Derek Dietrich is the Miami Marlins’ second baseman of the future. Or their third baseman of the future. Or a utility player. Or a juggler. Or just another rookie playing for the Marlins entirely too soon in this disaster of a season. It all depends on who you ask. Marlin Maniac ranked him as the Marlins 13th best prospect prior to the season.
Dietrich was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010 after tearing up college baseball at Georgia Tech. In his junior year prior to being drafted, Dietrich hit .350/.459/.650 with 17 home runs and was lauded as a potential first round pick. He fell to the second, and the Rays snapped him up as a shortstop. In the minors, Dietrich has been an incredibly consistent hitter. Between 2010 and 2012, he advanced through the minors, making stops at Low A, A, High A, and AA. His slash lines at each stop were .279/.340/.419, .277/.346/.502, .282/.343/.468, and .271/.324/.429. This past offseason, the Marlins acquired Dietrich in a straight up trade for Yunel Escobar, who has been atrocious at the plate for the Blue Jays this year.
It’s not hard to see the kind of hitter Dietrich is based on his slash lines. He won’t walk a ton, but he has above-average pop, enough so that the Marlins have been looking at him as a third baseman instead of playing him in the middle of the infield. In fact, in February, Larry Beinfest was quoted as saying that Dietrich “could be our future third baseman. We love him.”
There’s one catch – he can’t hit lefties. So far in AA this season, Dietrich was hitting .312/.448/.558 against righties, and .207/.281/.345 against lefties. Though this season’s discrepancy is particularly extreme, it’s hardly a new trend. Last season, his OPS against righties (.894) was 240 points higher than it was against lefties (.654).
Perhaps the coolest thing about Dietrich is that he’s a world-class juggler. He’s been juggling since he was 8 years old and has performed his act before over 10,000 fans at the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game. Here is a cool video of Dietrich demonstrating his juggling skills:
John Sickels at MinorLeagueBall.com noted of Dietrich that “he has enough sock in his bat to be a valuable hitter even if he’s hitting just .250. In the long run, he could end up as something like a left-handed Dan Uggla.” Given how badly the Marlins need offense – and a long-term solution at third base – a left-handed Uggla sounds great.