Marlins roster

5 Takeaways from the Marlins Roster Reveal

The Miami Marlins are faced with a difficult task in 2020, though there are plenty of reasons to watch the team this season. The team has one of the most difficult schedules in MLB. Over the weekend, the Marlins roster reveal began with the announcement of 57 of the 60 spots for their player pool.

But now that Miami’s 60-man set for the 2020 season has been announced, it’s time to take a look at 5 takeaways from the Marlins Roster Reveal.

Marlins Roster: Pitching Prospects in the Pool

Miami sports one of MLB’s strongest farm systems. While there are plenty of solid bats in the minors, the strength of the system sits on the mound. The team’s top prospect, Sixto Sanchez, is among the 60 players in the 2020 pool.

While Sanchez might not break camp with the team, the 21-year-old right hander could very well make his MLB debut this season. The combination of command and stuff makes Sanchez one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. Likely headed to Triple-A Wichita after Spring Training, he had a shot at the bigs in 2020.

The other top-end pitching prospects in the pool include: RHP Edward Cabrera, LHP Braxton Garrett, RHP Jorge Guzman, RHP Jordan Holloway, RHP Nick Neidert and LHP Trevor Rogers. It’s unlikely all of these players make their debut, especially considering it’s unclear what the 2020 season will do for a player’s service time.

Cabrera, Garrett, Neidert, Rogers and Sanchez are all among the Marlins’ top-10 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. While Miami’s starting rotation seemed all but set by the time Spring Training was postponed, there’s a shot that Neidert, the 23-year-old righty who came over in the Dee Gordon deal, could steal a spot in the rotation.

Marlins Roster: Positional Prospects in the Pool

Although the Marlins farm system is loaded with excellent arm talent, there are a number of position players who are high-end talents and future franchise cornerstones. JJ Bleday, Jazz Chisholm and  Jesús Sánchez are numbers two, three and four, respectively, among the Marlins’ top prospects.

All three are 22-year-old left-handed hitters. It’s only a matter of time before they make their MLB debuts. Having them among the 60-player pool affords Miami the option of bringing them up. Chisholm seems the closest to the Majors at this point, considering his position at shortstop, as well as his power and speed.

The other top position prospects in the pool are José Devers, Lewin Díaz, Jerar Encarnacion and Monte Harrison. At 23-years-old, Diaz sports a power left-handed bat that could be a fixture in the Marlins lineup for years to come.

Harrison is primed to break camp with the team this summer. At 24-years-old, the centerfielder features all-around tools, including speed, arm-strength and defense. During Spring Training, Harrison slashed .364/.481/.500 over 22 at-bats. He also registered six stolen bases and should push Lewis Brinson for a starting spot.

Devers and Encarnacion are unlikely to break camp with the club, though Encarnacion projects as a future DH.

Marlins Roster: Options at DH

With the addition of the designated hitter to the NL, the Marlins find themselves with an extra bat for their lineup. This will simplify manager Don Mattingly’s lineup construction. The team’s free agent signings seem prescient now that they can include a DH every day.

The Marlins added Jesús Aguilar, Matt Joyce and Jonathan Villar this offseason, and each one can man the DH. Interestingly, Miami lists Villar as an infielder. This may indicate he’s no longer being considered for an everyday spot at centerfield. Traditionally a middle infielder, Villar could compete with Isan Díaz and  Miguel Rojas for their spots at second base and shortstop.

Should Aguilar win the job at first base, Mattingly could turn to  Garrett Cooper. Cooper has struggled with injuries throughout his Marlins career, so DH might suit him well. Other options for DH include: Harold Ramirez, Sanchez and Encarnacion.

Free Agent Snubs

The Marlins spent some money this offseason, bringing in quality veterans to help speed up the rebuilding process. Among those signees was 3-time All-Star Matt Kemp, who the Marlins signed to a minor-league deal in the offseason, and “switch-pitcher” Pat Venditte.

Kemp came to camp as an option for both outfield and first base. Unfortunately, the 14-year vet didn’t make much of an impression during spring training, where he slashed just .143/.200/.143. Kemp may benefit from the new DH rule in 2020, but it’ll be with a different team.

Venditte signed a minor-league deal with Miami this offseason. The ambidextrous Venditte can throw with either hand for the Marlins, thus the “switch-pitcher” label. But he’s had limited success in the majors during his career. His signing was seen as a potential solution to MLB’s new three-batter minimum for relief pitchers.

Among the top prospects that did not make the Marlins roster pool are: Peyton Burdick, Victor Victor Mesa and Kameron Misner.

