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Marlins Best Trade Assets

The July 31st trade deadline is only a week away and the Marlins are clearly sellers. The possibility of Miami trading one of their starting pitchers is now nothing but a memory. Trevor Richards was the most likely to be traded but a string of bad starts has deteriorated his value. In July, Richards is 0-3 with a 8.40 ERA. He has allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings pitched while being struck for four home runs. His future is likely in the bullpen for the Marlins.

With Richards no longer having trade value, who is next up? Well there a few and they’re all veterans. Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson, Sergio Romo are among players who are more than likely gone by the deadline. I would have included Miguel Rojas in the list but I don’t see Miami trading him, his leadership is his greatest trait for the young core.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro has been on an absolute tear in July. Through 17 games in July, Castro is hitting for a .333 average with three home runs, nine RBIs and a .912 OPS. By far his best month to this point. He’s also hitting better during away games than he does at home, so a change of scenery could also be a factor in his value. Castro is hitting for a .265 average with five home runs and 22 BRIs in away games, clearly would play better away from unforgiving Marlins Park.

Neil Walker

Neil Walker was the Marlins’ best hitter before having a stint on the injured list. July hasn’t been his best month but his season hasn’t been terrible. Hitting for a .266 average with five home runs, 19 RBIs and a .730 OPS. He can play multiple positions and is a switch hitter. His ability to play multiple positions and to be able to hit from both sides of the plate will be nice a addition to a contender’s bench during a playoff run.

Curtis Granderson

To be quite honest, Granderson might be the toughest to trade besides Castro and his contract. Granderson has massively underperformed this year. Through 86 games this season, he is hitting for a .181 average with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in 237 at-bats. Not very good value with Granderson, but a contender may have a need for a lefty bench bat with a history of playoff experience.

Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo may have the best trade value of the four veterans. He has playoff and World Series experience under his belt as well as three World Series Championships. Through 36 games so far for the Marlins, Romo has a 2-0 record with a 3.68 ERA and 16 saves. A contending team that has had bullpen issues this year such as the Nationals, Brewers, Red Sox, Twins, Phillies, and maybe the Dodgers who are looking to solidify their already decent bullpen may inquire about Romo and give up a pretty decent prospect for him. The July 31st Trade Deadline should be fun.

JJ Bleday learned from hometown ‘legend’ before pro start

Before starting his professional baseball career with the Single-A Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads, JJ Bleday got to learn from a member of the Miami Marlins organization whom he considers a legend.

No, it wasn’t Derek Jeter, who drafted him No. 4 overall in this year’s MLB Draft.

It wasn’t Don Mattingly, a fellow New York Yankees legend who manages the team.

The “legend” Bleday refers to is veteran corner infielder Neil Walker.

“He’s a legend in my area,” Bleday said. 

Bleday grew up in Titusville, PA, a small town close to Pittsburgh, where Walker grew up. He moved to the Florida Panhandle after his sophomore year and played college ball at Vanderbilt University, where he hit an NCAA-leading 27 home runs while leading the Commodores to a national championship.

Bleday said he met Walker during his childhood on the flight back to Pittsburgh from Arizona. Bleday was attending a baseball showcase that his brother was in while Walker was at teammate Joel Hanrahan’s wedding. Hanrahan was the closer for the Pirates around the same time Walker’s career was beginning to blossom. The two took a picture together and a decade later they meet again as members of the same organization.

The two met during batting practice the day Bleday signed with the Marlins and Walker recognized him.

“I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or trying to be nice,” Bleday said. “It’s crazy how that comes around. He’s a legend in Pennsylvania. He’s won state titles in both baseball and football in Pine-Richland and that’s one of the biggest levels of High School in Pennsylvania in terms of 5A and 6A. He’s a good role model and great player and it’s crazy to share that with him.”

”He made me feel really old,” Walker said with a smile. “He said he followed the Pirates when he was a kid and he remembered watching me when I first got up to the Major Leagues in 2009-10. He definitely made me feel old.”

Batting practice is a small sample size when trying to assess a player’s skill but Walker seemed impressed with Bleday at the cage.

“He’s got a short swing. He’s got really good hands, getting the barrel to the ball,” Walker said. “Just in batting practice, you can kind of tell those things. And on top of being a good hand/eye guy, he’s got power, so that’s kind of a mixture that you look for in guys that’s pretty rare. It’s typically either one or the other. Guys who are power guys but don’t quite have the contact skills but he seems to have both and have a lot of skills as a hitter.”

