that the Marlins coveted me enough to bring me here and make me a part of their organization. I loved my time with the Blue Jays, but am happy to be playing in my home state and hope to be playing for 'Red' (Mike Redmond) in the future".
Mike Redmond, managed Nicolino in Lansing of the Midwest League just a season ago, so it was almost fitting that those two would meet once more in Florida with Redmond managing the Major League Marlins and Nicolino working his way up toward the bright lights of Marlins Park.
"I spent a lot of time with Red during the off-season and at Spring Training as well. He got me to throw the final game of the spring with the big club and that gave me some confidence that this was going to be a new beginning for me with the Marlins".
Admitedly, the timing for Nicolino was tough to absorb as many within the Blue Jays system felt as if the organization was knocking on the door of something special growing much of their talent in the Minor Leagues together - but says that players rarely get to all come up together.
"I mean outside of Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and a few others, very few players get to play their whole career with one organization so this for me is just a part of the game and I am already settled in to my new home with the Marlins and appreciate the way the Blue Jays prepared me for this next chapter of my career".