Alternative Training Site

The Marlins are one of the luckiest teams in MLB, despite being nestled in a state riddled with coronavirus cases. Miami’s spring training complex, Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, is in nearby Jupiter, FL. This will be the team’s alternative training site

The majority of the players in the roster pool will report to Marlins Park for training. However, nearly 20 of them will instead make their way to Jupiter. The players assigned to Roger Dean are unlikely to make their MLB debut in 2020, but will see plenty of personal development.

Among the players reporting directly to Jupiter are: C Will Banfield, Bleday, Cabrera, Devers, Lewin Diaz, Encarnacion, Guzman, Holloway, RHP Humberto Mejia, Jesus Sanchez and Sixto Sanchez.

Having those prospects in Jupiter will allow the team to continue the training for them. Intra-squad games and practices will be allowed. This is especially valuable considering the likelihood of a minor-league season remains low.

First-round draft pitch Max Meyer will also be sent to Jupiter for the summer training camp. Four of the Marlins’ top prospects (Chisholm, Harrison, Neidert and LHP Alex Vesia) are among the 40 who’ll start training at Marlins Park.

 

2020 Marlins

5 Reasons to Watch the 2020 Marlins

MLB and the MLBPA finally got it together. The public had long since turned on billionaires and millionaires squabbling amid a global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment and pushes for social change and justice. Reports flooded out once the two sides agreed to a semblance of a season in 2020. Now, baseball fans can turn some of their attention to what was once the national pastime. And South Florida can support the 2020 Marlins, because, hey, you never know.

The Miami Marlins have struggled to find their footing in South Florida despite a pair of World Series championships. Years of incompetent ownership, boarding on villainous at times, gave way to a new group seeking to reshape the franchise’s fortunes.

The Marlins have transformed their operation, not only on the field but also in the community. The team sports a diverse set of voices from CEO Derek Jeter to GM Mike Hill and COO Caroline O’Conner. They’ve been active during the pandemic, participating in food distribution drives and other community outreach programs.

On the field, the Marlins are coming off a 105-loss season, but the future is bright. Heady trades and considered free agent signings have helped retool the farm system, which is now considered among the best in the league. The Major League product should be improved as well.

With a new season on the horizon, here are five reasons to watch the 2020 Marlins.

1 – 2020 Marlins Schedule Sprint

The schedule for the 2020 Marlins will be no joke. The team has amongst the most difficult schedules across baseball’s new landscape.

Miami will face their NL East counterparts 40 times. They’ll face AL East opponents the other 20. Last season, the Marlins posted a 24-52 record against the NL East. Their only winning mark came versus Philadelphia (10-9). The Marlins had losing records against Atlanta (4-15), the Mets (6-13) and Washington (4-15). Also, Miami was swept by the Tampa Bay Rays (0-4).

For 2020, this schedule will be a gauntlet. The defending champion Nationals may have lost their MVP candidate (Anthony Rendon), but they still sport three aces. The Braves built a strong team with stars. And the Phillies spent aggressively in free agency, while the Mets hold a loaded pitching staff.

Tampa Bay won 96 games in 2019 and sport three aces of their own. The Yankees have perhaps the deepest roster in the AL. Oh, and after winning 103 games, they added Gerrit Cole, who’s coming off a 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326-strikeout season.

Boston is retooling its roster and neither the Blue Jays nor the Orioles can say they’re more talented than Miami. That said, six teams on the Marlins schedule averaged 93 wins last season.

2 – 2020 Marlins Youth Movement

The Marlins have a talented young core. Those players are being paired with savvy veteran additions, while top-shelf prospects near the big leagues. All this combined for Miami’s manager, Don Mattingly to say the 2020 Marlins will “make some noise.”

Miami’s roster holds a number of young, capable players. Isan Diaz, Jorge Alfaro and Brian Anderson all look like foundational talents. The pitching staff sees the likes of all-star Sandy Alcantara take the hill every fifth start. Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez demonstrate the depth of the rotation.

These players will soon be supplemented by prospects. Monte Harrison, Jazz Chisholm, Lewin Diaz and Jesus Sanchez are all nearing the bigs. Jerar Encarnacion and JJ Bleday, among others, are sharpening their skills in the minors and have bright futures.

Pitching prospects like Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett and the newly drafted Max Meyer have the franchise’s fortunes on the rise.

The team added utility sparkplug Jonathan Villar and outfielder Corey Dickerson to provide veteran leadership and production.

Although an expanded 30-man roster, which will be reduced as the season progresses, could see some of these prospects make their Major League debuts, it’s unlikely for most. Players will accrue a full year of service time in this abbreviated season. This may keep the Marlins from calling up some of these prospects in order to maintain an extra year of contract control.

