Can the progress of both Monte Harrison and Lewin Diaz have a direct impact on how the Marlins advance in 2020?
It’s not hard to understand why the Marlins front office is excited about the not too distant future as their minor league prospects made advances toward playing in the Majors. Two of those prospects, Monte Harrison and Lewin Diaz, could be part of the 26-man roster at some point in the early part of 2020.
Harrison is a candidate to win an outfield slot for Opening Day. The former Milwaukee Brewers farmhand showed he could change his approach at the plate and become a more effective hitter. Known for his size and power, it’s a good bet if he does make the Marlins 26, he could become an effective leadoff hitter because he also developed his base running while at Triple-A New Orleans last season.
"“Harrison followed up his breakout campaign with a forgettable 2018 season in Double-A in which he batted just .240 with a Minor League-leading 215 strikeouts (36.9 percent strikeout rate),” writes Mike Rosenbaum of MLB.com."
I had a chance to watch Harrison on many occasions while covering the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in 2018. His size alone was impressive, looking more like a college football tight end than a baseball player. There was no doubt he could hit the cover off the baseball, but his timing and his swing needed help.
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Rosenbaum wrote that’s what he did. And with time in the Arizona Fall League, he was able to spend more time at the plate, getting adjusted to power pitching.
"“He retooled his swing that offseason, taming his once-pronounced leg kick with the goal of making more contact and whiffing less, and subsequently made across-the-board gains at Triple-A in 2019, albeit while battling injuries,” Rosenbaum added. “Specifically, the 24-year-old trimmed his strikeout rate to 29.5 percent and walked at a 10 percent clip (up from 7.6 percent in ’18) en route to a .270 batting average and 74 strikeouts in 58 games.”"
Look for Harrison to get the first crack at the open centerfield spot in Spring Training. He is the Marlins No. 5 minor league prospect.
As for Diaz, the Marlins organization only saw what he could do on the field in the minors for a short time, but is resume built as he continued to swing the bat at a position the franchise needs desperate help.
"“Diaz quickly put his rocky 2018 Florida State League campaign (.224/.255/.344, 6 HR) behind him last season in his return to the level and had already advanced to Double-A when the Marlins acquired him from Minnesota in the July 13 Sergio Romo trade,” Rosenbaum explains."
The Marlins will most likely look to add a veteran bat in free agency or by trade, but it will not be for a long-term deal. The team’s No. 12 ranked prospect by MLB.com should start the season at Triple-A Wichita and could be on the team’s MLB roster by September when the rosters are expanded.
"“He ultimately batted .270/.321/.530 across the two levels, hitting 27 homers and 33 doubles in 121 games. The 23-year-old’s ability to hit the ball in the air was the difference, as his 40.9 percent fly-ball rate on BIP was nearly a nine percent improvement over his 2018 mark. Diaz also recorded a ridiculous .553 isolated power on FB+LD contact after posting a .274 ISO the previous year,” Rosenbaum wrote."