Miami Marlins: Jeff Brigham impressing after hiatus injury

Jeff Brigham pitches in an intrasquad game as part of the Miami Marlins' development camp on March 10, 2022, on the back fields of the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Florida.

Jeff Brigham pitches in an intrasquad game as part of the Miami Marlins’ development camp on March 10, 2022, on the back fields of the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Florida.

jmcpherson@miamiherald.com

The game being played on a back field of the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex on this Thursday afternoon in March did not hold significant merit on its own.

The stats did not count. It was another day of Miami Marlins prospects getting work in toward the end of a month-long development camp being held in Jupiter at the tail end of MLB’s lockout, which coincidentally happened to end hours after the intrasquad scrimmage concluded on March 10 once the league and players came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

But it marked a significant milestone for right-handed pitcher Jeff Brigham.

For the first time in more than a year and a half, Brigham was facing live hitters in a competitive setting.

It was his first on his journey back to professional baseball that has continued to unfold with the Triple A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

“You do not realize how much you miss baseball until it’s taken away from you all of a sudden,” Brigham said on that March day.

A biceps nerve injury that was initially diagnosed as a biceps strain kept Brigham off the mound for 19 months. He last appeared in a game on July 26, 2020, before being shut down. Brigham spent all of 2021 rehabbing the nerve injury in Seattle before finally being cleared to make his return.

“The nerve was pretty much dead at the time – or pretty close to being dead,” said Brigham, who was designed for assignment in October but opted to stay in the organization as a minor leaguer. “It was a very patient process. It’s been a tough time with the pandemic and having baseball get taken from me. Definitely kind of wiped me out mentally and physically and emotionally. ”

And now, Brigham is rounding back into form.

He has a 2.82 ERA over 22 1/3 innings with the Jumbo Shrimp, but his production has improved significantly as of late. He has allowed just three earned runs in 18 innings over his last nine outings while striking out 32 batters and allowing just 10 hits and eight walks. Brigham has pitched at least two innings in seven of those nine outings, including three instances in which he at least went back to the mound to start a third inning.

“The versatility obviously helps you get on the mound at the higher levels,” Brigham said. “Anyway I can help out.”

Incarnation to Triple A

The Jumbo Shrimp’s outfield is now filled with top Marlins prospects following Jerar Encarnacion’s promotion to Triple A Jacksonville this week after a strong start to the season in Double A Pensacola.

He wasted little time picking up where he left off.

Incarnation, ranked as the No. 22 overall prospect in Miami’s system by MLB Pipeline, hit .304 (7 for 23) with two home runs, two doubles and four RBI in his first six games with the Jumbo Shrimp. Five of those seven hits – including both home runs – came in his first two games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Encarnacion played three games in left field and three in right field.

He’s sharing the outfield with 2019 first-round pick JJ Bleday and 2019 third-round pick Peyton Burdick, respectively ranked the Nos. 6 and 10 prospects in the Marlins’ system and both of whom have been viewed as contenders to potentially make their MLB debuts this season.

Neither Bleday nor Burdick, however, is necessarily at the point of a call-up just yet. Bleday is hitting just .203 with a .760 on-base-plus-slugging mark in 38 games this season although those numbers have slightly improved in May (.220 average, .845 OPS in 17 games). Burdick is hitting .226 on the season with an .803 OPS.

This and that

The Double A Pensacola Blue Wahoos only played one of their six scheduled games last week against the Montgomery Biscuits, with the other five games canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests among Montgomery players and coaches.

Infielder Cody Morissette has found his stride at the plate in May with High A Beloit. He has a .274 average (17 for 62) with a .968 OPS, seven doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI and 12 runs scored over 17 games this month.

Catcher Joe Mack made his Single A Jupiter debut this week and hit .308 (4 for 13) with one home run, one double, two RBI and three runs scored through his first four games with the Hammerheads. He started behind the plate for three games and was the designated hitter for the fourth.

Will Stewart made his Triple A debut with the Jumbo Shrimp on Thursday, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out eight in four innings of work. Stewart’s promotion came after Max Meyer went on the minor-league injured list with ulnar nerve irritation. Meyer is one of three top Marlins pitching prospects on the injured list, along with Braxton Garrett and Jordan Holloway.

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.

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