3 – Universal DH

It’s a long time coming for the National League, but the Universal DH will finally be deployed across the baseball landscape. Although some purists see this as a negative, the Universal DH will certainly help the 2020 Marlins. (Here are 5 Reasons the Marlins Benefit from a Universal DH.)

Sure, the Marlins have had success in the past with pitchers at the plate, but not recently. Long gone are the days of Chris Hammond and Dontrelle Willis. Jose Fernandez connected on two career home runs, but it’s been more than four years since a Marlins pitcher hit one out.

Since 2015, Marlins pitchers rank 14th out of 15 NL teams in On-Base Percentage (.137) with over 1515 Plate Appearances. In addition, they sport the highest strikeout rate of all NL teams (45 percent).

Among the free agent signings for the Marlins this year, outfielder Matt Joyce and first baseman Jesús Aguilar could both fill this role. If Aguilar mans first base instead, Garrett Cooper could see time at DH. Signing veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli could also mean that Alfaro will get a break from catching duties for a turn at DH.

All of this can only help a lineup that connected on the fewest home runs and second-fewest runs scored in baseball last season.

4 – New Rules

One of the complaints against baseball has long been the games are too long. In recent years, MLB has instituted certain rules to accelerate the pace of play, including limiting the amount of mound visits a team can make. But playing without a clock means games could last for hours beyond the normal window of time.

This season, in an effort to reduce the number of pitching changes and, in turn, cut down the average time per game, MLB instituted a rule change that requires pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters in an appearance or pitch to the end of a half-inning, with exceptions for injuries and illnesses.

In addition, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that MLB will implement a rule in which extra innings games will feature innings starting with a runner on second base. This will expedite the ending of games given that the schedule will be so tight this year. Long games will create greater problems this year than they normally would.

The runner-on-second rule has been in place in the minors for two seasons. It premired in the World Baseball Classic, then was tested in the Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues. In 2018, all minor leagues adopted it.

Under the rule, the runner at second will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the extra inning. So, usually, the player who made the last out in the previous inning or a pinch runner for that player. If the placed runner scored, it’s considered an unearned run.

The Marlins have decent speed up and down the lineup, and an expanded roster would mean even more speed for Mattingly to deploy. This could help the Marlins improve on 7-9 record in extras last year.

5 – You Never Know

An MLB team has gone from worst to first 13 times since 1990. Despite winning two World Series championships, the Marlins have never won the NL East. They might need to do so to ensure their postseason spot.

In their 27-year history, the Marlins had 11 years when they started the season’s first 60 games at .500 or better. Last season, their record at the 60-game mark was 23-37. Teams won’t have the luxury of a slow start to this season since it’s a sprint.

Washington went from a 19-31 record through 50 games last season to a World Series championship, so strange things have happened before. Even the expansion Florida Marlins had a 61-game stretch in 1993 where they won 30 games.

Unfortunately, MLB didn’t expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16, which had been discussed in prior iterations of the potential deal with the MLBPA. It’ll be three division winners plus two wild cards per league in the postseason.

For the 2020 Marlins, they’ll want to target 35 wins or so for a possible playoff berth. It won’t be easy, considering the schedule. If the Marlins find themselves out of contention as the trade deadline nears, they could flip some of their veteran talents, like Villar, Aguilar or new closer Brandon Kintzler, for prospects to help the rebuild.

Five Reasons Sports

Martin Bater’s Intro to Five Reasons Sports

You pack your bags, you say goodbye, and you look back at that place you loved knowing you would eventually be back someday. On February 13, 2018, I started a 33-hour, 4-day road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix leaving not only the life I knew and my family behind, but also my passion of covering sports for ESPN Deportes to become an Interpreter for the Arizona Diamondbacks. That road trip took me to Gainesville, Mardi Gras and a close call in Texas, but that’s a story for another time, Five Reasons Sports fans.

Fast forward to June 18, 2020. I’m back to covering South Florida sports, this time for Five Reasons Sports, and damn if it doesn’t feel good to be reunited.

A little bit about myself: My name doesn’t sound very Hispanic, but I was born and raised in Argentina before moving to Miami in 2002. People say Andy Murray and Benedict Cumberbatch are my dopplegangers (thanks?), and I love going to Graziano’s in Coral Gables for a tasty Milanesa with French fries.

Fútbol is my religion, but I also am an unconditional basketball, baseball and football fan. I arrived in South Florida just in time for the Heat to steal my heart and for the Dolphins to break it.

Yup, I missed the entire Dan Marino era and the first NFL game I ever saw was Tom Brady’s Super Bowl upset against Kurt Warner’s Rams. I didn’t imagine that would be the first chapter of the next 18 years of my football fandom. On the bright side, I got started with the Marlins winning the World Series and I had the privilege of witnessing the Dwyane Wade era in its entirety. The Panthers? I do hope that this new decade and the brand-new opportunity that they are about to have in the playoffs show me what I missed back in 1996.

