Have you ever been stuck in a lift? Even if you are stuck there for just minutes or in a worst case hours, you start to panic. “Is this thing ever going to move? Am I going to die here? I never even had the time to see the Pyramids! What if Brinson statrts hitting dingers?“ The feeling you get when it moves again; that is the best feeling in the world. You have just fooled death. That is Miami Marlins in the 2020 and beyond.
In this article we look ahead for the Miami Marlins 2020 season and players to watch from this young team with some solid veterans.
It has been 11 years since Miami Marlins last had a winning record. Last playoff appearance is from the World Series winning 2003 season. Last year, the record of 57 wins was the third-worst in franchise history. This is pretty like punching yourself in the face, right? There has been trading away MVP calibre players. There has been one dark morning to wake up to the news that probably one of the generation’s best pitchers had died in a boating accident.
So I think it is understatement to say that the Marlins fanbase has suffered a quite a lot. The lift was just about to take off but then it stopped.
What exactly is the next step? Not to lose 100 games? The plan was to improve the farm system and that surely has been accomplished. Marlins are currently ranked fourth on the MLB.com Pipeline farm system rankings and it has five players on MLB.com Pipeline Top 100 prospect list. Some of the offseason acquisitions showed that the plan is also to build a competitive team, not for this season, but thinking ahead for 2021 and 2022 seasons. That was also seen when you look at the couple of players they signed during the winter.
Corey Dickerson signed a two-year deal with the Marlins. The 2018 Gold Glove winner is locked for the everyday starting role at left field for the next two seasons. Marlins are hoping that he regains his 2017 and 2018 form on both sides of the ball. Jonathan Villar was traded to the Marlins from the Baltimore Orioles; naturally a second baseman or shortstop, he has started at centre field for the Marlins during spring training. I think the plan to utilise him at that position is just to have several lineup options during the season. Ideally it would be to get him going strong early on and try to trade him at the deadline. An extension would be a big surprise given the fact that Marlins are currently stacked at the positions he plays.
The pitching rotation is very young. If you look at starters of the likes of Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez, they are averaging the age of 25. Throw in there Jordan Yamamoto, who made his MLB debut last year, now entering his age 23 season, and 24-year old Elieser Hernandez, who was a Rule 5 draft pick in 2017, you are looking at a very young but exciting group of guys. One player to keep an eye on and who has a slight chance to break into the starting rotation of six is Robert Dugger.
Stat of the Day
Robert Dugger has held opponents scoreless thru 9.2 IP. Nobody in MLB Spring Training has pitched more innings than him without allowing a run.
The lift has just started operating again and the Marlins are moving up again. It is moving but the team is just not yet there.
The future of Miami Marlins is looking bright. The farm system is full of potential talents who could be in majors sooner than we think; some of them even this season. The closest to break into the Opening Day roster, and at the same time the coolest player on the clubhouse, is Monte Harrison. The 24-year-old outfielder, who came to the Marlins as a part of the Christian Yelich trade, should have made his majors debut last year but an injury prevented that. Fun fact: as he is now on the verge of breaking into the 26-man-roster, the Marlins could possibly field a lineup that would consist of all of the Yelich-trade pieces. Jordan Yamamoto, Isan Diaz and Lewis Brinson, are secure in the roster entering the season. Mark 4 May into your calendar as the Marlins face the Brewers. Line them up! That would be so cool!
Sixto Sanchez, Marlins number one ranked pitching prospect, didn’t pitch in spring training. The team were saying that they wanted him to have slow treatment to get to the majors. There was also some talk that he came to camp a little out of shape, but that was just rumours and wasn’t confirmed by the club. Either way, I think the plan is to get him to the majors later in the season. He will be fun to watch!
Then there are the young talents who came to spring to show what they got. There is 22-year-old shortstop Jazz Chisholm, who is electric and has more swagger on his game than in a small village. Last years Marlins first-round draft pick JJ Bleday has a swing that when he contacts the ball, balls will be flying out of Marlins Park into the Ocean Drive at Miami Beach. Pitching prospect Edward Cabrera has been flying under the radar and hopefully will rise on the prospect rankings. First baseman Lewin Diaz was considered to be a steal from the Minnesota Twins when the Marlins traded Sergio Romo last year. He has a chance to be the everyday first baseman for years to come.
Combined stats for JJ Bleday, Jazz Chisholm, José Devers, Lewin Díaz, Jerar Encarnación and Jesús Sánchez this spring
So the lift is moving and Marlins are looking at arriving into the penthouse on the top floor. It will not be this year and maybe not the next one but soon the Marlins are hopefully blasting that Will Smith song Miami at the penthouse with Cuban cigars and cocktails after a thrilling World Series win. Count me in!
Tomi Korkeamaki is covering the Miami Marlins during 2020 as part of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @TKorkeamaki
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