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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 beat Phillies

Marlins Beat Phillies 11-6, Take Opening Series

About 90 minutes before game time, a seismic rumble rolled through the Marlins clubhouse. Don Mattingly scratched Jose Urena from his scheduled start, and regular starters Harold Ramirez and Garrett Cooper were pulled as well. However, despite the uncertainty surrounding the club, the Marlins rallied to beat the Phillies, 11-6.

Miguel Rojas spurred the comeback, going 3-for-4 with a home run, triple, hit-by-pitch, three runs scored and four RBI. He fell a double shy of what would have been the first cycle for the Marlins franchise (4,306 games).

“It was a whole group of guys just relentless and not quitting,” said Rojas. “I’m so proud of the way we approached the day today. It was a weird day, a lot going on in the morning. This group of guys showed character.”

Rojas emphasized the team effort. “Everybody did their part to win the game.”

Marlins Bats Come Alive

The Marlins beat the Phillies thanks, in large part, to the bottom of the order. Rojas hit in the eight-hole. Isan Diaz (hitting seventh) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. He made solid contact in two of his other at-bats in addition to the hits.

Magneuris Sierra, who made the 30-man roster over the likes of Monte Harrison and some of the other outfield prospects, demonstrated his value as well. Sierra (hitting ninth) went 2-for-3 with two RBI, a double, triple and walk. He played a great centerfield.

Most think Sierra made the team because his out of minor league options, but he does sport game-changing speed. Sierra hit .350 in 15 game after a September 3rd call-up last season.

New additions Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar continued their hot start as Marlins. Dickerson went 2-for-5 with a towering home run in the sixth. He scored twice and drove in one. Aguilar hit his second homer of the season and finished 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored.

For the three game set, the Marlins hit five home runs, four doubles and two triples for 27 total hits and 17 runs.

Pitchers Played their Role

Robert Dugger made the surprise start in place of Urena. He learned about the change in the morning and called the moment “a shock. I had a little bit of time to mentally prepare. Everyone had confidence in me. You just got to adapt and be that guy for the team that day.”

Dugger surrendered a three-run home run to Bryce Harper in the first inning, but saw his teammates get all those runs back in the second. Dugger settled in to give up just one more run, ultimately going 3.1 innings.

Jordan Holloway, a 20th round pick for the Marlins in 2014, made his MLB debut. He walked his first batter but induced a deep fly ball out from Bryce Harper to register his first out. He gave up a pair of singles before coming out but did not surrender a run.

Holloway is the first pitcher to make the leap from Single-A since Jose Fernandez. He throws hard, working from 95-98 mph peaking at 100 with his fastball. In 2019, Holloway posted 93 strikeouts but 66 walks over 95 IP.

Seven pitchers went for Miami in this one. The Phillies managed baserunners often, but relievers only surrendered one run. Philadelphia loaded the bases in the fifth, six and eighth innings, but managed to push across just one run.

Walks continued to be an issue for the ‘pen, as they issued six free passes on the day. Luckily, none of the those walks came around to score for Philadelphia.

Marlins Beat Phillies Despite COVID Uncertainty

“It was a huge day for us,” Mattingly said. “Losing our starter, getting down four, the boys just bounced back. It would’ve been very easy to feel bad for yourself, so it’s was a big win from that standpoint.”

The Marlins changed their travel plans after the game and will stay in Philadelphia for the night. That decision is likely COVID-19 related, as the team awaits test results. Prior to the game Urena, Ramirez and Cooper were all pulled from the lineup, and while the team hasn’t confirmed this, several reports have surfaced that all three players have tested positive.

The Marlins already have Jorge Alfaro on the 10-day IL dealing with COVID related issues. Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce did not work out with the team during summer camp and remain on the IL. Brinson has returned to workouts in Jupiter, as has prospect Jazz Chisholm, who also had a bout with COVID.

The team will fly home tomorrow to face the Baltimore Orioles. Pablo Lopez is scheduled to start for the Marlins. Asher Wojciechowski should go for Baltimore.

Since the Marlins beat the Phillies 11-6, they won the three-game series 2-1. It’s the first time since 2014 the Marlins have won the opening series of the season.

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.

 

Hey now, who’s a Marlins All-Star?

