Why 2015 Could Be Do Or Die For Adeiny Hechavarria

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The Miami Marlins have made several massive strides this winter to move the franchise from fringe contender status to targeting an NL East division title and more. The thought of facing Mat Latos and Jose Fernandez in a short series in October, shouldn’t make anyone feel real comfortable about their chances. The team is also pursuing an upgrade at first base, and Justin Morneau could be the guy before spring training starts. The Marlins missed out on Chase Headley, losing him to the New York Yankees, but Casey MceGhee could be brought back to man the hot corner at a discount rate. But what about shortstop? Incumbent Adeiny Hechavarria, who is as solid as it gets with the leather, has to take the next step and show he can be more than a .270, no power and no speed guy for the Marlins.

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There was a time when all a team needed from it’s shortstop was solid leather, and the rest of the lineup would take care of the middle infield, who would generally hit in the lower-third of the batting order. Gone are the days of Ozzie Smith being the standard for what shortstops strive to be. Rather, shortstops MUST be able to bring it at the plate for teams that are going to contend. Guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada ushered in a new era of expectations for shortstop production, and the Marlins can ill-afford to go backwards by continuing to give Hechavarria a free pass at the plate. If Hechavarria was a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop, that might even fly while his bat still develops, but after two full seasons in the show, and part of a third season, is his bat going to mature or is he what is? A .270-something, no power and no speed middle infielder?

The Marlins appear to want solid production from every spot in the lineup. Why wouldn’t they? If 15 bombs wasn’t good enough from a first baseman for a few million dollars, there is no way Hechavarria’s production or lack thereof can go unnoticed. Adeiny might get one last chance this upcoming season to make the jump with the bat, because if the Marlins contend in 2015, and don’t reach the mountain top, there is a certain free agent shortstop who might like to take Jeffrey Loria’s dollars, and bring his talents to South Beach. That shortstop? Washington Nationals infielder Ian Desmond.

Looking at the Marlins top 20 prospects, the team has a young shortstop ranked #10 by MLB.com, 19-year-old Justin Twine. He’s still several years away, and his ETA is 2018. His bat is still developing, as he only hit .229 in 44 games at the Gulf Coast Level this past season. Twine is more of a speedster that is going to use his legs to get on base.

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So if the Marlins continue to see next to nothing in terms of offensive production from Hechavarria, they could go the trade route and upgrade at the trading deadline, or go big into free agency in 2016. Aside from Desmond, Alexei Ramirez could be hitting the market, as will recently dealt shortstop Jimmy Rollins. His leadership, championship pedigree and above-average offensive skills could be the final piece for the Fish, if they believe those ingredients are all that is missing from a title-run.

In 2015, it should be do or die for Adeiny Hechavarria. No more excuses, no more mediocre to below average production. This team is building for the present and for the future. They simply cannot allow a weak spot in the lineup become their undoing, when contention is something that isn’t familiar or regular territory for this franchise.

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