Nick Neidert Finishes Fall League With A Flourish

Image credit: Nick Neidert (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

MESA, Ariz. — Nick Neidert never felt quite right after tearing his meniscus in his second start of the season. Even after he returned in July from a three-month absence, the Marlins’ righthanded pitching prospect was never truly comfortable.

Turns out, all he needed was a little more time.

Neidert pitched five scoreless innings on Thursday in Salt River’s 0-0 tie against Mesa. With the outing, the 22-year-old righthander concluded his Arizona Fall League with a 1.25 ERA.

“I would say when I got out here it finally felt 100 percent,” Neidert said. “To where every single day I could push off, I could do work, I could work on my craft every day, and it feels good.”

Neidert, 22, began the year as one of the Marlins’ Top 10 Prospects but suffered through his worst year as a professional, in large part due to the injury. He logged a 5.05 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A New Orleans and uncharacteristically battled his control, walking 22 batters in 41 innings.

In Arizona, Neidert got on track. He struck out 19 and walked only two in 21.1 innings in the AFL, and finished on a streak of 12.1 consecutive scoreless innings.

“After surgery, it took me a little while to get my knee feeling right every single day,” he said. “Toward the end of the season, it was tired. It was achy all the time, so it was hard to do stuff on a consistent basis.”

Neidert cruised through his final outing quickly. He threw 44 of his 67 pitches for strikes, allowed only one runner past second base and wrapped up his five innings in just over an hour. He primarily worked off his 88-92 mph fastball and swing-and-miss changeup, but he also landed an early count curveball for strikes and got chases on his mid-80s slider.

That slider, in particular, has been a focal point for Neidert this fall. His fastball and changeup have been his primary weapons throughout his career, but an improved breaking ball would significantly enhance his future outlook.

Knowing that, Neidert is growing into a four-pitch pitcher, an important development for someone who relies on hitting his spots and keeping hitters guessing rather than overpowering them.

“We all know the location is there, the delivery is there,” Salt River pitching coach Jim Paduch said. “It’s just about him executing now and just having all four pitches work off the same line and tunneling them.”

To that end, Neidert can say his time in the Arizona Fall League was a resounding success. He stayed healthy, developed his arsenal and came out among the league ERA leaders.

With that, his AFL was one to remember.

“It’s always fun to pitch well and it was a great time here,” he said. “I love the guys, I love the team. It was just some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing ball.”

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