LOS ANGELES -- Derek Dietrich said you can hear the chatter in the Jacksonville Suns clubhouse. Sooner or later, many of the Marlins’ top prospects know the phone call from the big leagues will come this season.
For Dietrich, a 23-year-old second baseman rated the franchise’s eighth-best prospect, that call came at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday. It was not only earlier than the front office was planning but even sooner than Dietrich was really expecting — and a product of a major-league-leading 12 players going on the disabled list less than 35 games into the season.
“I knew if I continued to compete and stay consistent every single day — whether it was Single A, Double A, Triple A, wherever I was playing — I’d have an opportunity to help out the Marlins at some point in the season,” said Dietrich, who was acquired in the offseason from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Yunel Escobar trade.
Like right fielder Marcell Ozuna, who was called up a week earlier, Dietrich spent most of last season playing in the Single A Florida State League.
“Way back in spring training one of my goals was to [make it here this year],” Dietrich said. “Now it’s to contribute and stay here.”
Whether that happens for Ozuna or Dietrich remains to be seen, but Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said the club is going to make sure both players get a good look.
“I don’t even know who is here anymore,” Beinfest said after the Marlins scored just one run during a three-game sweep earlier this week by the Padres in San Diego. “It’s been a bad run. It kind of started [the] first day of spring training when [catcher Jeff] Mathis broke his collarbone, and it hasn’t really stopped since. It’s been anything from hamstrings to whatever freak injuries — getting slid into. It’s been a little bit of everything.”
Game of survival
Beinfest said the Marlins, who open a three-game series Friday night against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, always intended to bring up their top prospects at some point later this season. But with the loss of two starting pitchers in Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi, two middle infielders in Chris Valaika and Donovan Solano, and All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, Friday night’s starter and top prospect Jose Fernandez, Dietrich and Ozuna were all pressed into duty earlier.
“I don’t know if it messes up the plan,” Beinfest said when asked if he’s concerned players are being brought up too early. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I don’t think anybody thought that Derek Dietrich would be here today, but eventually he was going to be here. Eventually, Ozuna was going to be here. Eventually, [outfielder Christian] Yelich will be here, [outfielder Jake] Marisnick will be here. [Pitcher Justin] Nicolino. Eventually, they’ll get here.
“But right now, we’re so buckled by the amount of injuries to key players we’re just trying to [survive]. I don’t know if we’ve taken a step back and asked if this is going to mess up the master plan. We’re trying to make sure [manager Mike Redmond] has 25 guys every day, which has been tough. He’s been short a lot. It’s been tough to keep up with it.”