I’m convinced about certain things in sports, and one of them is that the Designated Hitter doesn’t belong in the National League. I spent two seasons having a great time with the Diamondbacks as the team’s Interpreter before they made their COVID-19 related employee cuts last month, and I had the privilege of seeing Zack Greinke dissect the craft of hitting in Arizona. Greinke isn’t just a great pitcher capable of owning the moment in Game 7 of the World Series, but a legitimately great hitter as well.

We are talking about a guy who called his first career home run and is fifth among active pitchers in  career homers. I remember a night in April 2 of last year in San Diego when Greinke struck out 10 in six innings while also going 2-for-4 with 2 home runs, the first one traveling 413 feet to center field at one of the hardest parks to hit in the Majors. Then he left on a trade to the Astros and I got to see Madison Bumgarner (you know, the only pitcher to ever hit two homers on Opening Day) in action every day.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that Greinke’s and Bumgarner’s passion for hitting rubbed off on the rest of the staff. Robbie Ray, former Marlin Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver all pride themselves on being able to drive in a runner from second as well. And we want to take that away from them and others out of fear of injury or because we want more offense? What you are doing is making the game more predictable and less strategic.

You can also expect my takes on how Inter Miami will be the first to win a championship for South Florida this decade, why Maradona > Messi and Pelé, and witness me hopping on the already crowded Tua bandwagon.

My main goal will be to make you forget all the B.S. the world seems determined to throw at us on a daily basis right now with fun interviews and opinions you can love or hate me for. I will welcome your comments and I look forward to getting on this ride with you.

Five Reasons Sports brought me back home, and I am elated to be here.

Universal DH

5 Reasons the Marlins Benefit from a Universal DH

Amid the contentious talk of Major League Baseball playing its 2020 season is a rule change that some traditionalists object to: a Universal DH. While some National League teams would have roster work to do in order to address this contingency, the Miami Marlins are not among them.

The Designated Hitter (DH) is something the American League adopted in 1973, and now it appears as if the National League may add it in advance of the new collective bargaining agreement for 2022. Players know it can prolong careers, while general managers see it as an opportunity to prevent pitchers from unnecessary injury exposure in the batter’s box or on the base paths.

Recast in the light of this development, offseason moves from the Marlins now seem prescient. The addition of hitters like Jesus Aguilar and Matt Joyce, even Matt Kemp, point to potential candidates at the position.

Sure, the Marlins have had success in the past with pitchers at the plate, but not recently. Long gone are the days of Chris Hammond and Dontrelle Willis. Jose Fernandez connected on two career home runs, but it’s been more than four years since a Marlins pitcher hit one out.

Since 2015, Marlins pitchers rank 14th out of 15 NL teams in On-Base Percentage (.137) with over 1515 Plate Appearances. In addition, they sport the highest strikeout rate of all NL teams (45 percent).

Should MLB come to an agreement with the Players Association for a truncated 2020 season, and should that agreement include this rule change, here’s a look at five reasons a Universal DH will benefit the Marlins.

Universal DH: Helps Solve the Outfield Logjam

The Marlins have 10 players for three positions. Of those 10, one, either newly signed Jonathan Villar or the returning Brian Anderson, will man third base. Anderson is the odds-on favorite to start in right field. Free agent addition Corey Dickerson will probably patrol left, though Miami manager Don Mattingly may elect to sit Dickerson versus left-handed pitching.

That leaves seven players for one spot. Even with an expanded 30-man roster and a 20-man taxi squad, that’s too many outfielders to carry. But with a DH in the lineup, the likelihood of these players sticking with the club increases considerably

Harold Ramirez and Matt Joyce immediately become options for consistent plate appearances. Jon Berti can remain in a super-utility role, and Magneuris Sierra sees his chances of staying with the franchise improve dramatically. Sierra’s out of minor league options and would need to be traded or released if he doesn’t make the team.

This also means the battle for center field, between Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison among others, might not see the loser banished to Triple-A.

Universal DH: Frees Up First Base

When the Marlins claimed Jesus Aguilar off waivers this offseason, most took it as a signal that Garrett Cooper may be destined for the outfield or the bench. Although Aguilar will need a bounce-back season, the former All-Star put up the best numbers of his career while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018. In 149 games, he slashed .274/.352/.539 with 35 home runs and 108 RBI.

Injury struggles led Mattingly to imply, back in December, that Cooper’s not an everyday player. In 107 games last season, Cooper slashed .281/.344/.446 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI. He started 66 games at first, and 31 games in right, with two turns at DH.

