March 8, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Austin Kearns (26) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Marlins: Spring Training Competition Updates


There are not a lot of open spots on the Miami Marlins this Spring Training. All the starting positions are essentially set. Emilio Bonifacio has the center field job all but locked down.

Starting Rotation

There are two ongoing competitions on the Marlins pitching staff. One involves Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano.

Feb 22, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Currently, Sanchez and Zambrano are locked into the Marlins rotation already. They are both competing for the number 4 starter title. I would say that Anibal Sanchez should hold a clear advantage in this race, but I also believed that he held the advantage for the 3 spot. That did not go the way I saw, Ozzie named Ricky Nolasco the number 3 starter at Fan Fest.

Sanchez has been slowed by shoulder soreness so far this Spring, but he returned to the mound earlier this week and is expected to be fine. I believe that Anibal Sanchez should win the Marlins number 4 rotation spot, but I have been wrong before.

Bullpen

Wade LeBlanc has stolen the show thus far in Spring Training and is looking like the early favorite to take the last remaining bullpen spot open.

Mar 5, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc (23) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. The Marlins defeated the Cardinals 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Here is a look at Wade LeBlanc’s numbers thus far in Spring Training.

LeBlanc G IP Hits ER BAA WHIP SO
Spring Training 3 10.1 1 0 .030 .10 9

No sane person knows that LeBlanc will post those type of numbers during the season. However, as a Marlins fan, there has to be hope that LeBlanc finds his niche as a long reliever with the Marlins in 2012, like Clay Hensley and Burke Badenhop in the past.

LeBlanc also hold an advantage that the Marlins may deem necessary with the last reliever they carry, ability to make spot starts. Last season the Marlins lack of starting pitching depth killed them. LeBlanc provides some security in that area.

It is not necessary for LeBlanc to continue to post these insane numbers the rest of the Spring in order to win a spot on the Marlins 25-man roster. It his spot to lose and unless he self implodes over the next two weeks, there is a great chance he will be a Marlin on opening day.

With the pitching rotation and bullpen all but set, lets take a look at the Marlins spring competition for batting.

Bench

Like I mentioned earlier, the Marlins have all but handed Bonifacio the starting center field job. This is to the dismay of most Marlins fans. It is very unlikely that Bonifacio is able to sustain his success from last season. I will talk about this more in detail in my center field preview for the Marlins to be posted later.

With the starting lineup all but set, lets take a look at the bench. Brett Hayes is going to be the Marlins backup catcher in 2012, that is already known. Greg Dobbs is going to be the Marlins backup first/third baseman. Although the team has not confirmed it yet, Donnie Murphy is likely to be the Marlins backup middle infielder. Murphy’s versatility will be very important to the Marlins as he can play every infield position.

Mar 13, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Donnie Murphy (22) throws out a Atlanta Braves base runner at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Outfield

That in my view leaves two spots open on the Marlins bench. With Bonifacio on the roster, in case of an injury, he would also be able to move to the infield. So I believe that the last two spots will belong to two outfielders. There are currently five outfielders competing for a spot on the Marlins roster.

The five players include left handed hitters Bryan Petersen, Scott Cousins, and former rookie of the year Chris Coghlan. As well as right handed journey men hitter Aaron Rowand and Austin Kearns.

With Dobbs already being a lefty off of the bench, the team will likely carry one right handed hitter and one left handed hitter. So I will break this competition into two different smaller competitions.

The competition between Rowand and Kearns seems to be a one-sided one currently. While Rowand holds the advantage of being on Ozzie Guillen’s 2005 Chicago White Sox championship team, his spring numbers are currently not looking too good.

Mar 13, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Aaron Rowand (33) makes a catch against the Atlanta Braves at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Rowand so far this spring is 1-for-22 this spring. He says he has never been a good spring training player.

My spring training averages throughout my career have been [lousy], Rowand said. It’s not like I’ve never been in this situation in spring training, where I’m not getting hits. I’ve had some of my best years when I’ve had really bad spring trainings.

Rowand sounds optimistic that his bad spring training will not hold him back from having a big season. But he also understands that the situation he is in right now does merit him to have a strong spring training to make the team.

“I’m in a situation where I understand the numbers do mean something,” he said.

Austin Kearns on the other hand is on fire this spring. Coming into play today, Kearns is 7-f0r-18 with 2 home runs. He is slugging .722 so far. He is likely winning the competition over Rowand at this point. Kearns defense is not as strong as Rowand’s, but the ability to carry the type of power he has off the bench is defiantly something that will intrigue the Marlins.

As for the competition for the left handed hitting outfielder, this one is a lot closer. Scott Cousins is just 5-for-21, but has shown some great plate discipline. Chris Coghlan has had just 9 at-bats, due to his knee, but does have 3 hits in this at-bats. Bryan Petersen is 6-for-20 and is probably the best fielding outfielder of the three.

For right now, this race is too close to call. Although I think the Marlins would be best suited by keeping Coghlan in the minors and having him play everyday.

I will open up a poll for you guys, assuming that the Marlins carry 2 outfielders, which of the two should the Marlins carry?

Which 2 of these 5 outfielder should make the team?

View Results

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Tags: Anibal Sanchez Austin Kearns Brett Hayes Bryan Petersen Burke Badenhop Carlos Zambrano Chris Coghlan Clay Hensley Donnie Murphy Emilio Bonifacio Greg Dobbs Miami Marlins Ricky Nolasco Scott Cousins Wade LeBlanc