Now that Spring Training baseball games are back and the Miami Marlins will be in action this weekend, here are three things to watch for on the diamond.
Spring Training baseball games are back for the Miami Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball.
Hallelujah! Baseball is back for the Marlins, a team looking to continue on a path toward success later, rather than sooner, with talent still developing and a belief this could be an organization that contends for a playoff berth in two seasons.
It might not make baseball fans in South Florida, happy, but give Derek Jeter and his staff credit for sticking to a gameplan and blueprint that has so far proved to be working. It might be slight, but it’s showing progress.
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Sandy Alcantara will take the ball as he faces his old team, the St. Louis Cardinals later today. The No 5 prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline, is expected to win the No. 3 spot in the rotation if he can improve his control and his consistency on the mound.
There is no doubt Alcantara, who was traded the to Marlins last offseason, can throw heat. It’s where he can remain in control of his pitches over the course of a game.
Alcantara’s trip to the mound is just one story to follow this weekend. Here are three others to watch when the first pitch is thrown at 1:05 this afternoon.
New faces on the field – There are 68 players in camp for the Marlins this season. Who will stand out and surprise manager Don Mattingly and the front office? Which player will make an unexpected impact?
I am curious to see the connection between pitchers and Jorge Alfaro, who was part of the deal that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia. He is now charged with helping to shape a young rotation and a suspect bullpen.
Alfaro is not the hitter Realmuto was, but he can provide leadership behind the dish.
Where will the power come from? – Mattingly and his coaching staff will rely on key hitting and moving runners into scoring position. The lack of a true slugger in the lineup concerns me, as it has all offseason.
Peter O’Brien is being counted on to add some much needed pop at the plate. Monte Harrison is a slugger who is still a year away from making the Major League roster. Can Neil Walker approach 20 home runs and will Brian Anderson show he can hit the ball consistently in two halves of a season?
The player to watch is Lewis Brinson, who is on the bubble to win a starting spot in the outfield. After a dismal 2018, he needs to have a strong Spring. Brinson has 25-30 home run potential, but work on finding the right groove in his swing to make that happen.
Is there a surprise in the rotation? – Alcantara was regarded as the top pitcher in the minor league system last season, but has fallen to third, behind newly acquired Sixto Sanchez and Nick Neidert, who was the team’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season.
Sanchez will open at Double-A Jacksonville. Neidert has an outside shot at leapfrogging several arms to make the Opening Day rotation.
I think for the moment, Alcantara is a lock to make the rotation, but five other arms will compete for two spots. It’s a good problem for the Marlins to have this early in camp.