Marlins Look Forward To Return Of Brett Lilek
The Marlins’ long wait to get 23-year-old lefthander Brett Lilek back on a mound appeared to be nearing an end.
A second-round pick out of Arizona State in 2015, Lilek had not pitched since May 31, 2016, when he worked a scoreless inning of relief at low Class A Greensboro.
He lost most of the 2016 season to biceps tendinitis and arm fatigue, but he believes the problem is merely shoulder soreness.
"I’m trying to stay positive, but it wears on you,” said Lilek, a native of the Chicago area who was one semester away from graduating ASU with a degree in communications.
"When you’ve been an athlete your whole life, you don’t want to be sitting in the stands. You want to play.”
Lilek, who said he has never had a major injury prior to this, hoped to return in June or July.
The Marlins have shown patience because they love Lilek’s physicality at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and his talent, which is why they signed him for $1 million.
He turned pro after a disappointing junior year at ASU in which he lost his status as Friday-night starter, and he hasn’t shown much since.
Lilek pitched 35 innings at short-season Batavia in 2015 and made just seven appearances last year. In 51 career pro innings he recorded a 3.88 ERA.
Lilek said his best pitch is his fastball, which ranges from 90-94 mph. He adds a changeup and slider, and both of those pitches range from 82-84. He said he wants to refine his changeup.
High Class A Jupiter pitching coach Jeremy Powell hopes to work with Lilek soon.
"Injuries have held him back, but I’ve seen him throw off the mound in bits and pieces,” Powell said. "Looks like (he has) a free and easy lefthanded stroke. Maybe we’ll see him at some point this season.”
2021 MLB Rookie Of The Year Watch Version 2.0
Ranking the top rookies in the American and National Leagues, plus rising names and sleepers to watch.
— Walter Villa is a writer based in Miami