A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Monday:
▪ With seven weeks left in the season, we’re now going to be able to get a good gauge on three of the four players acquired in the Christian Yelich trade. But a wrist injury likely will keep us from seeing the fourth.
Outfielder Monte Harrison, who was in line for a September call-up before he got hurt and needed wrist surgery at the All-Star break, might not make it back for the completion of the New Orleans’ Babycakes season, which ends Sept. 2.
“His rehab is progressing,” Marlins president/baseball operations Michael Hill said. “He’s healing. Hopefully in the next week to 10 days, you will see him start swinging a bat. We may run out of season, but at least we know he’ll be healed and able to do instructional league and winter ball, whatever we want to do to make up his at bats that he missed last four to six weeks.”
Harrison made progress this season, hitting .284 with nine home runs but just 22 RBI in 50 games in his first exposure to Triple A. He also stole 20 bases in 21 attempts, walked 24 times (an improvement) and cut his strikeout rate from 36.9 percent to 30.3.
As for the three other pickups in that Yelich trade with Milwaukee, these final two months are vital.
Isan Diaz must hit decently for the Marlins to automatically assume he will be their second baseman next season, which is their hope and the plan. If Diaz struggles for two months, the Marlins will need a so-called backup plan for second base to cover themselves if Diaz has a poor spring training.
Lewis Brinson is realistically on his last chance to show he’s a big-league starter. If he hits well for two months, he will be in the big-league plans for 2020. And Yamamoto, who has cooled after a brilliant start, must convince the Marlins that he can be safely projected for the 2020 rotation.
▪ A couple items on those other position players in that Yelich trade:
1)Diaz is off to a .214 start in just 28 at-bats, but the sample size is obviously very small and the Marlins believe he will hit after watching him bat .305 at Triple A this season.
Incidentally, Diaz’s first big league home run - which happened while Fox Sports Florida’s Craig Minervini was interviewing his family - has made Diaz’s dad “more famous than me,” Diaz said Friday. “He can’t go out to eat” in Massachusetts without being mobbed. Carlos Correa and Yadier Molina were among All-Stars who acknowledged Diaz’s special moment on their Instagram accounts.
The conscientious Diaz has solicited input and advice from distinguished second basemen; Javier Baez and Robinson Cano told him how to prepare and how not to let failures affect him mentally.
2) Brinson is hitting .179 (5 for 28) with nine strikeouts since returning from Triple A, but there was one encouraging sign last week when he had a couple of hits to the opposite field.
“That’s something I have to master,” said Brinson, noting he worked on that a lot in New Orleans. “And mechanically, the major thing we worked on was standing tall, using my height to my advantage… I know I can hit here for a long time.”
Before Brinson went 1 for 13 in four games against Atlanta, Don Mattingly said: “You see him more confident, comfortable at the plate. You could see it start to build on him with the lack of success when he was here before. The signs from New York [against the Mets last week], hitting some balls the other way, hitting the right center gap, those are good signs for us. We’re not going to judge him quickly. Look at this as a new start. Let him play.”
Yamamoto, the fourth player acquired by the Marlins in the Yelich trade, is 4-3, with a 4.17 ERA in 10 starts for the Marlins. But he’s allowed five, six, four and four runs in his last four starts.
▪ The Marlins aren’t concerned about shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm’s .210 average in Double A, believing there are things the minor-league staff can fix at age 21 without sacrificing his power (20 homers, 48 RBI this year). He’s hitting .265 since the trade.
Internally, they believe they had enough quality pitching in their system to give them peace of mind in trading Zac Gallen to Arizona.
▪ Here’s how the Marlins viewed the Tampa Bay trade: They looked it as trading Nick Anderson for Ryan Stanek - which they viewed as an even swap with the belief Stanek has closer stuff.
Trading Trevor Richards (who likely wasn’t going to start here longterm) for top outfield prospect Jesus Sanchez was viewed as something of a no-brainer. Sanchez is hitting .266 with 12 homers and 62 RBI for three teams (AA and AAA) this season.
▪ The Marlins believe Stanek has the stuff to close.
“We’ve pretty much put him in the back end of the pen,” Mattingly said. “We think he’s got the stuff to pitch in the back end of the game. His stuff is excellent. He’s a guy that’s pitched in the back end before. He’s got a split, a slider, a different variety of pitches that work off each other.”
Stanek, who said he would love to be a closer, has 15 holds the past three seasons - while being used some as a starter or an “opener” - and is 0 for 1 in save chances.
Most impressively, he held batters to a .191 average last season and a .214 average this season for Tampa Bay before the trade.
Stanek has allowed three runs in his first 1 ⅔ innings as a Marlin.
▪ Hill said the Marlins won’t shut down top pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez (8-4, 2.61 at Jacksonville), Braxton Garrett (6-5, 3.24 at Jupiter) and Jordan Holloway (3-10, 5.05 at Jupiter) and Trevor Rodgers (5-8, 2.53 at Jupiter) before the minor league season ends in three weeks.
Garrett and Holloway have both made comebacks from Tommy John surgery.
“With Sixto it’s always been where you hold him back at the beginning so they get that sense of finishing a season and finishing a season strong,” Hill said. “Knock on wood, we’re at career innings with Sixto. But he’s thrown the ball consistently and taken the ball every fifth day and that was always the goal to get him through the year healthy. So far so good.”
▪ A bonus nugget: Outfielder Peyton Burdick, the Marlins’ third round pick in June, is going bananas in the minors; in 47 games at Class A Clinton, he’s hitting .319 with eight homers, 49 RBI and 18 doubles. He has three homers and seven RBI the past two days.
Here’s my Monday piece with a six-pack of notes on the Jarren Williams news at UM, and the reaction to it.
Here’s my Monday piece with insight on the Dolphins’ thinking regarding on trying to win.