While taking batting practice, Bleday made sure to learn from Walker and other veterans on the Marlins. Bleday said the most important lesson he got from them was on time management.

“You’re going to always have time with family and friends when they come and watch you play and all that,” Bleday said. “Make sure you are a little bit of selfish when it comes to staying back in your routine and getting back to the middle of playing baseball because that’s your primary objective.”

Having signed a one-year deal, Walker is likely to be traded by the MLB Trade Deadline and despite Bleday starting in High A, it’s not certain whether or not both will be playing on the same field by the time JJ debuts. Maybe the stars aligned when Walker signed and Bleday got drafted by the same team at the same year so he could have that rare moment with the local legend.

Marlins Ink Top Two Picks in Bleday and Misner

The Miami Marlins have agreed to terms with their top two draft picks from this year’s draft, JJ Bleday and Kamerson Misner. It was first reported by Jon Heyman (via@JonHeyman) on Wednesday, that Bleday and the Marlins have come to an agreement and a deal was in place. Earlier today, Bleday passed his physical and now the deal is official and he can begin is professional career.

Bleday is the fourth overall pick and he will be receiving a signing bonus of $6,670,000. That’s $3,000 above the pick value. Misner is the Marlins’ competitive balance round pick (35th overall) and will be receiving a bonus of $2,115,000, about $19,000 above the pick value (via @jimcallis). Signing these two picks is huge for the organization, could shape up to be the most talented draft in franchise history.

Let’s get to know our new members of the Marlins family!

JJ Bleday

Previously drafted by the Padres in 2016 out of high school, he decided not to sign and attend Vanderbilt instead. Bleday attended Vanderbilt University for three years before being selected by the Marlins his junior year with the fourth overall pick in the draft.

In 51 games as a freshman for Vanderbilt, Bleday hit for a .251 average with two home runs and 22 RBIs. A rather disappointing season but still room to grow.

He decided to play summer ball in the New England Collegiate Baseball League where he batted for a .232 average with two home runs in 69 at bats. The summer league definitely helped him because in his sophomore season, there was a rise in his numbers.

Sidelined for 22 games with an oblique injury, Bleday appeared in 39 games producing a .368 average with four home runs and 15 RBIs. A very nice increase in average and a slight increase in homers.

His junior year is where things really took off. He played 36 games in the Cape Cod Baseball League before his junior collegiate season, and hit .311 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. He was named the “Top Professional Prospect” because of his performance.

His junior year was an amazing showcase of his talent and hard work to be the player he knows he can be. He accumulated a .347 average with 27 home runs (Led the nation), and 72 RBIs while leading Vanderbilt to winning the D-1 National Title in 71 games.

Bleday was named the Southeastern Conference Baseball Player of the Year after his junior season. Player of the Year and a National Title, not too bad of year for the Marlins fourth overall pick.

Now onto our other signee in Kameron Misner.

Kameron Misner

Perviously drafted out of high school in 2016 by the Kansas City Royals, he decided not to sign and attend the University of Missouri instead. He attended Missouri until the end of his junior year as he is the 35th overall pick in the draft by the Marlins.

Named Freshman All-American by D1Baseball his freshman year at Missouri, after batting .282 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 58 games. A very good start to his college career.

The summer after his freshman year, he played in the New England Collegiate Baseball League where he accumulated a .378 average with eight home runs, 25 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 135 at bats.

His sophomore season is where things began to take off. In 34 games before a foot injury sidelined him for the final 22 games of the season, Misner hit for a .360 average with four home runs and 25 RBIs.

In 56 games during the 2019 collegiate season, Misner hit for a .286 average with ten home runs, 32 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. Very nice season for the Marlins 35th overall pick and a very successful draft for the Marlins.

 

With plenty of injured Marlins rehabbing, who should stay and who should go?

Martin Prado began his rehab assignment in Jupiter on Wednesday and went 1-3 while playing first base without issue. It’s likely that Prado will return soon and assume his place in the Marlins active roster as a reserve corner infield with veteran presence.

He’s batting .239 in 155 at-bats but is entering the final year of his three-year contract and is one of the leaders of the team. He’s clearly coming back and Yadiel Rivera is most likely the one to go back to Triple-A New Orleans. Rivera is batting .267 with a .353 on-base percentage in his last 15 at-bats but is hitting .184 overall in a utility role.

