A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Thursday:
▪ The three high-end bats acquired by the Marlins in late July continue to show mostly promising signs in their first few weeks in the Marlins’ system, aside from one issue involving first baseman Lewin Diaz.
Diaz is hitting .196 in 15 games in Double A Jacksonville, with 19 strikeouts in 51 at bats. But that’s not a big concern, because 1) it’s a small sample size; 2) he has five homers and nine RBI in those 15 games, and 3) because Diaz had been hitting well at Double A Pensacola (.302, 6, 26 in 33 games) before Miami acquired him from the Twins.
“Lewin is off to a great start,” Marlins president/baseball operations Mike Hill said.
Meanwhile, outfielder Jesus Sanchez is hitting .302 with four homers and nine RBI in his first 11 games with Triple A New Orleans since being acquired from Tampa Bay. For the season, he’s hitting .267 with 13 homers and 63 RBI in 107 games across three teams in Double and Triple A.
Could Sanchez be a September call-up?
Hill wasn’t sure. “With Jesus, 21 years old, just getting his first taste of Triple A, having success, that’s always good to see,” Hill said. “We’ll decide what’s in his best interest with his development.”
And shortstop Jazz Chisholm has hit well in his first 12 games at Double A Jacksonville (.286, three homers, six RBI) after hitting .204 with 18 homers and 44 games in 89 games for Arizona’s Double A affiliate before the trade.
For the season, he’s hitting .213 with 21 homers and 50 RBI in 101 games, all in Double A.
The objective with Chisholm, over the final month of the season, is “just get him comfortable with how we operate with the organization, different routines, different approaches,” Hill said. “That’s really what we’ve focused on, giving him the way we do things in terms of our structure, our approach and let him get comfortable with being a Miami Marlin.”
The Marlins are encouraged by the early returns on all three.
“We had a little bit of a gap within our system, the upper level position players, especially left-handed power,” Hill said. “It’s nice to see those guys step into that Double [and Triple A] A clubs and hitting right in the middle of that lineup.”
▪ Hard-throwing Jorge Guzman, the Giancarlo Stanton trade pickup who won only one of his first 25 starts in the Marlins organization, recently had one of his best starts ever - six hitless shutout innings with 13 strikeouts (and four walks). He has 23 strikeouts and allowed just one run in his past 18 innings.
Overall, Guzman is 6-10 with a 3.62 ERA at Jacksonville, with 93 hits and 67 walks in 126 ⅔ innings, and 115 strikeouts.
Might the Marlins consider making him a closer, as some scouts have suggested? Not at this point, Hill said.
“With all of our young starters we want to give them every opportunity to start,” Hill said. “As they get closer to the major leagues you look at different things potentially. But as long as any of those guys are in the minor leagues and we feel like they are projected starters, we are going to give them starter innings and continue their development and growth as players.”
▪ Nick Neidert is back after missing extended time with a knee injury and has made nine starts - two in the Gulf Coast League, two in Jupiter and five in New Orleans (where he’s 3-2 with a 5.48 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings).
“We just want to get him innings and keep him pitching,” Hill said of the top prospect acquired in the Dee Gordon trade. “We will look for ways to do that. We want to get as many innings on him and explore ways to get him pitching beyond the end of the Triple-A season. That could be instructs [instructional league]. Could be winter ball.”
▪ It would seem unlikely, at this point, that the Marlins would flip more of their pitching depth for a hitting prospect after trading four pitchers for three hitters in late July. But Hill says there was no such edict, or conclusion drawn, during internal discussions.
“As we look at ways to improve our roster, everything will be fair game,” Hill said. “Everything is wide open and we’ll be looking for ways to improve going into 2020…. You feel you can part with a Zac Gallen because you have layers of starting pitching, and you feel like it’s going to help you not just in the immediate now but in the longterm.”
▪ The Marlins hope two of their five excellent shortstop prospects - Jose Devers and Osiris Johnson - can play this year.
“Jose Devers is picking up activity; we hope to see him on the field before the rookie league season is over,” Hill said. “Hoping to see Osiris Johnson as well.”
Devers, acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, hit .325 in 32 games at Jupiter this season but has been out since mid-May with a forearm strain. Johnson, the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2018, has missed all season after surgery for a right tibial stress fracture.
▪ Though Brian Anderson said earlier this year that the Marlins told him they see him as a third baseman longterm, the Marlins don’t want to make any such commitment publicly.
“I don’t think we’ll ever forego flexibility in the National League,” Hill said. “The ability for him to move around seamlessly and have Gold Glove defense in right and at third gives us flexibility. A lot of it will be impacted by the performance of our young outfielders. We don’t a lot of third base depth in the organization. We’re mindful of that as well.”