The hot corner has always been a spot that has been tough for the Marlins to fill Mike Lowell and Miguel Cabrera have been the two most consistent contributors at third base in their relatively short history, this being the Fish’s 21st season in the Major Leagues. The franchise has only two players that have given them more than 10 wins at third base, the aforementioned Cabrera and Lowell. Other notable players at third base for the Marlins include Hanley Ramirez (1/2 season), Jorge Cantu, Bobby Bonilla and Emilio Bonifacio with limited playing time there.
Matt Dominguez a player very highly rated out of high school and taken in the first round by the Marlins in the 2007 draft. He was particularly valued for his gold glove potential as one of the elite defenders at one of the most valuable defensive positions in the entire diamond. Baseball people were generally worried about his bat would develop and some of those worries were well founded. In a massive fit of absent-mindedness or lack of foresight by Beinfest-Hill et. al. The Marlins traded a highly rated young prospect, especially with the glove for the very last gasp of Carlos Lee‘s career. In 2013 Dominguez has been serviceable at the plate. Certainly better than what the Fish are currently putting there, Dominguez is slashing .238/.289/.417 with 9 home runs and and a .292 wOBA. Most impressive is his 4 defensive runs saved and UZR of 0.3 making him among the best defensive third baseman in baseball.
Matt Dominguez was a prospect that the Marlins were counting on the be the man at third base. Until that wasn’t the plan anymore. The Astros are seemingly more than happy to have him and he has shown to be at least “serviceable” and a better than replacement level player at a relatively deep position offensively. With Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria leading the pack in offensive categories there. But at at such an important position defensively Dominguez even at 23 years old shows how good of a defensive player he is and could will be in the future. Elite level defense at 3B can be enough to compensate for not being a great run creator.
The news that the Marlins took one of the most highly touted college 3B in the draft today, Colin Moran from the University of North Carolina, shows that the front office and the player development people knew the problem at the best way to fix it. Its probably not necessary to go into Moran’s scouting report and how much “upside” or how “high-of-a-ceiling” he has or to talk about his “body” or how “toolsy” he is. I’m not a scout or work in baseball development. I’m a fan and well informed one at that but I can’t tell you what any of those things really means. This article gives some insights into what kind of player Moran is. But what is even more marked for more is that in this past year against ACC pitching with the new “dead bats” his ISO was .209. And I don’t know how much weight to put to this but he had a BB:K of 60:22 in 2013 against ACC pitching. The most projectable features for hitters is power and plate discipline and Moran seems to have both in spades.
There is something else that is important to note about taking college position players is that their climb through the minor leagues is much easier especially for a kid like Moran that has already played and hit for average in the Cape Cod League and is familiar with wooden bats, which is often a tall hurdle for young players to overcome. Moran is a very seasoned 20 year old and has played a lot of ball and is projectable to be with the big club soon especially if he can get to High-A or AA by the end of this year.
It is very hard to know what will happen and that is a very bad feeling for a fan of a team that has struggled this year and probably will for the next few. I think that this kid has a future and will hopefully fill that black-hole that has been empty at 3B since the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers.