Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas will be counted on to lead this baseball team, not only on the diamond but in the clubhouse as well.
The Miami Marlins are off to a streaking start during the start of the Grapefruit League. Young stars are emerging. Younger pitchers are making a statement on the mound. And there is a real sense that the plan Derek Jeter and the front office envisioned even before the team was sold by Jeffrey Loria at the end of 2017 season is finally coming together.
There may not be a better time to become a Marlins fan than right now.
As the players arrived in Jupiter, Florida earlier this month, everybody was about smiles and handshakes and getting to know each other. But there was something missing. Martin Prado wasn’t there. A staple of this organization and one of the most respected men to ever sit in a Marlins clubhouse walked away from the game. The Marlins did not offer him a contract after the 2019 season, making him a free agent.
But there was still hope from fans like myself and others that may be, the captain of this team would make an appearance. We now know that hasn’t happened.
The Marlins have plenty of younger stars to build with, and have added veterans to provide pop at the plate and stability in the bullpen. But it is still a question as to who will fill Prado’s shoes as the undeniable leader in Miami.
For this reason, Miguel Rojas will need to take an even bigger role than he has in the past. He is without question the local hero who can provide continuity between the players who have been part of this organization on the major-league level, the players who will be rising to join the major-league team, and the veterans who have been sprinkled in this off-season to provide a winning formula.
It’s not an easy task, and with such responsibility comes a certain degree of pressure. Jeter, manager Don Mattingly, and Michael Hill, the team’s president of baseball operations, expect the Marlins to be better in 2020. Not by a small amount, rather making a significant leap based on what the team did this off-season.
While there has been much reported about Jazz Chisholm‘s infectious smile and his potential in the field and Monte Harrison’s ascension toward trying to win the centerfield spot in the outfield, not much has been made about Rojas and where he fits on this roster.
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The man who was given a contract extension last year because of the importance he has to this organization needs to prove his leadership may be more important than what he does with his swing. For now, he is penciled in as the teams opening day shortstop, but given what we’ve seen so far on the diamond, that may be short-lived.
If anything, what Miami has done to bring in top prospects has created solid competition at every level of the organization. That hasn’t happened in sometime. To say that Miami is going to be an afterthought this year, would be a major misstep.
Rojas, who will work with Isan Diaz at second base and offer advice to other prospects, could be one of the biggest factors in helping Miami reach the 75 when plateau in 2020. And if that should happen, Rojas could be the team’s most valuable player. Not based on anything he doesn’t plate, but for what he offers for stability, knowledge, and balance of a growing baseball organization.