Now you all know I don’t care for Spring Training, especially when it comes to determining who should start or not. But that doesn’t mean the Marlins brass doesn’t care, so some decisions may be made based on Spring Training. I did some perusing through the various media outlets, particularly MLB.com, to find some info on how Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the staff feels about some of the players they are seeing in Spring Training. I talked about it a little bit in our latest issue of Heater Magazine, but here are some more in-depth notes of interest based on tiny sample sizes and Marlins management’s opinions.
It’s early, and I haven’t heard or read much about the battle for first base, but it looks as if Gaby Sanchez should have it wrapped up. I’ve heard that Logan Morrison, who is competing for the starting job, has looked lost at the plate so far, so I don’t think he’ll have much of a chance to make the team this season. This should help in making sure Logan goes back to the minors for a bit and perhaps returns midseason at earliest; after all, it would be the most prudent move economically for the Fish.
One thing to keep an eye on is, unfortunately, Emilio Bonifacio. Boni has racked up 20 PA so far and is hitting really well in the small sample, and you know how enamored Fredi and the rest of those guys are with his speed. I’m sure he’ll easily be able to continue hitting .368/.400/.737. Keep an eye out, and pray Gaby holds off Boni for the job.
The fifth starter spot is getting interesting. Andrew Miller was slated to start today, but there was a rain delay last I heard. If Miller does pitch soon and pitches poorly, don’t be surprised if the team yanks him from the fifth spot. Rick VandenHurk has pitched five scoreless innings of relief so far in ST and Fredi already said he’s slotting him for a start his next time out. Surprisingly, Hayden Penn may also still be in the mix. Penn has thrown five solid innings (I suppose, didn’t see them myself) and Fredi hasn’t ruled him out yet for the fifth slot. Penn is also the only player among these competitors that is out of options, but I doubt he’ll get it. If he doesn’t win the fifth spot, he might land in the pen, but I think they might give the nod to Hurk or Miller if neither makes the fifth spot. Penn is ultimately a fungible commodity.
You know who else looks good?
Clay Hensley. Hensley is a ground-balling minor league righty who apparently struck out five guys with with no walks in six inning so far. Now, this tells us nothing of course, but it may catch the Marlins’ brass’ eyes, which may not be too bad. Hensley isn’t much for the scouts, given his height (under six feet) and fastball (under 90 mph for a right-hander), which is why he’s been in the minors the past few seasons. He might still get a shot in the bigs with the Marlins’ pen if he keeps the ground ball rates up.