Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 80 of 286. Stay tuned.
Denis Karas is a 5’11”, 180 lb. right-handed second and third baseman from Lafayette, California. A graduate of Campolino High, the alma mater of former major leaguers Paul Faries, Chip Hale, Aaron Poreda, and Jeff Stevens. Upon his graduation in 2014, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent their 24th round choice on Karas, but he wasn’t done with school.
Karas instead decided on playing Division I baseball for the California Golden Bears, for whom he would play three seasons. In 93 total contests, he slashed out a .262/.335/.490 line, with 17 round-trippers and 56 RBI. The detour would pay dividends, and in 2017 the Miami Marlins made him their 10th round choice, 299th overall. You can follow Karas on Twitter @denis1karas.
Other players selected with the 299th choice include Ted Sizemore (1966, Los Angeles Dodgers, 16.1 career WAR) and Tucker Barnhart (2009, Cincinnati Reds, 5.2 WAR). If Karas gets to the majors, he’ll be the ninth overall.
After signing with the Marlins for a $125,000 bonus, Karas reported to the GCL Marlins, in the Florida-based rookie-level Gulf Coast League. In 38 appearances, he hit 22-for-129, a .171 average with two homers and 15 RBI. He drew 14 walks and whiffed 42 times and stole three bases without getting caught. Defensively, he was awful at third base and pretty good at second, with fielding percentages of .908 and .988 respectively.
Despite Karas’ struggles at the plate, the Miami Marlins pushed him up a level with two weeks left in the 2017 season to the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League. He went four-for-37 in 11 games, with no extra base hits and four walks.
Karas remained with the Muckdogs for the better part of the 2018 campaign, getting into 55 games in total. He drew 19 walks and struck out 72 times in 218 plate appearances while slashing .223/.294/.316. Not a particularly good slash line, but better by far than his 2017 output. He also collected two homers and 30 RBI. Defensively, he again proved adept at second base and lacking at the hot corner, with fielding percentages of .960 and .939 respectively. Karas’ best game in 2018 was on July 31st, when he collected three singles and an RBI in a 4-1 victory against the State College Spikes.
To close the season, Karas played six games for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, in the single-A South Atlantic League. He went four-for-20 with a pair of walks. When the Miami Marlins signed a new development deal with the Clinton LumberKings, Karas was amongst the players to get moved to the Midwest League club.
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The Miami Marlins expect Karas to be a stopper at second base, and are trying to bring him along at third to build his versatility. That versatility will prove especially important if Karas can’t figure out the offensive part of the game in a more timely manner. If he gets off to a good start through the first two months of the season with the LumberKings, look for the Fish to send him to the Jupiter Hammerheads in the high-A Florida State League. If it’s not a good start, Karas could find himself looking for a new organization.
Of course, defense is the name of the game when scouting up the middle (CF, 2B, SS, C), and Karas can boast a RF/9 of 4.41 at second base. That’s not bad, and it’s probably worth it to work with Karas offensively to develop him into a better all around player. If he does start to make better progress, the soonest he would join the Miami Marlins looks to be around 2022.
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