Marlins: What we have learned from the first half of 2019

There are 82 games in the books. There are 80 games left to go in the 2019 MLB season. What did we learn about the Miami Marlins?

The Major League Baseball season is halfway to the finish line. The Marlins, despite being 32-50 are better than last season, better than they were at the end of March.

The next 80 games could be really interesting.

As we here at Marlin Maniac prepare for the second half of the season, here are three things we have learned about this organization and the path it has chosen for its future.

The pitching is better than the starters’ record indicate them to be – Yes, the Miami Marlins have a boatload of pitching talent on the Major League level and there is still more to come in the minor league system.

Everything the Marlins front office did last season is predicated on its pitching staff throughout the minor league and the team’s parent roster being the foundation of the future. We all looked in amazement as veteran after veteran was traded away last offseason for prospects.

Those prospects will make the Marlins one of the most feared pitching staffs in baseball.  And because of their sudden success, the front office will once again look to make decisions about the future. I doubt seriously the starting five of Jose Urena, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Richards, Sandy Alcantara, and Caleb Smith is the together next season.

Urena would have been traded after the All-Star break if not for a herniated disc. Injuries have placed Lopez and Smith on the shelf temporarily. Jordan Yamamoto has been solid in four starts. Elieser Hernandez could be a starter or reliever on this staff. Zac Gallen has been a minor league phenom.

And there is more to come. This is a team being built in the right direction.

There is talent on this roster – Veteran Neil Walker told MLB.com that regardless of the team’s record, there is plenty of talented players here in Miami. Walker, who signed a one-year deal as the team’s starting first baseman, might be one of those players who is traded at the MLB Deadline.

“If the guys in here don’t understand how talented we really are, it’s very obvious to me as a veteran player,” Walker said. “You learn as time goes along, especially as young players, how to soften the big innings, and how to push the envelope when you need to. That happens naturally.”

There is plenty of belief the second half of 2019 will be better than the first. Miami is 22-19 in their last 40 games. This is a team that, should the tea leaves align, could still win 70-75 games. That would more than anyone predicted this season.

Miami was 13-14 in June after going 11-15 in May, 6-19 in April and 2-2 in March. Progression is what the front office wanted to see from this lineup.

“When you have a young club that’s building, you just want to see them get better all the time,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I’m not sure where our records are in April, May, and June, but I just feel like we’re getting better all the time.”

There are top prospects in the minors – Monte Harrison, Sixto Sanchez, and Isan Diaz were named to the Sirius XM Futures Game over All-Star Weekend. Two seasons ago, that would have even been thought of. The Marlins have built one of the better grapevines to the Majors in a short amount of time.

That doesn’t even include the array of talent the team acquired through the MLB Draft last month.

Both Gallen and Yamamoto have proven they can excel at the Major League level after starting 2019 in the minors. Harrison and Diaz will be late-season additions to the roster. Lewis Brinson, who started the season as the centerfield in Miami, is tearing up the Triple-A level.

Look for the Marlins to trade second baseman Starlin Castro at the deadline and possible find deals for Sergio Romo, Martin Prado, and Curtis Granderson. Youth has been served in South Florida. And the best part of that movement is it can come from all three levels of their feeder system.

Sanchez is the top prospect and he is still two years away from making it to Miami. Edward Cabrera is on the fast track. So might Cody Poteet, who vastly improving in Jacksonville on the Double-A level.

Next: The Marlins face tough pitching decisions