With three strikeouts and three hits, including a solo homer, through his first seven batters on Saturday, Nick Neidert was teetering on the edge of a rocky outing.The early adversity helped push the Marlins' No. 3 prospect into a second gear and toward a career night.
With three strikeouts and three hits, including a solo homer, through his first seven batters on Saturday, Nick Neidert was teetering on the edge of a rocky outing.
The early adversity helped push the Marlins' No. 3 prospect into a second gear and toward a career night.
Neidert retired 19 of his final 21 batters and recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts over eight innings, yielding a run on five hits, as Double-A Jacksonville beat Biloxi, 5-1, at MGM Park. It was the third time he's notched double-digit strikeouts this season, fanning 11 over 6 2/3 shutout innings on May 17 and punching out a dozen over six innings 12 days later.
The 2015 second-round pick gave up a two-out single to Brewers No. 5 prospect Lucas Erceg and struck out three in the first. Clint Coulter knocked a leadoff homer to left field in the second that lifted the Shuckers into a 1-1 tie. To Neidert (10-6), it was a one-pitch error, not a game-changing mistake.
"It was a hanging changeup. That's what he's supposed to do with that," the right-hander said. "I just trusted Rodrigo Vigil behind the plate and trusted everyone around me. He called a great game and I just had to throw at his mitt, and we were able to get quick outs and run up the strikeouts tonight."
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Two batters after Coulter's homer, Luis Aviles Jr. lined a one-out single to left. But Neidert got Max McDowell to bounce into an inning-ending double play that flipped the switch.
"Getting that really changed the momentum for us," he said. "Both up at the plate and in the field, guys were making great plays behind me, which really helps as a pitcher. It was great to be able to trust them as they continued to swing the sticks and back me up."
Neidert picked up steam, retiring the next 14 batters, including striking out the side in the sixth and the first two batters in the seventh. After he gave up his fourth hit of the night, a double to left to Coulter, the Atlanta native caught Brewers No. 20 prospect Trent Grisham looking at strike three to end the frame. In the eighth, he gave up a two-out single to Blake Allemand but made Brewers No. 3 prospect Corey Ray his 13th strikeout victim.
Neidert has had success against the Southern League MVP candidate, who's 0-for-12 with nine strikeouts against him.
"He's a great player, an all-around toolsy guy," the hurler said. "I got to talk to him during the All-Star Game and he's got a great head on his shoulders and a really bright future ahead of him. It's nice to go toe-to-toe with great competition. It definitely raises me a bit when you're up against a high-profile guy."
Neidert is about a month away from closing out his first full season with the Marlins, who acquired him last December along with shortstop Christopher Torres, right-hander Robert Dugger and $1 million in international slot money for All-Star infielder Dee Gordon. While there's been a bit of a learning curve, Neidert said he's been encouraged by the organization's change in direction and its young core.
"It's a new regime change, but it's been a lot of fun learning like everyone else," he said. "I know every single person here is working as hard as they can to make themselves better. It'll be fun the next few years watching everything develop and I hope I can be in a Marlins uniform in a few years once all this talent comes around."
Justin Twine staked Neidert to an early lead with a solo homer in the first and Vigil backed his batterymate with a blast in the ninth.
Nathan Brown is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @NathanBrownNYC.