One of these two is likely the everyday first baseman, while the other can man the DH spot. Matt Kemp saw some time at first during Spring Training, and, at this stage in his career, he profiles more at DH than outfield.

There’s also a longshot for a 23-year-old prospect Lewin Diaz to play first. The six-foot-four Diaz came to the Marlins from Minnesota as part of the Sergio Romo trade last year. He’s a lefty with plenty of pop in his bat.

Universal DH: Jorge Alfaro

Jorge Alfaro landed with the Marlins as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade, coming to Miami with pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart. In 2019, he connected on 18 home runs and drove in 57 runs over 130 games. Injuries affected Alfaro’s overall performance, but he showed promise handling the pitchers.

The addition of veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli, as well as the option to DH, should help Alfaro avoid some of the nagging injuries that wear on a catcher during a season, even a shortened one. Having Cervelli as a tutor should help Alfaro defensively, where he needs some improvement, and with calling a game.

Positioning Alfaro as DH and Cervelli as catcher immediately improves Miami’s defense. And while Cervelli isn’t known for his plate production, his 19.2 percent career-strikeout rate means he should put the ball in play more often than not.

James Rowson & the Future

Miami added James Rowson to Mattingly’s staff this offseason Not only will the former Minnesota Twins hitting coach be the Marlins bench coach, but he’ll also work with hitting coach Eric Duncan. These two have been tasked with developing a program to improve every level of the organization at the plate. And being from the AL, Rowson is very familiar with deploying a DH.

Last season, Rowson’s Twins hit a league-best 307 home runs. The Marlins? A paltry 146, a league worst. Minnesota sported one of the most potent offenses in MLB, and his signing with the Marlins may prove to be the best offseason addition of the year. The addition of a Universal DH will only aid in that development.

For the future, a prospect like Jerar Encarnación profiles well as DH. Encarnación was one of 13 Marlins prospects selected to participate in Captain’s Camp, and during Spring Training he flashed his potential power at the plate, connecting on an over 400-foot blast in his second at-bat. At 21-years-old, he could still use some minor league seasoning, but the DH spot may speed up his arrival to the bigs.

Yasiel Puig?

Yasiel Puig is on the record stating that the Marlins were among the teams to make him a contract offer. He rejected Miami’s advances, in part, because he wanted a bigger contract. Playing in a city with deep Cuban roots might mean fans would place unrealistic expectations on him.

Puig had an uneven 2019. Overall, he slashed .267/.327/.458 between stints in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Prior to the trade, Puig connected on 22 of his 24 homers for the year. But afterwards, his batting average and on-base percentages improved dramatically (.297/.377).

Having a DH slot would allow Miami to bring in this high-profile name to excite the fan base. If Puig performs well, once fans are allowed in again, there could be an attendance spike not seen since the days of Jose Fernandez on the mound.

Uncertain Future for MLB Among Rule Changes, Labor Differences

Baseball is at a crossroads.

From the no- spitting rule to the trade deadline fast approaching, there are a huge number of changes coming to the MLB that have rustled the feathers of the union and players at this time. With a huge amount of speculation from the MLB and the rush towards returning to sport after the Coronavirus pandemic, the uncertain future and ongoing disagreements continue. In this article, we will be looking at the changes to the MLB and what to look forward to for the return to sport.

 

The Return To The MLB Following The Pandemic

A return to the MLB is something that is being strongly considered at this time as a number of the worlds leading teams to head back to training in the coming weeks. With a number of the New York’s major teams such as the Yankees training in Florida until the pandemic dies down in the heart of New York, there are many wondering when a safe return to the MLB will continue. With many in the league hoping for a quick return to the league, there was an ergonomic plan for the return to sport sent to the Union on the 25th of May. This will, of course, determine when the league will return in a safe manner. This is something that the MLB higher-ups have been criticised for throughout this process as the union as well as some players who believe the higher-ups are pushing for a return to the sport without considering the health of players and the staff involved.

 

Ongoing Negotiations At The MLB

As the talks continue for the resumption of the league ion the near future, there is a vast amount of uncertainty surrounding the league at this time. With the resumption of the league still up in the air as well as changes to the league with new rules and legislation, the 2020 season is set to be a huge year for the sport. In addition to this, there are ongoing talks for the contract to the minor leagues. With the contract coming to an end in September, there is a vast amount of talk surrounding the future of the MLB purchasing the minor leagues and giving it a revamp. This will provide the minor league with the stability that it needs at this uncertain time with the sponsorships and funding for the development of the leagues. With the rosters expanding, in the new season, the MLB is looking to make the most of the downtime and come back stronger when the game returns soon. Though this is proving to be difficult at this time with disagreements between several teams as well as the unions, there are soon to be some major news with the resumption of the baseball league to screens.