Prado is not the only one soon coming off the injured list. Relief pitcher Tayron Gurerrero is also in Jupiter for his rehab assignment. The Marlins called up Jeff Brigham in his place at the time of the injury. Brigham is now in New Orleans as well so either Jose Quijada (2.16 WHIP) or one of the three starting pitchers that were called up to fill holes in the rotation caused by injury.

Elieser Hernandez pitched in Caleb Smith’s place and has gone 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. Smith has returned and Hernandez has experience in the bullpen in case he moves over with Gurerrero if he doesn’t go back to Triple-A New Orleans to continue starting.

“It could be either way,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said on June 30. “It’s been something that we talked about and it’s probably going to go back to what’s best for each guy and what’s best for the organization. Is it best for him to be in the bullpen not pitching very often or is it best for him to get the ball every five days and continue to grow? So that’s going to be the question that we talk about within the organization, development and what’s best for that individual’s development.”

Jon Berti was also in the middle of rehab assignment in New Orleans since June 29. He played full-time in the Baby Cakes four-game series going 6-for-15 with a pair of home runs before straining his hamstring and having to halt his rehab.

Catcher Chad Wallach is close to returning from his concussion but lead the Marlins into a roster quagmire with Bryan Holaday . The competition in spring training came a tie in which the tiebreaker went to the player already on the 40-man roster. But now both are on roster but both can not be there together so long as Jorge Alfaro is healthy. Carrying three catchers usually doesn’t make sense when there’s plenty of need everywhere else on the roster.

Before the injury, Wallach was batting .250 with a .708 OPS and a home run in 48 at-bats. Holaday, with three less at-bats, is slashing .311/.404/.489 with two home runs. This might be one where it makes the most sense for the Marlins to leave Wallach in New Orleans after he is cleared to return.

The rest of July will be a period of roster juggling between players returning from injury and possible trades. Every veteran on the team will be on the trade block, even if the return may not be much.

What Should Marlins do With Surplus of Starting Pitchers in MLB?

The Miami Marlins have one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball. They currently own the 7th best rotation ERA in the league, not just National League, but in all of Major League Baseball. With a 3.92 rotation ERA, they place behind the Rays, Dodgers, Nationals, Reds, Twins, and Astros. 

With the current rotation doing as well as they have, what should the Marlins do when Jose Urena and Pablo Lopez return from the IL?. Personally, I think the Marlins should trade Trevor Richards before/at the deadline. 

Between the staff, Richards has the fourth highest ERA behind Jose Urena, Zac Gallen, and Pablo Lopez. Jose Urena and Pablo Lopez have been on the injured list so they haven’t had a chance to lower their ERAs. Zac Gallen only has twelve major league innings to his name so there’s not much to go off of there. Gallen has shown a lot of promise, just needs to limit his walks.

  • Jose Urena (4.70 ERA)
  • Zac Gallen (4.50 ERA)
  • Pablo Lopez (4.23 ERA) 
  • Trevor Richards (4.18 ERA)

Let’s say Richards has been traded at the deadline, and Urena and Lopez are back from the IL, what should the Marlins do now? Well, there are now seven starting pitchers that could get a rotation spot, but there are only five spots. I say move Urena and Elieser Hernandez to the bullpen.

Urena has the stuff to be in a middle relief type of role and Hernandez already has bullpen experience so I don’t think this is a bad situation

What Could The Rotation Look Like?

Use the rotation that will give the club the best opportunity to win a game, and in my opinion that rotation looks like this:

  • Caleb Smith
  • Sandy Alcantara
  • Jordan Yamamoto
  • Pablo Lopez
  • Zac Gallen

I could make the argument that Yamamoto should be the number one starter or the “Ace” of the staff because of how amazing he has been but he only has 29 innings pitched. As a result, Caleb Smith seemed like the more obvious choice as the front of the rotation pitcher. 

This is a Top 10 in the league rotation, possibly even Top 5. I mean they’re already Top 7 so Top 5 is definitely doable. All the team needs now is some run producing bats and in fact, they’re on their way. A trade for a very highly regarded Cleveland Indian (I won’t say any names) may be possible this offseason if Cleveland decides to sell.

Some impactful free agent bats are also on the Marlins’ radar this offseason as well. Players eligible for free agency this offseason that could be targeted by the Marlins include:

  • Jose Abreu
  • Didi Gregorius 
  • Marcell Ozuna
  • Yasiel Puig
  • Nicholas Castellanos

It’s going to be a fun offseason and the trade deadline is only the beginning. 

The Isan Diaz dilemma: when should he get the call-up?

