The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate, will open the 2019 Southern League season on Thursday night at home.
Kevin Randel, the manager of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, told the media he was excited about coming back to Jacksonville to help the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate try and win a Southern League title starting Thursday against the Jackson Generals at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Jumbo Shrimp are a team built on solid pitching and speed on the basepads and in the outfield. The Shrimp, like the Marlins parent team, hope they can improve on their lack of success in 2018.
"“Getting back to Jacksonville is great,” Randel said. “Being in the Marlins organization is a great opportunity right now as a minor league baseball player. A lot of these guys need to take advantage of that, especially being at the Double-A level.”"
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Of the 25 members of the Jumbo Shrimp roster, 16 have ties to Jacksonville from the past. Nine of the 13 pitchers on the staff have pitched in North Florida before. This is another opportunity for Randel and his team to march forward and develop talent to move onto the next level in the Marlins minor league system with an eye for one day being on a Major League roster.
Looking at the rotation, the Jumbo Shrimp, like the Marlins current staff, will rely on depth of oung arms who are improving. Randel and his coaching staff will use a six-man rotation which features right-handed pitchers Robert Dugger, Jorge Guzman, Dustin Beggs, Jordan Yamamoto, and Cody Poteet along with left-hander McKenzie Mills.
Dugger, Yamamoto and Poteet got their feet wet in Jacksonville.
Speed will be the key to the success of this team with an outfield that features Brian Miller, the Marlins No, 14 prospect and Magneuris Sierra, who split time between the minors and the Marlins last year. As Miller told me and the media present, he believes this is the fastest outfield in minor league baseball, period.
Miller was part of the Jumbo Shrimp roster the second half of the 2018 season and hit .267 over that span.
The Jumbo Shrimp also have, according to Roger Hoover, the voice of the Jumbo Shrimp, the Marlins No. 23 prospect Joe Dunand at shortstop, and No. 24 prospect Bryson Brigman at second base. Both logged innings with Jacksonville in 2018, and Dunand is the nephew of 1994 Jacksonville Sun Alex Rodriguez.
No, I did not ask Dunand about Rodriguez’s impending nuptuals to Jennifer Lopez.
The one thing the Jumbo Shrimp, again like Miami, will search for is a power hitter in the middle of the lineup.