 

The Oncoming Trade Deadline

Whilst talks for the beginning of the 2020 league continue, there is also the deadline for trades fast approaching. Despite there being no live sport played at this time a number of the major basketball leagues are looking to sign brand new players. With the deadline fast approaching on July 31st of this year, all signings have to be secured at this time. One of the most high-profile trades at this time is Kris Bryant. With several MVP players being moved in the offseason with several clubs in the league already approaching the Cubs to purchase the player for the 2020 season, this is definitely one to watch in the near future. Many have been placing bets on the MLB season as well as popular trades on the 2020 transfer market in any of the different betting sites available.

 

The Proposal Of The Non-Spitting Rule

The final major way that is being changed is the implementation of the non-spitting rule. This is one of the newest legislation to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic and is proposing that players are not able to spit in the dugout. This, however, is a rule that may not be able to be enforced as there are different reasons that players spit. This has had many players upset with fans unsure as to what the future holds for the MLB as a whole.

With this in mind, there are a huge number of changes coming for the MLB that are set to see them come out stronger in the near future.

 

Who Should the Marlins Pick First?

Quick Overview

With the 2020 NFL Draft over, the 2020 MLB Draft is now around the corner and the Marlins need to get their first pick right. The Marlins are now in the third year of their rebuild since Derek Jeter took over as CEO in 2017 and he’s done a great job at bringing in talent back into the organization.

The team should draft a pitcher in the first round to make up for trading Zac Gallen and Chris Valimont last season. Gallen was very highly regarded before making his MLB debut with a 9-1 win-loss record and a 1.77 ERA during his 2019 minor league season. Chris Valimont hasn’t seen an inning above A-Ball but he has shown promise during his time in the minors posting a career 3.79 ERA in 156.2 innings pitched.

Who Should the Marlins Draft at #3

The Marlins have the third overall pick in this year’s draft, but who should they use that pick on? My pick would be Emerson Hancock out of the University of Georgia. Hancock is ranked as the fourth-best prospect and the second-best pitching prospect in this years draft. Two reasons why I think the Marlins should draft Hancock over Asa Lacy who is the top pitching prospect in the draft. Velocity and command. Hancock has a better-rated fastball and his command is rated better than Asa Lacy. 

A look at Hancock below courtesy of @BaseballAmerica

Emerson Hancock

Emerson Hancock is a 6’4 right-handed starting pitcher out of the University of Georgia. He was originally drafted in the 38th round of high school by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He features a fastball that he uses to frequently pound the strike zone as well as three offspeed pitches that scouts consider to be “plus pitches” because he has the ability.

His fastball sits around 94-97mph but it can top out at 99mph with movement. Despite not using his changeup much, he is still able to locate it pretty well. His wipeout pitch is his slider that sits around the mid-80s with some nasty break. The only downside to Hancock is that he injured his lat his sophomore year of college.

Scouts compare Hancock to Tigers 2018 #1 draft pick Casey Mize, similar size as well as similar pitch repertoire as well as both missing time their sophomore year of college with injuries.

In my opinion, Hancock is the best pitcher in this draft and the Marlins should take the opportunity to draft him if he is still available at #3, which I do fully anticipate him being available.

A look at Hancock’s knee-buckling pitches below courtesy of @PitchingNinja

CORONAVIRUS Sports Tracker: Frequent Updates

The widespread coronavirus outbreak has impacted professional and collegiate sports across the nation.

Most recent at the top….

Hey, finally some good news!

—-
THE MASTERS is now postponed. Could mark first time in history that the tournament is not played in April.


—-

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP is now cancelled, along with every PGA event till the first week of April.

…..

Charles Barkley is among the latest to self-quarantine.

 

The Heat are working on something to help arena workers. More details to come.

 

Some NBA teams are doing the right thing.

 

Dwyane Wade doesn’t understand what the local school officials here are doing.

 

The XFL has caved. So much for the rebirth… for now.

 

It’s now infecting international soccer.

 

NBA will be suspended for 30 days.

Essentially that means the regular season is over.

 

Goodbye March Madness.

 

More details on the NBA coming soon.

 

Dan Gilbert is ahead of Micky Arison on something.

One league seems intent on outlasting all the others.

The entire ACC has postponed spring practice for all teams, which may also put the Hurricanes spring game in jeopardy.

 

Fans of the Marlins will have to wait a few extra weeks…

The American Airlines Arena has canceled all major events for the rest of March.

 

There will also be no NFL Spring meeting in Palm Beach for the time being.

 

 

The National Hockey League has suspended their season as well.

 

 

 

The Florida Atlantic University basketball season is over….

