Barry Jackson

Here’s what’s most encouraging about the Miami Marlins through the first five games

Miami Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson reacts after scoring on a game winning RBI single by teammate shortstop Miguel Rojas during the 17th inning of Friday night’s win against the Cubs. Anderson has played well in the early stages of the season.
Miami Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson reacts after scoring on a game winning RBI single by teammate shortstop Miguel Rojas during the 17th inning of Friday night’s win against the Cubs. Anderson has played well in the early stages of the season.

A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Tuesday:

▪ One of the encouraging early developments has been the play of two key pieces of this young nucleus — outfielder Lewis Brinson and third baseman Brian Anderson.

Brinson, who’s hitting .280 with a .333 on-base average and has been excellent defensively, said it has helped him and other teammates that “we faced a lot of top tier pitchers in spring training.”

Anderson, who is hitting .333 with a home run and a .462 on-base average, gave a thoughtful and comprehensive assessment on hitting before Monday’s game, and it’s clear he has a sound approach — knowing “you have to aim for the alleys … in this ballpark” — and a diligence about preparation.

He has studied tape of a bunch of hitters — Mike Trout, Joey Votto and others.

The Marlins, foremost, need their core young position players to be productive on the field.

But they also want players who are responsible, grounded, meticulous about preparing and comport themselves maturely.

That seems to be the case with these two.

“Lewis has been a great kid, has a great attitude,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Has an ability to make adjustments. And that’s really what you want to see. If you’re going to have success at this level, you are going to have to make adjustments. They call Brian psycho; I wouldn’t call Lewis that.

“Brian is more comfortable [because] he’s played here last year, been in camp a couple years. He has always been a short swing guy with a good eye and all that helps get you better pitches to hit. You want guys that prepare, guys that are going to be competitive and guys that make adjustments. Both guys fit that bill.”

If Anderson continues to play well, the Marlins would face an interesting decision when Martin Prado returns from a knee injury. But Prado hasn’t begun running yet and remains out indefinitely.

Anderson can also play second base and shortstop but the Marlins in the past have said they believe third is his best position.

▪ The top two prospects acquired in the Marcell Ozuna trade with St. Louis — pitcher Sandy Alcantara and outfielder Magneuris Sierra — are both beginning the year in the minors, and here’s what Mattingly wants to see from both of them:

On Sierra, Mattingly said: “He knows what we want him to work on. Continue to work on his short game. All that speed. He’s got a great swing, he’s a good outfielder. Still some technique things we want to get ironed out and make sure he’s fundamentally sound. He’s got so much speed you want him to be able to bunt. Braxton Lee is more polished at it. Magneuris is not. That’s what we worked on all spring and we’ll continue to work on it.

“Sandy is more about getting to the point where we feel he’s totally polished to [where] he’s got his breaking ball exactly what he wants to do. You felt like he was still working on it in spring training. That’s a sign for us he’s not totally like, this is who I am, this is what you’re going to get. It was more like, still working on my delivery, still working on my breaking ball. He could have held his own [had he started the season in the big leagues]. His stuff is good enough to hold his own. It didn’t seem right [to keep him on the big-league team for now].”

▪ Once Sierra comes up, the Marlins at times could field a gifted defensive outfield with Cameron Maybin, Sierra and Brinson.

“You can envision an outfield with all center fielders at some point,” Mattingly said. “It’s nice to have, especially in our ballpark. It’s a bigger ballpark, you’ve got to cover some ground.”

▪ Left-hander Dillon Peters’ first start (six scoreless innings against the Cubs) was encouraging, and besides having better control (only one walk), another thing that’s helping is that he’s in better condition. One Marlins official told me during the offseason that he was way too heavy. That has changed.

“That’s one of the things we wanted to see,” Mattingly said. “He was in good shape in camp last year. With the thumb [injury], they didn’t allow him to do anything. That was a period of time he put some weight on. We didn’t think it was good for him. He’s in great shape right now. He’s able to throw a lot of breaking balls and slow a team down and the fastball gets bigger and the changeup, he started to throw that.”

▪ Why are the Marlins announcing purchased tickets as attendance, instead of tickets distributed, as past regimes did?

Because the Marlins say they want to be transparent and also have an accurate gauge of attendance when it eventually increases. It might subject them to ridicule nationally on nights they have crowds below 8000 or so, but it’s an honest approach.

Through five games, the average “paid” attendance is 15,829.

▪ Bruce Sherman, the Marlins’ control person with the biggest financial investment in the team, is based in Naples but has attended all five games. And players have noticed.

Miguel Rojas was impressed that Sherman stayed all 17 innings of the Cubs game last Friday.

“I’m pretty proud of Bruce that he was next to the dugout the whole game,” Rojas said. “He didn’t leave. He was watching every little play, every move. That was encouraging for me.”

▪ Fox Sports Florida hired former Marlins and UM first baseman Gaby Sanchez for a studio analyst role to work some games when Jeff Nelson is off.

Also, Marlins studio host Craig Minervini will handle play-by-play on 10 games, beginning with a late April series against the Phillies. New play-by-play man Paul Severino won’t be used on those games.

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