The Marlins are one of the MLB’s most interesting franchises. Founded in 1993, they’re a young team. They’ve never won a division title and seen the league’s fewest playoff appearances with three total. Even so, they’ve got two World Series titles to their name, and one accounts for the MLB’s only championship-winning Wild Card berth.
Needless to say, it’s been an interesting run for baseball fans in Miami. In the past few years, the Marlins have sought to rebuild their roster from the ground up. Rather than sign on trusty senior players, Don Mattingly and franchise execs are looking to revitalize the squad with up-and-coming players.
Though it’s been slow going, the team’s roster heading towards 2021’s Opening Day has depth, talent, and more than a few possible stars. As the Marlins cruise through Spring Training in Jupiter with the Cards, fans and pundits alike have their eyes on the Fish.
Each year, Spring Training gives fans the opportunity to size up their own team along with divisional competition. League experts who provide analysis on MLB betting odds rely on a team’s performance in Spring Training to gauge how rosters will be constructed heading into the regular season.
Meanwhile, on the diamond, rookies battle against each other to make it onto a team’s final 26-man roster. Though not official games, Spring Training can be some of the most high-pressure games for certain players looking to graduate from a team’s farming system, like the Marlins’ Sixto Sánchez and Trevor Rogers.
Chisolm or Díaz Take Second
With solid moves in the off-season that have left the Marlins with a nearly-set roster, this year’s battle for second base is the franchise’s most hotly-contested position. Both prospects, Jazz Chisolm and Isan Díaz, the latter of which is coming off a groin injury from 2020.
With both players plenty comfortable in the field, it’s their batting records that will likely decide who ends up on second. Though there’s also been some movement from Jon Berti, pundits and fans seem to lean on Díaz as a final candidate on the roster.
Though only 24, Díaz has more experience than Chisolm has a (slightly) better record at-bat, and is a strong, reliable player. Given the Marlins’ need for a stronger offense, the verdict is likely to land with Díaz on second, Chisolm back in Triple-A for another season, and Berti floating around as a utility player.
Rogers or Neidert Take the Mound
With 39 pitchers on their list, the Marlins don’t have an empty mound by any stretch of the imagination. But with senior talent José Ureña gone, Sandy Alcantara will be the starting pitcher, with relievers Pablo López, Sixto Sánchez, and Eleiser Hernandez jockeying behind him.
That leaves a fifth position open for a newcomer.
At the moment, pundits have their eye on Trevor Rogers and Nick Neidert to inch into the starting rotation. Though Rogers’ ERA isn’t anything to write home about at 6.11, his strikeout stats show a promising future on the mound.
However, Neidert has experience on the mound after a few appearances in 2020. Given he was already in a bullpen role last season, Neidert is the stronger candidate—though Rogers is likely to graduate from Triple-A soon.
Aguilar Takes First Base
Between Jesús Aguilar and Garrett Cooper, the obvious candidate for the first base starter is Aguilar. He’s consistent and hasn’t struggled with injuries since entering the major leagues like Cooper.
With Adam Duvall, recently signed to the Marlins, heading for the outfield, it’s likely Cooper will serve as Aguilar’s backup—though some would prefer to see him as an all-around utility player and boost at the plate. The only issue is Cooper’s ongoing health concerns.
Should he manage to go through the 2021 season without any barring injuries, he could find a more permanent place with the Marlins. However, at age 30, Cooper is running out of time to find his rhythm—especially as the Marlins look to revitalize their roster for a long-haul run in the east division.