Marlins’ new arrivals
Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2005, the Cuban-born shortstop had his share of difficulties before his tenure in Toronto. The Braves dumped their then-premium talent in 2010 to the Blue Jays, citing a poor attitude.
A fresh start in Toronto gave Escobar two solid seasons before his performance topped out at barely mediocre in 2012. He posted a .253 average, drawing a career-low 35 walks and striking out 70 times. On the other hand, when his defensive game is on, Escobar has a flashy glove that turned 100 double plays.
Escobar, 30, was suspended for three games in September for having gay slurs in Spanish written into his eye black.
Escobar brings a Marlins-friendly contract worth $5 million in 2013 and team options for 2014 and 2015.
The Marlins acquired 23-year-old Cuban-born Hechavarria, who was signed to a massive four-year deal with Toronto as an amateur free agent in 2010 worth $10 million.
The highly touted prospect made his major-league debut in August at third base (where he had never played professionally) in the absence of Brett Lawrie. Hechavarria also played second base for eight games alongside Escobar.
The experiment might have been a glimpse for the Marlins 2013 defensive alignment up the middle. Hechavarria finished 2012 with a .254 averaged, striking out 32 times in 41 games.
The 5-11 infielder, whose best position is shortstop, has not always been praised for his bat despite big numbers in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. But his jaw-dropping glove work makes up for anything his offense might lack.
Marisnick, a 6-4 outfielder, has every tool in the box, including uncanny speed for his size. It doesn’t hurt that he has a positive approach to his development, and was working on his preparedness at the plate at Arizona Fall League.
Hitting coach Jon Nunnally (of the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats) said Marisnick could be a major-league position player tomorrow, and will be a major threat when his bat catches up to his other skills.
Marisnick, the No. 2 prospect in the Toronto organization, hit .249 in 2012 with Dunedin and New Hampshire with 24 stolen bases. Toronto also sent him to the Arizona Fall League so he could face top-tier minor-league pitching.
There should be no rush to move him from Double A to the majors, but fans should anticipate a potent outfield where Giancarlo Stanton anchors top prospects Christian Yelich and Marisnick.
Just three months after signing a two-year, $3 million extension with the Blue Jays with a team option for 2015, the veteran catcher is being shipped south.
His calling card is defense, where he has just two errors in 473 chances in 2012.
Mathis is by no means an offensive weapon. Minor tweaks with Blue Jays’ hitting coach Dwayne Murphy allowed him to make the most of his time at the plate through 71 games; the 29-year-old boasted a career-high average of .218 with nine home runs.
That ‘high’ average comes with a bonus. If the Marlins find themselves in a pitching-pinch, Mathis hurled two innings for the Blue Jays in 2012.
Drafted in the second round of the 2010 Draft out of high school, Justin Nicolino has been on a fast track since beginning his professional career in 2011. The left-hander dominated short-season ball in Vancouver, striking out 54 in 52 1/3 innings and 1.03 ERA.
The Florida followed up that season with a 10-4 record in Lansing (Mich.) in 2012.
Alvarez already has 41 major-league starts on his resume, but he’s still a work in progress.
Alvarez tried to use his diving slider nearly twice as much in 2012, decreasing the use of his changeup and fastball.
He finished the season with a 4.85 ERA, but struggled with his command. Striking out fewer batters per nine innings and walked nearly twice as many batters per nine innings.
The ground-ball pitcher didn’t benefit from the sometimes spotty defense of the middle infield in Toronto. Certainly his repertoire has been challenged as he continues to refine his pitches. It’s worthy to note that Alvarez went straight from Double A to the majors.
Another import with Florida ties, DeSclafani signed with the Blue Jays in the sixth round of the 2011 Draft. Sclafani skipped his senior year with the Florida Gators to enter the draft and finished his college career with a 5.36 ERA, with 115 strikeouts in 149.1 innings, mainly in relief.
When drafted, scouts felt the right-hander’s strong arm and mid-90’s fastball was well-suited to relief. Primarily used as a starter by Class A Lansing, 22-year-old DeSclafani went 11-3 with a 3.37 ERA in his debut season.
Much like his Lugnuts teammate and fellow new Justin Nicolino, DeSclafani offered up nearly a strikeout per inning, and allowed only three home runs in 123 innings pitched.