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Pat Venditte

Marlins Roster Updates Amid COVID Outbreak

The Miami Marlins haven’t played since last Sunday. The game, which has become the source of national consternation, went on despite the beginnings of the COVID outbreak and ended with an 11-6 Marlins win. According to reports, both MLB and the Phillies were aware of the positive tests and still elected to play the game.

The story of the Marlins COVID outbreak is now subject to both an internal team investigation as well as one by MLB. While there’ve been some wildly irresponsible accusations and speculation by some members in the media, no evidence of wrongdoing has come to light.

Good News Amid the Marlins COVID outbreak

As of the latest round of testing, a 17th Marlins player saw a positive result. In good news, though, one of the two coaches who had previously tested positive has since tested negative.

Additional good news came out last night when OF Harold Ramirez, during an interview with Telemundo, revealed experiencing just light symptoms. Ramirez went on to say none of the other players were experiencing symptoms.

“Thank God I feel a little better,” Ramirez said. “I don’t have a cough anymore. And my body aches have gone away.”

The team remains sequestered in a pair of hotels in Philadelphia, and should Thursday’s tests come back with no additional positives, they could begin the process of arranging travel back to South Florida.

Miguel Rojas took to Twitter Thursday to thank Marlins fans and reassure them he’s looking forward to getting back on the field.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are facing a potential outbreak of their own. Reports today revealed Philadelphia’s series with the Blue Jays has been postponed following a pair of positive tests for the Phillies (a coach and a home clubhouse attendant).

Initial Roster Moves

All of this will eventually lead to several roster moves by the Marlins. As of Thursday afternoon, the team had only moved C Jorge Alfaro, 1B/RF Garrett Cooper, Ramirez and SP José Ureña to the 10-day Injured List. SS Miguel Rojas and SP Sandy Alcantara have also been reported as players who’ve tested positive.

On Monday, the team announced the addition of two pitchers via waivers, RHP Justin Shafer and LHP Josh D. Smith. Shafer is a South Florida native and Smith pitched for the Marlins in 2019.

Shafer made 40 relief appearances for the Blue Jays over the last two seasons. He sports a 3.75 ERA with 41 K and 32 BB over 41 IP. Smith pitched six games for Miami in 2019 and posted an 8.31 ERA. He surrendered four earned runs over 4.1 IP. The Marlins have another Josh Smith, Josh A. Smith, in the 60-man player pool as well.

Miami also signed minor league free agent outfielder Travis Snider, who last played in MLB in 2015. Over an eight-year career, Snider played 630 games and hit 54 home runs. His slash line in 2015, his last year in the Majors, is .232/.315/.350.

 

A day later, the Marlins announced they claimed RHP Mike Morin off waivers from Milwaukee. Over a six-year MLB career, the righty Morin has appeared for five different clubs, posting a 4.65 ERA.

Marlins Latest Roster Additions

A busy day unfolded for the team on Thursday as well. The Marlins have reportedly signed utility infielder Logan Forsythe, as well as a pair of former Marlins in C Wilkin Castillo and RP Pat Venditte.

Forsythe is a 9-year MLB vet who’s played for five different teams. His career slash line is .246/.327/.360. In 2019 with the Texas Rangers, Forsythe struggled, posting a .227/.325/.678 slash line with seven HR and 39 RBI. He has 42 career steals in 58 attempts.

Defensively, Forsythe provided positional flexibility. He’s made 643 appearances at second base, 143 at third, 75 at first and 36 at shortstop. He has 21 appearances in the outfield as well.

Two Former Marlins Return

Wilkin Castillo’s signing signals the return of a former Marlin. Castillo spent most of 2019 with the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans, but he played two games for Miami. He went 1-for-7 with two RBI. His 6/22/19 start came nearly 10 years to the day (6/20/09) of his last MLB appearance.

Castillo’s primary position remains catcher, but he’s played every other position on the field during his career. He’s made five pitching appearances and has two career wins in the minors. He’s played at every position on the field as well. His addition provides depth at the position, considering prospect C Will Banfield remains on the IL.

For Venditte, his signing marks a return after parting ways with Miami earlier in the Spring. At 35-tears-old, Venditte remains one of the most unique players in MLB history. He’s a “switch pitcher,” meaning he has the ability to work off the mound with either arm, depending upon the handedness of the hitter.

Venditte’s career ERA sits at 5.03 over 68 innings pitched. He’s another MLB-experienced arm to add to a Marlins pitching staff that must have been decimated by the COVID outbreak.