NFL now headed for a shutdown. Hard to see how free agency proceeds as scheduled…

So much for that InterMiami home debut.

Yes, it is already affecting prep for the NFL draft.

We are now waiting on the NHL.

A second NBA star has been diagnosed.

 

After it was learned Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, the NBA has suspended the season indefinitely.

 

The NCAA had already announced that all men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be held without fans.

 

Locally, besides the Miami Heat other sporting events are being cancelled or postponed including the upcoming Miami Open.

 

Predicting the Marlins Opening Day Rotation

The Marlins rotation enters the 2020 Spring Training with an abundance of starting pitching options. However, there are only five spots up for grabs, maybe even six if Don Mattingly sees fit. Nonetheless, spots in the rotation are limited but, who would take those spots? Let’s start off with who SHOULDN’T be in the rotation on opening day.

Who Shouldn’t be in The Rotation

First is Jose Ureña. Ureña does have decent numbers as a starter but I don’t think he should even be with the Marlins on Opening Day. He would just be taking a spot from a more deserving prospect such as Sixto Sanchez. A trade would be preferable before the start of the season but if not, another move to the bullpen would be sufficient.

Second would be Elieser Hernandez. Don’t get me wrong, Hernandez was one of our best pitchers last year and when he was called upon to be a starter, he didn’t disappoint. However, I think he should be moved to the bullpen. With his experience as a starter, he could be used in a long-relief type of position while refraining from taking a starter spot from a promising prospect.

 Who Should be in The Rotation (In Order)

Sandy Alcantara should definitely be the Opening Day starter for the Marlins after his All-Star season in 2019. He was electric, exciting to watch, and the fans loved to watch him pitch because more times than not he gave them a performance worth watching. He was the Marlins’ only representative at the 2019 All-Star game in Cleveland.  He finished the season with 3.88 ERA while logging 197.1 innings pitched, 151 strikeouts, and batters hit for a .241 average against him. Not too shabby for his rookie year. A look at Alcantara below. (via @Marlins)

The second spot in the rotation should go to Caleb Smith. Smith had a promising first-half for the Marlins during the 2019 season. In 13 starts he accumulated a 3.50 ERA, 88 strikeouts and hitters were only hitting for a .201 average against him. He was receiving national media attention for the success he was having as the Marlins’ ace before he went down with an injury in early June. After spending a month on the injured list, he wasn’t the same when he came back. Smith finished the season with a 10-11 record, a 4.52 ERA while logging 153.1 innings pitched with 168 strikeouts. Video of Smith below. (via @Marlins)

The third rotation spot should go to Pablo Lopez. Pablo has great stuff and has showed promise when he is on the field. Lopez was placed on the injured list on June 19th and didn’t return to the rotation until August 26th. Before going on the injured list, Pablo was 6-5 with a 4.23 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched, he was doing quite well was showing much promise before going down with a shoulder injury yet again. A look at the movement of Pablo’s pitches below.               (via @AugustineMLB)

The fourth rotation spot should be where Jordan Yamamoto will end up. Yamamoto shined during his first six starts he started with a 4-0 record with a 1.59 ERA in 34 innings pitched with 34 strikeouts. He was also receiving national media attention because of the hot streak he was on during his first six career starts. Towards the end of July, he started to have command issues and his numbers began to spiral downhill which was expected to come from a rookie starting pitcher. Nobody expected his hot streak to last the rest of the season. A look at Yamamoto attached below. (via @MLBPipeline)

The fifth rotation spot in my honest opinion should go to Marlins top prospect Sixto Sanchez. Sixto is ranked as the 5th best starting pitching prospect in all of baseball and is ranked 22nd in MLBPipeline’s top 100. He spent his 2019 season in the minor leagues and he was impressive. In 103 innings pitched, he accumulated an 8-4 record with a 2.53 ERA while striking out 97 hitters. He is a ground-ball producing machine but his ability to control all of his pitches including his offspeed such as a changeup and breaking balls while having plus movement on his fastball that constantly reaches triple digits. Sanchez will be placed on an innings plan and where better place to monitor that the innings plan is being followed than in the major league rotation.

A look at Sixto is below. (via @Jasenelpartido)

Related:

Winslow, Butler Practice for Miami Heat, Will Travel

For all their success this year, the Miami Heat have yet to accomplish one important goal . . . fielding a healthy roster.  The Heat came into the season missing their newly signed superstar, Jimmy Butler, due to the birth of his first child.  And there were the self-inflicted setbacks, most notably from high-paid reserves Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

But most concerning has been the rash of injuries that has plagued the Heat’s back court rotation of Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic.  The injuries to both of Miami’s point guards has led to an increased burden on Butler and a “playoff-style” rotation of 8 or 9 players that has seemingly shown in weary legs at the end of road games and back to back scenarios.  Even with Dragic’s recent return and stellar play, the shortened rotation has still been in place thanks to the uneven play of forwards Kelly Olynyk and Chris Silva.

