After two seasons that he has had to deal with injuries, could this be the season J.T. Riddle puts it all together for the Miami Marlins?
Two seasons ago, I am sitting in the press box at a Miami Marlins Double-A game in Jacksonville, Florida when it was announced that infielder J.T. Riddle had been called up to “The Show” to join the parent club.
A smattering of applause could be heard from the sparse crowd as the team prepared for the night’s contest. Riddle, who showed promise is the team’s minor league system was getting the chance many rising stars dream of but never have the chance to fulfill that hope of playing in the Majors.
J.T. Riddle, a former University of Kentucky star and a player the Marlins selected in the 13th round of the MLB Draft is 2013, hopes this season is free of injury and the one where is becomes the team’s everyday shortstop. He does face a few obstacles to overcome if that is to happen. Miguel Rojas is also working toward the same goal of being the Opening Day shortstop.
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"As Wells Dusenbury of the Sun-Sentinel wrote, “After making his MLB debut in April 2017, his rookie season didn’t end the way he was hoping. Following a 70-game debut in which he slashed .250/.282/.355, the shortstop was shut down that August for season-ending shoulder surgery to repair his left labrum.”"
It’s not how he intended to make his debut, but things do happen. It has been a growing experience – one that now has him prepared for Spring Training and a position battle ahead. Like Rojas, his versatility in the infield and being able to play second base makes J.T. Riddle that much more valuable to this organization.
The lessons he learned from a grueling offseason in 2018 are still fresh in his mind.
"“It was definitely a mental grind,” Riddle said. “All I could do basically was rehab my shoulder. I couldn’t do any baseball activity. I couldn’t work out, really.“It was not a fun offseason.”"
Ironically, with all the changes to the Marlins organization and the current 25-man roster, Riddle is one of the most tenured players in South Florida.
How Riddle plays this season, where there is a chance he and Rojas are in the same lineup from time to time, could have an effect on the team’s decision concerning second baseman Starlin Castro and his future with the Marlins. Both Riddle and Rojas also have minor league stars moving up the team’s system, hoping to make an impact with the parent club sooner rather than later.
Helping Riddle and his chances of being an every-day player is the fact he is one of the few left-handed bats in the Marlins lineup. With more consistency at the plate, this could be his breakout season.