Justin Nicolino #63 – 2013 Top 100
Date of Birth: November 22nd, 1991(age 21)
Origin: 2nd Round Pick(#80 overall) in 2010 out of University HS(FL)
Al Skorupa: Justin Nicolino is a polished command and control lefty that should fit well in the middle of a major league rotation. He attacks the zone with a strong 3 pitch mix. Nicolino’s best offering is a plus changeup that he uses to get both lefties and righties out. It’s a great centerpiece pitch for a lefty and Nicolino really knows how to pitch off of it. He may lack dominant stuff and plus velocity, but I feel the strengths of his game might allow him to get better results than many expect. At only 21 years old and 6’3, 160 lbs, it wouldn’t be a shock to see his velocity still go up a couple ticks – and if it does, Nicolino could really leap up top 100 lists.
JD Sussman: One word I was expecting here was deceptive, Al. Nicolino throws from a three quarter arm slot and hides the ball exceptionally well. I’ve seen him drop down at times too, probably by design. Ultimately, he’s a competitor with an advanced feel for pitching, but I’m not sold on his upside being more than a number three starter. As you said, an above change-up is a career maker, so it’s hard not to love that. But, his fastball is too flat for me and his slider is just fringe average at present.
Jeff Reese: Justin Nicolino still has some room left to fill out his body. His fastball has already ticked up once since his entrance into pro ball, another uptick wouldn’t come as a surprise. I do agree, however, that it’s unlikely for Nicolino to emerge as more than a mid-rotation arm. Even with his exceptional feel for pitching, it’s hard to see the stuff profiling at the top of a rotation. And that’s perfectly fine. People tend to get discouraged at mid-rotation projections, but they’re really not as ubiquitous as they sometimes may appear.
Fantasy Outlook by Steve Kuperman
Nicolino makes for an intriguing fantasy prospect, pitching at a level close to his present physical ceiling in an organization that would leap at any opportunity to get younger and cheaper. In the near future, he’s unlikely to be anything more than league average in any category, and even that expectation might be seriously pushing it; but he’s one of the safer bets among MiLB arms to even have an opportunity to contribute this year, and Miami’s pitching-friendly environs should help him play up in spot situations. He’ll eat some innings but will likely be starved for wins pitching for a Marlins team that is going to be largely starved for offense. He’s somebody to remember in non-keeper leagues if you need a plug-in arm on the cheap, but isn’t advisable as a buy in such formats otherwise. Despite claims that he’s a nearly finished product, however, Nicolino is still very young and loaded with physical projection, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his raw stuff take a major step forward in the future. Unfortunately for keeper leagues, his likely imminent graduation to the majors means that even if you believe in his long-term potential, you probably won’t have the benefit of stashing him on a minor league roster for much longer. Tread carefully if his name is brought up in your trade negotiations — he’s a fine prospect, but for fantasy purposes his value might not quite compare to that of similarly ranked prospects.