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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

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:

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.

 

Who is a Perfect Fit for Marlins?

The Marlins are determined to sign impact bats to help bolster their lineup of young players this offseason. The only question is who should they sign? There have been reports that the Marlins are interesting in bringing in free-agent outfielders Nicholas Castellanos, Avisail Garcia or perhaps a reunion with Marcel Ozuna. However, in my opinion, the one option that I believe would be more cost-friendly for the club after they burned $22 million dollars to release Wei-Yin Chen would be Yasiel Puig.

Puig hit for a .267 average while belting 24 home runs and driving in 84 RBIs during the 2019 season. His stats may not be eye-opening but for a Miami lineup who struggled to hit for power, it could be the boost they need for more run production. They say hitting is contagious and when Puig gets going, so does the rest of the line-up. (Video credit to @Starting9)

 

So, why would the Marlins go after Puig when Castellanos, Ozuna, and Garcia are on the table? Puig is from Cuba and Miami who has a vast Cuban population would go well together. Puig has a lot of energy and could provide a spark that the team along with their fans have been missing.

Fans from all over love Puig because of the antics he performs on the field, whether he’s on the opposing team or not, fans cheer him on because of his electric personality. His competitive nature brings some enjoyment and an energy boost to the long nine-inning games. Everyone knows Yasiel Puig, and to be quite honest with you, his name alone could draw in more fans to Marlins Park. 

Whether the team is down or up, Puig plays the game with the energy as if it was Game 7 of the World Series. If the Marlins do take a chance on Puig, he would be the first Cuban born player on the team since Jose Fernandez. Believe me, the Marlins and their fans need a player like Puig. They should not overlook his ability to bring up the energy and to mentor the younger players. Speaking of his energy and the World Series, here’s a video. (credit to @SportsCenter)

He has played on the game’s biggest stage more than once so he has the experience that many players don’t and the Marlins could use that to their advantage in developing their young core. He has been through his failures and has been able to overcome them and he has had his successes. Providing lessons on how to overcome those failures and to sustain those successes would be a huge lesson that Puig would be able to provide.

Should Marlins Consider Starlin Castro?

Starlin Castro had a really rough start to the 2019 season and May was by far his worst month. In May he hit for a .208 average with no home runs and 8 RBIs. He performed way below expectations for a veteran who is known for hitting ability.

Castro struggled in the first half of the season, batting for a .245 average with six home runs and 24 RBIs. His poor performance in the first half made it pretty much impossible to trade him at the deadline and if the Marlins did find a suitor for Starlin, they most likely wouldn’t have gotten much in return.

In the second half, Castro reached a new level. He hit for a .302 average, hammered 16 home runs, and drove in 52 RBIs. I know it would’ve been nice to have been able to trade Castro at/before the deadline for prospects but he became really fun to watch in the second half. He went on an absolute tear. Whether you like Castro or not, you can’t deny that he actually reached another level.

There are some people on twitter who believe that Starlin Castro purposely tanked his stats in the first half to stay with the Marlins. He ended up having a very good relationship with Miguel Rojas and Martin Prado and possibly felt like he didn’t want to be traded away from his closest friends on the team so it is a possibility. Do I think that’s the case? No, but it’s possible.

Starlin Castro finished his final year of his 7-year, $60 million dollar contract which he signed back in 2012 when he was with the Chicago Cubs, but there is a club option for him to return to the Marlins if they want him back. The option would cost the Marlins $16 million but there is definitely value in Castro. A veteran presence in the clubhouse and a mentor for Marlins rookie Isan Diaz. Castro could play second, shortstop and third so there is some versatility that comes with him.

If the Marlins do want to bring him back but don’t want to pay him $16 million, there is a $1 million buyout and they could potentially negotiate a cheaper deal. I do believe Castro has bought into what the Marlins are building and that he wants to stay in Miami. He is represented by Magnus Media, who is based in Miami, and also represents the Mesa brothers who signed with the Marlins last October.

In my opinion, I do think that the Marlins should consider bringing back Castro on a cheaper/team friendly contact. He could be more valuable than simply on the field by being a mentor and by possibly recruiting players in the free agent class this offseason.

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…

Marlins extend Don Mattingly and Miguel Rojas

The Marlins announced the contract extensions of manager Don Mattingly and shortstop Miguel Rojas.

The Miami Marlins opened their final home series of the season with some encouraging news.

Mattingly’s extension runs through 2021 and includes a mutual option for 2022. He becomes the first MLB manager since Terry Collins to have losing records in his first four seasons with a team and return for a fifth season. The Mets went to the World Series in Collins’ fifth season at the helm.

“I think about his leadership, demeanor and overall character,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter on Mattingly. “He’s all in. He keeps our guys competing on a daily basis.”

Mattingly said he’s thrilled to have the opoprtunity to see this though. He’s seen the prospects first hand and has read the reports. His extension is a good sign that the minor league talent that has been brought in over the last two years is on the way soon.

“Hopefully by the time I’m done, this team is in a great place,” Mattingly said.

Rojas’ deal with Marlins is for $10.5M over 2 years and an option. Jeter called Rojas “the true example of a professional.”

“This front office has been transparent since last Spring Training. Derek and Bruce,” Rojas said. “They are always going to tell you the truth trom day one.”

Rojas has been with the Marlins since 2015 as a part of the Dee Gordon trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has grown from utility infielder to starting shortstop and team leader. When Mattingly was asked in July about who should be the Marlins All-Star, he chose Rojas for his leadership.