Reinforcements, however, look to be on the way with a breakout game from Johnson Sunday night against the Blazers.  Johnson’s size, playmaking ability and defense were on display for the first time in months as he finally received the nod from Coach Erik Spoelstra with Butler taking the night off.  “We stay ready around here,” replied Johnson when asked how he was able to shake off the rust of weeks on the bench to impact the game in such a fashion.

And it would seem that the return of Winslow may be on the horizon as he was upgraded to questionable on Sunday night, even though he didn’t play.  Monday Winslow was seen swimming with dolphins and teammate Bam Adebayo and Tuesday Spoelstra told media that he practiced with the team and was travelling to Indiana for Wednesday’s game against the Pacers, a positive sign.

Butler practiced with the team as well, which is a good signal that he will be available as well on Wednesday night.  So a fully healthy Heat squad is finally a real possibility in the coming days which should be a welcome sign to Spoelstra and his staff, as well as present new rotation challenges.  But after weeks of riding an 8-man rotation, those are great challenges to have.

Recap of The Marlins Offseason Before The 2020 Season

The Marlins have had a rather successful offseason despite not reeling in any of the prized free agents. From the start, attracting big free agents such as Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strausburg, and Anthony Rendon was never in the Marlins plans for this offseason. Bringing in veterans on short term deals while upgrading the line-up has been the plan. Low risk, high reward.

Staring The Offseason 

To start off their offseason, the Marlins designated two players for assignment, J.T Riddle, and Tayron Guerrero. J.T Riddle elected free agency while Tayron Guerrero was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox. The Marlins grew weary of Guerrero’s inability to throw strikes consistently. throwing 100mph does no good if it isn’t in the zone. Designating Riddle for assignment was to make room on the 40 man roster.

Adding Bats

After subtracting two players from their team, it was time the Marlins added to their team. The team made a trade with the Baltimore Orioles to acquire Jonathan Villar for Minor League left-handed pitcher Easton Lucas.

Villar hit for a .274 average, 24 home runs, 73 runs batted in, and he stole 40 bases for the Orioles last season. Villar has the speed and power combination that is perfect for Marlins Park especially now that the fences have been brought in. His power side is hitting from the left side and hitting a home run to left field is easier to do than to right field.

Villar can play a multitude of positions including second base, shortstop, third base, and some outfield if he needed to.

Shortly after acquiring Jonathan Villar from the Orioles, the Marlins claimed first baseman, Jesus Aguilar, from the Tampa Bay Rays off waivers. The Marlins needed to fill a power hole in their line up. They ranked last in all of Major League Baseball in hitting home runs and desperately need some power bats in their line up.

Aguilar did not have a spectacular year last season but he does have a reputation to be an elite power hitter like he was in Milwaukee back in the 2017 season. He hit for a .236 average, 12 home runs, and 50 RBIs last season for the Rays.

With the hiring of new hitting coach/offensive coordinator  James Rowson, it’s possible that we see an upstep in production from underproducing hitters like Aguilar.

Hitting the Free Agent Market

After making trades and claiming players off waivers, the Marlins finally dug into the free-agent market. They started off free agency by bringing in strike-throwing reliever Yimi Garcia on a two-year deal. Garcia was previously with the Los Angeles Dodgers and in 62.1 innings pitched, he posted a 3.61 ERA with a .178 opponent batting average against him.

After signing Garcia, the Marlins went and signed more bats. Bringing in outfielder Matt Kemp on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Kemp hardly played last season but in 2018 he hit for a .290 average while hitting 21 home runs and driving in 85 RBIs and leading the Dodgers to the World Series.

The first biggest free-agent signing made by this new ownership is the signing of outfielder Corey Dickerson. The Marlins signed Dickerson to a two-year $17.5 million dollar deal. In 2019, Dickerson hit for a .304 average, 12 home runs, and 59 RBIs in 260 at-bats.

The Marlins recently signed veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli to a one year contract. Cervelli will provide a veteran catcher presence and will help develop our young pitchers into potential aces. 

Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft wasn’t very exciting this year. The Marlins’ biggest move however from the draft was selecting RHP Sterling Sharp from the Washington Nationals. Sharp is an excellent pickup who will go directly into the Marlins bullpen to start the 2020 season if he is healthy. Sharp produced a 3.53 ERA in 58.1 innings pitched while allowing only ONE homerun. He is a groundball specialist and will prove to be very useful for the Marlins bullpen needs.