Isan Diaz is one of the four players that came to the Miami Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade.

The trade that most of the MLB annalysts call a win for the Brewers, even though we haven’t seen all the parts included to play in the majors.

Jordan Yamamoto was a great surprise for the world of baseball, and even for some Marlins fans, because he was supposed to be the least attractive of the four players that came from the Brewers.

He had to be called up because of the injuries some Marlins pitchers were dealing with, and performed setting new records for rookie starters in MLB.

Lewis Brinson missed his first shot in the majors, but should be back up with the time at some point this year, and Monte Harrison should make his MLB debut this season also.

However, Isan Diaz is the one putting us to think when he will get a call-up.

Starlin Castro is having his worst season as a professional baseball and will probably not be with the team next year, so for our Leandro Soto, it is the right time to bring Díaz to the majors.

Check Leandro’s heated exchange with Joe Frisaro, of MLB.com, about the subject:

And finally, what he and Ricardo Montes de Oca, of Cinco Razones Podcast, discussed during their radio show at 990 ESPN Deportes. 

For them,  Diaz’s call up should be coming soon, since Brian Anderson is injured, and will probably end up in the injury list.

For Leandro, he should come up and play second base, the position he has been playing in the minors this year, and move the Dominican to third base.

 

I feel like Castro should not stop the Marlins from giving Diaz a very deserved shot, especially since he is just a veteran performing under what is expected from him.

It’s the time to move Castro to third, or figure out a way to give Diaz a chance to play four or five days a week.

The Marlins have done it with their young pitchers. Why not do it with their position players too?

What do you think? Is it time now or should the Marlins wait until September?

 

Listen to Cinco Razones Podcast clicking here. We will be back talking about the second part of the season soon, so Tony and Dutch, if you guys are reading this, you better get ready!

Most Pleasant Surprise of Marlins’ First Half? Jordan Yamamoto.

Through all the disappointments and hard times of the Marlins’ first half there were a few bright spots to be excited about. I’m only going to be talking about one exciting bright spot in Jordan Yamamoto.

Acquired in the Christian Yelich trade, Yamamoto was thought of as the least regarded prospect in the trade. Yet, he has outperformed his fellow trade pieces, who have performed very well at the minor league level. He has made his way onto the big league scene before Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz have. *Lewis Brinson is progressing very well.*

Both Harrison and Diaz have had great seasons thus far for Triple-A New Orleans but an immediate need in the rotation due to injury opened the door for Yamamoto to make the big league club out of Double-A Jacksonville.

In five starts for the Marlins, Yamamoto holds a 3-0 record with a 1.24 ERA, yes a 1.24 ERA… I don’t think that’s too bad for a “throw in” piece. In 29 innings pitched, he has allowed 11 hits and he hasn’t allowed more than THREE hits in any of his outings. That makes him only the THIRD pitcher since 1900 to have five straight starts without allowing more than three hits. He also hasn’t allowed a home run this season. (via @DuseReport)

His slider has been his best pitch and it’s un-hittable, literally. Batters are 0-31 with 19 strikeouts against his slider, yes 19 strikeouts. Hitters are having trouble hitting his other pitches also. Batters are only hitting for a .117 average and only have 11 hits against him.

An impressive stat for Jordan Yamamoto is that he holds the longest streak of allowing no more than three earned runs and three hits or less while pitching four innings or more to start a career with five straight starts that meet that criteria. (via @MaxSportsStudio)

He shut down a very hot Atlanta Brave’s lineup in probably his best outing of the season in my opinion, based on who he faced. Video below of his dominance against Atlanta. (via @Marlins)

I think he could be a possible NL Rookie of the Year candidate this year, he would have to beat Mets’ Pete Alonso to win it but he could definitely be a candidate if he keeps pitching the way he has been. 

Hey now, Sandy Alcantara is an All-Star

The Miami Marlins called up Sandy Alcantara on June 28, 2018, for the first time since acquiring him along with Daniel Castano, Magneuris Sierra and Zac Gallen in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals for Marcel Ozuna.

One year later and he is heading to the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 9, in Cleveland.

“I feel great,” Alcantara said. “I feel really happy to get to the All-Star [Game] and represent my team and my family.”

The 23-year-old right-hander has posted a 3.86 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 13 starts this season and is the fifth Marlins’ rookie to make it to the All-Star Game, joining Alex Gonzalez (1999), Dontrelle Willis (2003), Dan Uggla (2006) and the late Jose Fernandez (2013).

