With the Super Bowl over, it is full speed to spring training for the Miami Marlins. For today’s preview, we will take a look at an exciting young player that the Marlins have high expectations for, Christian Yelich. Yelich is capable of playing any outfield position, but figures to be predominately in left field for the Fish.
Yelich made his Major League debut last year for Miami and certainly showed glimpses of just how good he can be. He played 62 games last year and posted a slash line of .288/.370/.396. The slugging percentage could be a bit higher, but remember that Yelich is only 22 years old and is still developing some of his power. He doesn’t project to quite reach 30 home runs in a season, but it is certainly conceivable that he could hit 20-25 home runs a season within a few years.
The stat that jumps out for me is definitely his OBP. For him to reach base at a .370 clip in his first year is very impressive. That number alone will slot Yelich at either the leadoff or number 2 spot in the lineup this year. I believe he has the plate discipline necessary to approach a .400 OBP, although that will not be this year.
The Marlins’ fans need to patient with Yelich in 2014. This will be his first full 162 game schedule at the big league level, and the grind will wear on him at times. Consistency will be his biggest struggle. If he is able to duplicate his numbers from last year across the full season, it will be an immensely successful campaign for him.
Yelich is a potential future all-star that in many organizations would still be in the minor leagues. Due to the lack of talent in Miami, they have been forced to pull some of the younger players up quicker than many organizations would, which allows them to get repetitions against the best in the game. The potential negative to this scenario is a lack of confidence or frustration that can develop for these players if they struggle early in their career. Many of them have never really struggled at any level of baseball in their lives. People respond differently to struggles and in my opinion, younger players are not always mentally equipped to handle the stress that accompanies inevitable slumps that occur in the major leagues.
Look for Yelich to continue to grow this season and excite the fan base. Even though he has too many at-bats to qualify as a rookie this year, we need to view him as we would a rookie with the same expectations. If we do, we will surely be surprised at how talented Yelich is.