The Marlins should have about $25 million is coming off the books with Martin Prado’s contract expiring and Starlin Castro’s $1M buyout. That money should be spent on improving the team, especially the bullpen. While Jeter was non-committal on the issue, he did emphasize that he wants his top prospects to have a clear pathway to the big leagues.

“They’re coming and we don’t want to block their way,” Jeter said.

 

Christian Yelich out for the season with fracture knee

Christian Yelich will not be the Superman that took the Brewers to the NLCS in 2018 again this season.

The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Tuesday yet took a major hit in their playoff push.

National League MVP Christian Yellich fractured his knee on a foul ball in the fist inning and left the game. The Brewers announced that he will be out for the remainder of the season.

“We’ll fly him back to Milwaukee (Wednesday) for further testing,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said after the game. “We don’t have a definitive timeframe other than we know that he’ll be out for the remainder of the season right now. We also don’t know whether surgery is required. He’ll need further diagnostic imagining (Wednesday) in Milwaukee then meet with our doctors and we’ll plot a plan going forward.”

Yelich hit .329 with 44 home runs and 97 RBIs along with 30 stolen bases this season for a Brewers team that entered the game only two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wildcard spot. He led the majors in slugging percentage and OPS prior to the inury.

“We feel awful for Christian,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s the thing that resonates with me right now. He’s a special player and it’s a joy to watch him play every day. He’s the best at what he does. Not being able to see that every day is not good.”

What makes this extra tragic is the injury occurred at his original stomping grounds. Yellich’s career began in Miami and his last two years with the Marlins were Don Mattingly’s first two as manager.

“Obviously awful, we all know Yeli and what kind of guy he is,” Mattingly said. “You hate to see a player like that get hurt down the stretch. He’s stepped into the superstar realm as a player, and MVP last year. You don’t want to see that happen to a team down the stretch.”

The injury may be the difference between whether or not Yellich wins his second consecutive MVP. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger now has 2 1/2 weeks to improve on his 44 home runs, 106 RBI, 11 stolen bases, .306 batting average and 1.049 OPS.

The Miami Dolphins look like the worst team in local history

The Miami Dolphins haven’t been able to do much right in the past couple of decades.

But this tanking thing?

They’re naturals.

Sunday’s 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was so complete that the score is misleading. If Lamar Jackson had stayed in for the fourth quarter, the Ravens were headed to the 70s. As it was, this was the highest score by a Dolphins opponent in a regular season contest in the franchise’s increasingly ignominious history.

And here’s the thing: it can and will get worse.

The Dolphins — what’s wrong with Minkah Fitzpatrick — couldn’t handle the Ravens’ pedestrian receivers Sunday. Next Sunday? Tom Brady comes to town with Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman. And it’s not like there are lots of Dolphins young players with high upsides who will improve drastically as the season progresses.

So there’s a real chance this could be the worst non-expansion team in South Florida sports history.

Yes, the Miami Dolphins were 1-15 in 2007 under Cam “Thumbs This Way” Cameron.

But they were outscored on average only 27-17 per game.

The Panthers have been middling to bad for a while. But they’ve never been the equivalent of 1-15 or even 2-14 NFL bad.

So it’s just the 2007-08 Miami Heat (15-67 after Dwyane Wade and everyone else got hurt and the Heat raided the D-League roster) and the 1998 Florida Marlins (54-108 after H. Wayne Huizenga sold off a World Series winner).

But this?

This has the looks of something historic.

What will the Miami Dolphins do well this season? Throw? No. They can’t protect. Run? No. They can’t block. Tackle? That appears foreign to them. Cover? Ravens ran wild through the secondary.

And as it gets more and more hopeless, more veteran players will check out, interested only in their checks. More fans will stay home — tanking sounds better in principle than it feels in practice.

Prepare for the worst.

It’s what many of you wanted.

And the Dolphins will deliver.

 

 

Pablo Lopez Returns to Marlins

Prior to tonight’s game, the Marlins activated RHP Pablo Lopez from the 10-Day IL and optioned LHP Jose Quijada to Triple-A New Orleans. Lopez has been on the injured list since June 19th with a right shoulder strain. Tonight, he finally makes his return after more than two months out of Major League action.

Before being put on the injured list, Lopez accumulated a 5-5 record with a 4.23 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched. Those are not terrible numbers, in fact, he would have a sub-4 ERA if it weren’t for his disastrous start against the Mets back in May where he allowed 10 earned runs in three innings of work.

Pablo’s time rehabbing in the minors was definitely rough. In five games started, he has an 8.79 ERA and only 14.1 innings pitched. However, he did finish his time in the minors on a positive note. His last start, he logged six innings, allowing one earned run with five strikeouts.

Shoulder injuries are one of the toughest injuries to come back from. Pitchers have to get a feel for their pitches again and have to make sure their mechanics are in sync. It’s definitely a tedious journey but Pablo can definitely bounce back from this injury, he done it before.

In order to make room for Pablo on the roster, Jose Quijada had to be optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Quijada has been struggling lately at the Major League level. In his last seven games, he’s pitched five innings of relief and allowed 8 earned runs with 7 walks. His last appearance against the Phillies didn’t do him any favors. He pitched 0.2 innings, walked four and allowed two earned runs. He has good stuff, just needs to work on his control, like many young pitchers.

Let’s see if we see the same Pablo Lopez tonight who throws pitches like this… (via @IanPostPL)