These additions to the pitching staff could prove particularly valuable if and when the Marlins resume their season after the COVID outbreak is contained. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday afternoon that the MLB and MLBPA on an agreement to adjust the length of double-headers to seven innings apiece. Double-headers will likely be a regular feature in any version of the schedule when the Marlins resume play.

This potential change comes on the heels of a change to the MLB’s protocols. The change to the protocol involves the use of surgical masks while traveling and the addition of a protocol compliance officer.

Marlins split

Marlins Split Exhibition Series, Beat Braves 6-2

The Miami Marlins bounced back after a disappointing loss on Tuesday night with a 6-2 win on Wednesday afternoon. The Marlins split the two-game exhibition series and, other than one bad inning, looked pretty good doing it.

The task for the team now is to trim the 41-players who traveled to Atlanta down to 30. Miami has until Thursday afternoon to pare down the roster ahead of Friday’s Opening Day tilt in Philadelphia.

What stands out the most from these two games is the improvement at the plate. In 2019, the Marlins were last in home runs and second-to-last in runs scored. Versus the Braves, Miami registered 15 runs and pounded out five homers in two games.

“We have a group that is talented,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said on a Zoom conference call Wednesday morning prior to the game.

“We’ve added some guys that are professional hitters,” Jeter said. “They add a little depth to our lineup. It’s no secret and it goes without saying that we struggled to score runs last year. You hope that these guys are going to help us score a little more.”

On Tuesday, those additions provided a huge lift. Jonathan Villar went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run, an RBI and a stolen base. Jesus Aguilar chipped in with a pair of hits and an RBI and Corey Dickerson plated two on a single.

On Wednesday, Dickerson continued to impress. He reached base on all three plate appearances, including drawing a walk on an 11 pitch at-bat where he started down 0-2. He scored twice in the game.

The real star on Wednesday, though, was Harold Ramirez. The 25-year-old right fielder demonstrated the changes he made in the batter’s box by going 2-for-3 with a home run and a double and three RBI. His adjustments at the plate and his improved conditioning and defense have earned him a regular spot in the lineup.

Pablo Lopez started the game for the Marlins and impressed. Lopez pitched three innings and struck out three, only allowing one hit (a home run to Austin Riley). This performance lines up Lopez to make the start for the Marlins in their home opener versus the Baltimore Orioles next week.

Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyer Jr. has been impressed by Lopez throughout the spring and summer, particularly considering the passing of Lopez’s father recently. His solid outing versus the Braves followed an impressive performance during a simulated game last Thursday.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly noted after that performance that it was “the best I’ve ever seen Pablo look as far as being that aggressive guy.”

After Lopez, Elieser Hernandez entered and had a similarly solid stretch. The presumptive fifth starter tossed three innings, walking one and giving up one earned run (another Riley homer).

Prospects followed Hernandez after that. Jordan Holloway pitched the seventh and gave up two hits but induced an inning-ending double-play. Stephen Tarpley and Sterling Sharp combined to pitch an uneventful eighth (other than a Garrett Cooper error). Ryne Stanek impressed with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.

Despite the offensive outbursts, the Marlins split the exhibition series. In this one, Monte Harrison responded after a bad strikeout to double in the top of the ninth. Cooper drove him home with a single. Utilityman Eddy Alvarez padded Miami’s run total with an RBI single of his own later in the ninth.

Harrison will start the season in Jupiter but he could be with the Marlins before long.

The Marlins will need to pare down the roster to 30 men as they prepare to leave for Philadelphia. Miami opens the 2020 season versus the Phillies on Friday, when Sandy Alcantara faces off against Aaron Nola.

Recap of the 2019 Marlins

It’s hard to recap such a negative season, but here we go.

Let’s all be honest, no one expected the team to be any good whatsoever. We expected at least a 60-win season with many ups and downs. The Marlins finished the season with a 57-105 record which was pretty much expected.

I’m sure we would’ve loved to avoid 100 losses but it is what is, it did secure the third overall pick in the 2020 draft. But then, this recap would’ve probably been similar, anyway… 

There were definitely some bright spots for the Marlins this season. Just to name a few, Sandy Alcantara started to show what he can do, Jon Berti became the perfect utility man, Harold Ramirez did great in his rookie season, and Isan Diaz started to become comfortable at the major league level. Diaz started making lesser errors and showed comfort at the plate.

Here’s a recap of the positives of the season:

Sandy Alcantara

Alcantara was voted to represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game because of his start to the regular season. His Pre All-Star stats are as follows: 4-8 record, 3.82 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and an opponent batting average of .241. After the All-Star break, he hit a bump in the road where he started to show inconsistency in his fastball command and started to walk more batters. 

August he began to turn things around, in five games started he had a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched with a 27:12 strikeout to walk ratio. September came along and he reached another level. In six games started, he had a 2-2 record with a 2.59 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched with a 35:9 strikeout to walk ratio. September became Sandy’s best month without a doubt.

Jon Berti

Jon Berti blossomed into the perfect utility man. He can play all positions in the infield and outfield. He also showcased his insane speed on the base paths. He swiped 17 bases this year, he would’ve swiped more but he spent some time on the IL. In 73 games played, he hit for a .273 average with six home runs and 24 RBIs. Berti is a nice surprise for the Marlins, he definitely made a case for a roster spot next season.

Isan Diaz

Isan Diaz is an interesting story. He absolutely tore up Triple-A pitching and earned himself a call up to the show back in August. He launched a home run off Jacob deGrom in his MLB debut but rookie struggles kicked in early. He was having trouble making routine plays and was uncomfortable at the plate. As he gained more experience he became more comfortable and didn’t think too much while on the field. He ended up finishing the season with a .173 average, five home runs, and 23 RBIs. Not the best stat line but he did only play 49 games while being completely tensed up. It should be fun to see how he plays next year.

Harold Ramirez

Harold Ramirez signed with the Marlins during the 2018 offseason and what a great sign he is. In 119 games, he hit for a .276 average, hit 11 home runs and drove in 50 RBIs. He definitely showcased why he was formerly a Top 100 prospect when he was in the Blue Jays organization. He can play all three outfield positions and has a very decent defense. He without a doubt became a fan favorite for Marlins fans and earned a roster spot for the 2020 season.

Your 2019 Marlins were not the best but they did show improvement. They may have lost six more games this year than they did in 2018 but the pitching held its own and we got to see some rookies showcase their ability. The club next season will be more competitive than it was this year and it’s going to be more fun with more rookies making their debuts and some new faces from free agency…

We will be here to recap when they win the World Series…

The Cinco Razones Marlins All Star representative

The Marlins still don’t know who will represent the team in the MLB All Star Game next week in Cleveland.

Caleb Smith looked like an ace for the first couple of months, and then fell off the table, and got injured, which opened the door to other members of the roster.

Cinco Razones Podcast in English made its debut on Thursday at Marlins Park with Tony Capobianco, and DutchBeek (stuck somewhere thanks to the Miami traffic).

One of the main subjects was who we think should be the Marlin that travels to Progressive Field.

These are our options:

Miguel Rojas

The Marlins shortstop is finally getting the opportunity to play every day and his work is showing up. Before Thursday’s night’s game, Rojas was hitting .276 / .342 OBP leading the team with 16 doubles, along with Brian Anderson, and among the best defenders in the National League.

Harold Ramírez

Harold Ramírez arrived and started hitting as soon as he got the opportunity to play. The Colombian has been one of the good news this year for the Marlins.

He is hitting .315 (up to Thursday’s game), with a .351 on-base percentage, eight doubles, two homers and 17 runs batted in. With way more than 100 at bats less than most of the regular players in the Marlins roster, Ramírez has done as much or more than his teammates.

His two homeruns don’t impress anybody, especially among outfielders, but could make an interesting case as the best Marlin hitter so far.

Garrett Cooper

The Marlins stuck with Garrett Cooper despite his injuries and is paying off. Cooper is battling Ramírez for the best average of the team and has added some power to the lineup, with seven homeruns in about the same amount of at bats as Ramírez, and has the best on-base percentage of the team.

As Ramírez, his numbers don’t impress being an outfielder, and they impress even less if you put it among first basemen, but could definitively be a fair choice for the team in the All Star Game.

Sandy Alcántara

Sandy Alcántara has stayed healthy and seems like he is finally establishing himself as one of the core members of the future rotation for this team.

The Dominican has the second best ERA among starters this year (minimum 15 starts), with 3.51, just behind Smith’s 3.41, in 89.2 innings pitched, Marlins’ best.

 

Check out our first episode of Cinco Razones Podcast in English, in which we decided to pick out the Marlins representative for the MLB All Star Game 2019 in Cleveland and talked about the possibility of losing the Marlins in Miami if the fans don’t start to show up in the next few years:

Harold Ramírez y su oportunidad de oro con los Marlins

Harold Ramírez llegó a punta de batazos a Grandes Ligas. Esa es la realidad.

