Nicolino Adding To An Already Deep Arsenal

DUNEDIN, FL - Having three effective pitches to throw isn't too common if you're just starting out in your professional baseball career. Left-handed prospect Justin Nicolino, who was taken in the 2nd round (80th overall) in the 2010 amateur entry Draft is only 19 years old, but already has three which he can throw for a strike. Not only that, but he is working on a fourth – a two-seam fastball.

"I've always had it in my back pocket," Justin Nicolino said. "I started throwing it more just in long-toss and started seeing more action to it, and decided to start throwing it more in a game, and the next thing you know, I started seeing great movement from it. It's a great out pitch, also, so I stuck with it."

His two-seamer lives around 87 MPH, with the four-seam fastball ranging in the high 80s to low 90s. Nicolino also features a 79-80 MPH changeup and mid-70s curveball. It's the changeup that he coined as his out pitch.

"I go to my changeup anytime," Nicolino stated. "Even if it's not there, it basically is my bread and butter. I go to it 3-2, when I'm behind in the count, anytime I need to use it."

Gulf Coast League Pitching Coach John Wesley, who has been working with Nicolino while in Dunedin for Extended Spring Training, agrees that the lefties' go-to pitch is the changeup. However, he mentioned that the curveball is coming along nicely as well.

"I think the breaking ball will get better and better," he said. "It's just one of those things that takes some time. It's getting better right now and I think eventually, it'll be a very good weapon for him."

The coach said the thing that separates Nicolino from a lot of other young pitchers is his ability to utilize all of his pitches. In a draft in which the Blue Jays' used many picks to select pitchers, standing out from the rest could be very important for Nicolino.

"I think he separates himself because of his arsenal," Wesley said. "For the most part, his fastball, changeup and curveball are there for him every day. Just with the ability to make that mix, and that they're all quality pitches right now, separates [him] because you can't just sit on one pitch."

Relating to the notion that Nicolino can throw all of his pitches effectively at such an early point in his career, Coach Wesley also spoke about how Nicolino has somewhat of a multi-faceted skill set on the mound.

"He has a good talent for pitching. He knows what he's doing out there, he's able to command his pitches fairly well and can mix them in the counts. He's not a guy that only has to pitch one way, which is really nice at his age where he can do multiple things."

Nicolino did not make camp with a long-season team, and thus is currently in EST until the short seasons begin, which is what he expected considering his age when drafted and the talent the organization has to choose from. He said that Extended has been going well for him, and that he continues to make improvements.

"I've actually been throwing a lot better as Extended goes on," the 6-foot-4 Nicolino said. "At the beginning of Extended, I was working on a few things, getting the feel for my new mechanics and stuff like that, and now it's starting to all come together and basically it's a work in progress."

Likewise, Coach Wesley is pleased with how Nicolino has been pitching so far, especially in his last outing.

He's been doing very well down here. His last outing was outstanding," Wesley said, mentioning that Nicolino tossed just 44 pitches in three innings of work. "What we try to teach is just to be efficient; get the hitter out of the box in three pitches; keep the pitch count down so that their careers are longer when we need them to be longer."

Extending is wrapping up soon, but there are still aspects of the game to be worked on. Until the short seasons get underway, Nicolino simply wants to continue getting better.

"(I want to) keep progressing more and more each day, each outing. That's what it is down here," Nicolino said. "You're down here to work on stuff and develop, and that's what I have to do in the next two weeks."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I've always had it in my back pocket,\" Justin Nicolino said. \"I started throwing it more just in long-toss and started seeing more action to it, and decided to start throwing it more in a game, and the next thing you know, I started seeing great movement from it. It's a great out pitch, also, so I stuck with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis two-seamer lives around 87 MPH, with the four-seam fastball ranging in the high 80s to low 90s. Nicolino also features a 79-80 MPH changeup and mid-70s curveball. It's the changeup that he coined as his out pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"I go to my changeup anytime,\" Nicolino stated. \"Even if it's not there, it basically is my bread and butter. I go to it 3-2, when I'm behind in the count, anytime I need to use it.\"
\r\n
\r\nGulf Coast League Pitching Coach John Wesley, who has been working with Nicolino while in Dunedin for Extended Spring Training, agrees that the lefties' go-to pitch is the changeup. However, he mentioned that the curveball is coming along nicely as well.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the breaking ball will get better and better,\" he said. \"It's just one of those things that takes some time. It's getting better right now and I think eventually, it'll be a very good weapon for him.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe coach said the thing that separates Nicolino from a lot of other young pitchers is his ability to utilize all of his pitches. In a draft in which the Blue Jays' used many picks to select pitchers, standing out from the rest could be very important for Nicolino.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he separates himself because of his arsenal,\" Wesley said. \"For the most part, his fastball, changeup and curveball are there for him every day. Just with the ability to make that mix, and that they're all quality pitches right now, separates [him] because you can't just sit on one pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nRelating to the notion that Nicolino can throw all of his pitches effectively at such an early point in his career, Coach Wesley also spoke about how Nicolino has somewhat of a multi-faceted skill set on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has a good talent for pitching. He knows what he's doing out there, he's able to command his pitches fairly well and can mix them in the counts. He's not a guy that only has to pitch one way, which is really nice at his age where he can do multiple things.\"
\r\n
\r\nNicolino did not make camp with a long-season team, and thus is currently in EST until the short seasons begin, which is what he expected considering his age when drafted and the talent the organization has to choose from. He said that Extended has been going well for him, and that he continues to make improvements.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've actually been throwing a lot better as Extended goes on,\" the 6-foot-4 Nicolino said. \"At the beginning of Extended, I was working on a few things, getting the feel for my new mechanics and stuff like that, and now it's starting to all come together and basically it's a work in progress.\"
\r\n
\r\nLikewise, Coach Wesley is pleased with how Nicolino has been pitching so far, especially in his last outing.
\r\n
\r\nHe's been doing very well down here. His last outing was outstanding,\" Wesley said, mentioning that Nicolino tossed just 44 pitches in three innings of work. \"What we try to teach is just to be efficient; get the hitter out of the box in three pitches; keep the pitch count down so that their careers are longer when we need them to be longer.\"
\r\n
\r\nExtending is wrapping up soon, but there are still aspects of the game to be worked on. Until the short seasons get underway, Nicolino simply wants to continue getting better.
\r\n
\r\n\"(I want to) keep progressing more and more each day, each outing. That's what it is down here,\" Nicolino said. \"You're down here to work on stuff and develop, and that's what I have to do in the next two weeks.\"
\r\n
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