The starting lineups have already been decided by the voting public but the rest of the All-Star rosters for the American League and National League will be announced on Sunday on ESPN.

The fans picked the starters. The players vote for the reserves. There are 24 remaining roster spots for the NL and 23 for the AL due to the designated hitter. The player ballot will fill 16/17 available spots and the Commissioner’s Office will fill the remainder, mainly to make sure each team has a representative.

The Marlins didn’t have a player voted among the finalist in any position. It’s likely that none of the Miami bats will be selected as an All-Star but it would be fitting if one of their remaining healthy starting pitchers were to get the nod.

Sandy Alcantara has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP and is the most likely candidate to be selected. His next start is at Washington on Wednesday and would be on schedule to pitch during the All-Star Game, should he be one. With a minimum of 80 innings pitched, there are 17 starting pitchers in the National League with a lower ERA than Alcantara. There are 40 starting pitchers with a lower WHIP including fellow Marlins starting pitcher Trevor Richards. 

Relievers have been chosen before and sometimes used as the one-team rep, even when they weren’t closers. Austin Brice has a 2.25 ERA and would be the dark horse candidate. Same goes for rookie Nick Anderson, who is tied for third among National League rookies in strikeouts. 

But if you were to ask Miami manager Don Mattingly who should the representing the Marlins in the All-Star Game, it would be shortstop Miguel Rojas.

“If you ask me to say who I’d say our guy is, if you are to say we have to take one, without dismissing anyone else, I think Miggy is a great representative for us,” Mattingly said.

His reasoning is that Rojas would fit the mold to represent the organization at the Midsummer Classic on July 9 at Cleveland.

“I think Miggy best represents our club,” Mattingly said. “He’s a guy who plays every day, battles every day. He can play all over the field. He really knows how to play.”

Rojas’ statistics doesn’t necessarily jump out. He’s slashing .287/.350/.706 with 23 RBIs but no home runs. He’s been one of the best shortstops in the month of June, hitting .348 with a .885 OPS.

He’s got the intangibles and can provide a quality at-bat no matter where he is slated in the lineup. Mattingly said he sees Rojas as an All-Star utility pick, since he could come in and play anywhere on the infield.

The rest of the Marlins hitters haven’t been on the field long enough to warrant All-Star consideration compared to rest of the league, which makes the announcement all the more suspenseful.

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:

Miguel Rojas: “Tenemos que jugar mejor en Marlins Park”

Miguel Rojas está muy contento por estar recibiendo la oportunidad que siempre soñó: ser el campocorto titular de un equipo de Grandes Ligas.

Este año, con los Marlins, el venezolano finalmente está cumpliendo su sueño por completo, al ser el titular indiscutible de la posición en una temporada de reconstrucción.

De hecho, Rojas se ha convertido en uno de los mejores campocortos de las Grandes Ligas. Antes, su gran defensiva pasaba por debajo de la mesa, pues se le veía en todas las posiciones del cuadro, gracias a su versatilidad.

Además, Rojas ha destacado en el plato este año. A pesar de no tener cuadrangulares, el campocorto de los Marlins es uno de los peloteros mas sobresalientes de la alineación, y se ha ganado a punta de batazos y buenos turnos el ser el primer bate del equipo.

Este año, Rojas promedia .276, con un promedio de embasado de .342, y 16 dobles, ya igualando el tope personal en su carrera, y va rumbo a su temporada mas sólida con el bate, si logra mantener el ritmo en lo que queda de campaña.

Su defensa siempre ha sido su mejor carta de presentación, y este año está metido entre los campocortos élite.

Miguel Rojas y su posible primer All Star

El campocorto de los Marlins podría ser el representante de Miami en el Juego de las Estrellas que se va a llevar a cabo en Cleveland.

Hace un mes, parecía claro que sería Caleb Smith el representante del equipo, pero con su lesión se ha abierto la posibilidad para peloteros como Rojas, Harold Ramírez, Garrett Cooper o el propio Sandy Alcántara.

¿Será Rojas el escogido?

Vea lo que dijo Don Mattingly sobre él esta misma semana.

Te invitamos a que escuches el EP 42 de Cinco Razones Podcast, en inglés, junto a Tony Capobianco y Michael Sonbeek (DutchBeek, el Pico Holandés), desde el propio Marlins Park