Villanueva, Raynor sent down

Right-hander Elih Villanueva and outfielder John Raynor were among the four players reassigned to minor league camp by the Marlins over the weekend.

Villanueva had an impressive run in the Grapefruit League, going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four games, including one start. The reigning Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year allowed just 10 hits in 13.0 innings. He is in line to join Shawn Hill, Sean West, Tom Koehler and Alex Sanabia in the Zephyrs’ starting rotation.

Raynor also had a solid spring, going 6-for-18 with two doubles and three RBI in 14 games. He figures to join Bryan Petersen in the Zephyrs’ outfield.

Also sent down were Tim Torres, who is seeing time in the outfield to give him added defensive flexibility, and catcher Clint Sammons.

Spring training notables:

All eyes have been on Florida’s top prospect, Matt Dominguez, to see if
he is ready to assume the everyday third base job in the big leagues,
but the 21-year-old has slumped over the last 10 days, with his batting
average plummeting to .175. If the Marlins decide he isn’t ready, he
will open the year in New Orleans.

The battle for a spot as a backup outfielder with the Marlins is heating up heading into the final week of spring training. Scott Cousins has struggled, hitting .209 with 13 strikeouts in 43 at-bats, while veteran Dewayne Wise has come up with some timely hits and is batting .244.

Thanks to a bevy of offseason moves, the Marlins’ bullpen is overcrowded. Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley and Ryan Webb are locks at the back end of the ‘pen, with free agent signee Randy Choate serving as the left-handed specialist. The candidates to comprise the rest of the relief corps include Edward Mujica (7.27 ERA), Mike Dunn (8.10), Burke Badenhop (3.00) and Brian Sanches (3.68). Mujica and Sanches are out of options, meaning the Marlins would have to pass either through waivers before sending them to the minors.

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