La poca fanaticada que aún sigue a los Marlins ha sufrido de una de los peores comienzos ofensivos de una alineación que se recuerden en la corta historia de esta franquicia.

Ramírez ganó el título de bateo en Doble A la temporada pasada con la sucursal de los Azulejos de Toronto, y luego fue campeón bate en Venezuela con los Leones del Caracas.

Harold Ramírez conversa con el dominicano Willy Adames, de los Rays de Tampa, antes del primer duelo de la serie entre Marlins y Rays en el Marlins Park, en el juego que marca el debut en las Grandes Ligas del colombiano Ramírez en su estadio / Foto de Alejandro Villegas

Llegó en Febrero con la oportunidad de ganarse un puesto en el roster del equipo grande, pero tuvo que volver a las menores con el pesar de que al parecer, todavía no estaba listo.

Sin embargo, su actuación con los New Orleans Baby Cakes le abrió la puerta al big show, y finalmente pudo hacer su debut en la capital del mundo: Nueva York.


Ramírez recibió el llamado como medida de urgencia de la gerencia de los Marlins para tratar de brindar algo de producción ofensiva, que ha sido un lamento en lo que va de temporada.

Si quiere deprimirse, puede leer este trabajo que hicimos al respecto:

El colombiano de Cartagena es el nuevo integrante de los Marlins de Miami. El tercer jugador de esa nacionalidad en unirse al roster activo de los Marlins, un record para los colombianos en la gran carpa.

Tuvimos la oportunidad de conversar con Harold Ramírez antes del primer duelo de la serie de dos juegos ante los Rays de Tampa.

Harold nos contó todo sobre su llamado, su debut en Grandes Ligas en Nueva York, lo que pensó al enfrentar a Jacob DeGrom, ganador del premio Cy Young de 2018, en su primer turno como grandeliga y lo que significa para Colombia la presencia de tres colombianos en el roster:

Ramírez ya se sacudió los nervios, y afirma no sentir presión, a pesar de que es bastante claro que su presencia en este nivel se debe a que puede ser productivo con el bate.

Los Marlins lo necesitan. O necesitan un bate productivo como lo ha sido Ramírez en todas las ligas que ha jugado antes de llegar a las mayores.

Creo que pocos lo colocamos en el lineup del futuro de los Marlins, pero si logra producir en esta oportunidad que está recibiendo, es probable que sea considerado para las temporadas siguientes, cuando sea el momento de competir de verdad para Miami.

 

Disfruta de nuestro episodios en Cinco Razones Podcast haciendo click en este link.

Moves are coming in the shaky Marlins outfield

Harold Ramírez could be finally getting the call to make his debut in the majors sometime soon.

The Miami Marlins keep struggling offensively after losing three out of four games at Wrigley Field in which they scored only 11 runs, and hit just five extra-base hits (four doubles and a homer).

Colombian outfielder Harold Ramírez could be the answer to those problems.

The Marlins outfield has been really unproductive in these first 37 games of the season.

The addition of Brian Anderson playing a few games in right field has helped a little, but the numbers are outrageous.

The only hitter above .200 is Austin Dean, who’s only played six games and is not even with the team anymore.

No one in the Marlins outfield is close to .300 of OBP, which is unbelievable.

Craig Mish and Jeremy Tache, of Swings and Mishes, talked about this subject in their most recent episode.

For Mish, Harold Ramírez “will see some action in the majors soon”.

Ramírez, who could play both corner outfields, is hitting .358/.414 OBP in 30 games with the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

If they call Harold Ramírez up the Marlins will have to add them to the 40-man roster, which would force them to take somebody out.

You can check his stats in the minors and playing winter ball in Venezuela here.

Who will get CF?

Harold Ramírez played winter ball in Venezuela with Leones del Caracas and got to play a couple of games in center field, but that is definitively not the best position for him.

Especially with that huge outfield the Marlins have at Marlins Park.

As Craig Mish and Jeremy Tache discuss, the Marlins have to sort out the centerfield position, and either Herrera or Galloway would have to go.

They can’t have both of these guys on the roster.

Granderson in left field, Herrera in center and Ramirez in right, with O’Brien as a fourth outfielder playing against lefty pitchers.

Listen to Swings and Mishes to hear the latest news about Garrett Cooper, a complete analysis of the moves the Marlins could make and a reaction to Ken Rosenthal’s article about Gary Denbow in The Athletic.