Miami Marlins Spring Training: Around-the-Diamond Preview

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 11: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins throws to first base to turn a double play around a sliding Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets in the seventh inning at Marlins Park on August 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 11: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins throws to first base to turn a double play around a sliding Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets in the seventh inning at Marlins Park on August 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 21: Brian Anderson #15 of the Miami Marlins doubles in the 10th inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on September 21, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

We already counted Brian Anderson as an outfielder, for a few compelling reasons. For our purposes, we’ll exclude him from today’s conversation, although it is likely he starts at the hot corner regardless.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 21: Starlin Castro #13 of the Miami Marlins singles in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on September 21, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Starlin Castro

Now entering his 10th major league season, it may surprise some to realize that Starlin Castro is still just 28-years-old. He turns 29 before the start of the 2019 regular season.

Castro has bashed 111 major league home runs through his career, over 1308 contests. A noted workhorse, he’s appeared in fewer than 134 games only once since his rookie season, averaging 145 per season overall. His .281/.321/.411 slashline was, for the most part, what he produced in his first Miami Marlins season last year, at .278/.329/.400. That is to say, we got exactly what was advertised when he joined the team.

The only onerous part of Castro’s association with the Marlins has been his pricetage. As fellow Marlin Maniac David Levin noted yesterday:

"Castro’s contract is a reason for concern for the front office as he is one of the highest players on the team. The 28-year-old is set to make $11 million this season and then $16 million in 2020 before he can test free agency. Given the Marlins desire to keep its payroll small and the hope the team can become an active player in the free agent market in 2020 or 2021, they cannot afford to keep him on the roster past this season."

Castro is not likely to be challenged for a starting spot in the lineup this Spring Training.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 11: Martin Prado #14 of the Miami Marlins reacts after being hit by a pitch from Corey Oswalt #55 of the New York Mets (not pictured) in the sixth inning at Marlins Park on August 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Martin Prado

Along with Curtis Granderson (37) and Sergio Romo (35), Martin Prado (35) represents the older generation of players on the Miami Marlins roster.

Injuries have taken their toll on the third baseman over the past two seasons, after he appeared in 153 games in 2016. Still roughly an average fielder at third base, Prado will be asked to also play at first base this season.

Prado has been limited to just 91 contests over the last two seasons, and has slashed well below his career line, with marks of .246/.284/.326. Regardless of this fact, Prado is guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Prado is well respected throughout baseball circles, and is expected to join the coaching ranks when his time as a baseball player comes to an end. In the meantime, having him in the lineup is like having a coach on the field and in the clubhouse.

Miami Marlins
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 24: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals slides into second base for a double in the first inning ahead of the throw to Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on September 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas has the most versatile glove in the Miami Marlins infield, and maybe in all of baseball. The only one of the four infield positions that he can be considered somewhat “below average” is at first base, and not by very much there. Of course, he’s best at shortstop, and pretty good also at third base.

Rojas isn’t any slouch at the plate, either. 2018 would see him nearly quadruple his career-home run totals (four prior to the season, 11 during the season for 15 overall). His 53 RBI was almost as much as his prior collected RBI total through his first four seasons of play. Despite that, his slashline remained nearly unchanged from his career marks of .255/.307/.337.

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly has stated that he isn’t looking to platoon Rojas at shortstop with JT Riddle, and instead is banking on one of them earning the position in Spring Training.

Miami Marlins
JUPITER, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 20: Neil Walker #18 of the Miami Marlins poses for a photo during photo days at Roger Dean Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Neil Walker

Neil Walker joins the Miami Marlins for the 2018 campaign with a major league contract, and will stick regardless of his Spring Training performance. That being said, look for him to take the next five weeks seriously in the lead-up to the regular season.

As I said about Walker previously,

"Walker, a switch-hitter, affords the Marlins added modularity in the lineup and in the infield. A natural second baseman, Walker also saw time last season at third base, right field, and left field for New York."

Miami Marlins
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 25: JT Riddle #10 of the Miami Marlins walks to the dugout before the start of the Marlins game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

JT Riddle

JT Riddle had a rough go of it in the leadup to the 2018 campaign, missing almost two months to begin the season with right-shoulder tendinitis.

Riddle will be in direct competition with Rojas for the starting job at shortstop, but both could be in the lineup at the same time in some spots.

"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. – David Levin, MM"

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