“I’m really happy for Sandy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s a kid that we feel is getting better through the course of the season, from last year to this year. We still feel like this is the tip of the iceberg for him. Hopefully, it’s one of many.”

The fans picked the starters and the players voted for the reserves. The Commissioner’s Office was tasked with filling out both the National League and American League rosters, making sure that every team had at least one representative. The Marlins are in the middle of a rebuild under new ownership that centers around starting pitching so it was only fitting that one of their best pitchers received the honor.

Alcantara’s next start is at Washington on Wednesday and would be on schedule to pitch during the All-Star Game.

Jon Berti

Jon Berti working his way back from injury but with no guarantees

Jon Berti recently began his minor league rehab assignment in Triple-A New Orleans on Saturday and is expected to take it all the way into the MLB All-Star Break next week. He played centerfield and drove in a run his first game since injuring his quad. 

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday that he read the report on Berti and received a text from New Orleans manager Keith Johnson first thing in the morning, saying that he played seven innings without setback.  

“He came out healthy and he looked pretty good,” Mattingly said. 

Just a few hours later, Berti hit two solo home runs to power New Orleans past Memphis 6-3. In 15 total games in the minors, Berti is hitting .302 with a 1.078 OPS. Those stats can be taken with a grain of salt, considering most of the players who had success in the Pacific Coast League received the call up to the big leagues and were unable to replicate that success.

Once Berti returns, his role is still a mystery. He was used as a utility infielder who has seen time at centerfield and slashed .268/.362/.463 in his last 15 games prior to his injury.

“Bert was good while he was here,” Mattingly said, “and it was unfortunate that he got hurt but now he’s got go get ready to play again and then we make decisions. So he’s going to have to be productive in what he’s doing. Obviously he’s on the IL but there’s no guarantee that he just starts here again. There’s different things you can do. I’m saying that in a bad way. It’s just that there’s no true plan. If Bert’s doing what he was doing before, he was having good at-bats for us, he was a spark in our lineup, a guy that could steal a bag. He knows how to play. There’s a lot of things to like but he’s got to get back to where he’s rolling again and then we can make a decision.”

JT Riddle was called back up to the Marlins on May 31. Through the month of June, he has batted .215 with a .647 OPS. All four of his home runs came in the final 10 days of the month, which counted for half of his hits. There isn’t a need for the Marlins to carry both Riddle and Berti so if he were to continue rolling through rehab a big decision will have to be made after the All-Star Game. 

Caleb Smith is ready to return

Caleb Smith had his second minor league rehab start in Double-A Jacksonville on Sunday. He threw five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, including two home runs, and eight strikeouts in the Jumbo Shrimp’s 6-4 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts.

“He’s strong,” Jacksonville manager Kevin Randell said in his assessment of Smith. “Velocity’s good, location wasn’t as strong as the last outing, obviously. He gave up a couple home runs, no big deal. He’s out there just competing, getting his work in and he had good stuff tonight. He just left a couple pitches up.”

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the team wanted Smith to throw 90 pitches to build up arm strength in time for when he is activated from the 10-Day Injured List. Smith is likely to rejoin the team this coming week during their road trip at Washington and Atlanta.

“I’m not sure the exact day but his next (start) will be here,” Mattingly said.

Smith was one of the Marlins top starting pitchers until inflammation in his left hip sidelined him for almost a month. Up until June 7, he had a 3.41 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, an opposing batting average of .198 and 82 strikeouts in 66 innings over 12 starts. He’d most like be an All-Star selection had it not been for the injury.

Elieser Hernandez has pitched in Smith’s place and has gone 1-2 with a 4.07 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. Zack Gallen and Jordan Yamomoto have also been called up for the first time in their respective careers and pitched in place for Pablo Lopez and Jose Urena. Hernandez spent much of his rookie year in the Marlins bullpen so there’s a possibility that he has earned his place on the roster and is better served to return to the bullpen instead of going back to Triple-A New Orleans.

“It could be either way,” Mattingly said. “It’s been something that we talked about and it’s probably going to go back to what’s best for each guy and what’s best for the organization. Is it best for him to be in the bullpen not pitching very often or is it best for him to get the ball every five days and continue to grow? So that’s going to be the question that we talk about within the organization, development and what’s best for that individual’s development.”

One other factor is which of the young starters are under an innings limit. So far there have been no indication of such so if that’s not going to be used as a motivating factor to move towards the bullpen then a return to New Orleans for one of the three (likely Hernandez) is in order.