With many Marlins players battling to win the starting right field job in Miami, who might be on the outside looking in at the 26-man roster?
With two outfield spots already determined, which player will win the battle to start in right field?
It’s already determined that Jonathan Villar gets the nod in centerfield. Corey Dickerson, who was the team’s prize free-agent pick up this off-season, will be in left field. That means Mattingly must determine between seven contenders who have all the right to play on opening day.
If anything, it proves the Marlins front office did a really good job of acquiring talent over the past couple of seasons that has enabled the team to have such quality depth. You couldn’t say that in years past as the outfield was one of the weaker links to the baseball organization.
The belief is Matt Joyce has shown enough to at least become one of the platoon players at the position. He may play three or four days a week which means somebody else has to fill in when the veteran is on the bench. Based on what Mattingly has seen that during camp and Spring Training, it’s not an easy decision.
Monte Harrison, the team’s No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is still in
Major League camp. He has shown enough to warrant a chance to make the Opening Day roster but may still wind up at AAA Wichita based solely on numbers. If he is sent down to the minors, look for him to be the first prospect called up to The Show.
Magneuris Sierra has plenty of speed to burn. His bat is nothing special. He could become a table setter for Mattingly’s squad, but he can’t be counted on to produce at the plate consistently.
The problem with Sierra is he is out of options. He must make this team in camp or the Marlins may lose him to another ball club.
Matt Kemp was a non-roster invitee to camp. His experience in the outfield could prove valuable. He also has gotten reps at first base, which gives him a little more versatility and more of an opportunity to make the roster.
I like Kemp as a bench player if he’s able to return to his 2018 form. The problem is there are other youngsters who are competing just as hard if not harder which may force Mattingly to move in a different direction.
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I’m not sure what to make of Harold Ramirez based on the comments that Mattingly made prior to the halt of Spring Training. When asked about the outfielders performance so far in February and March, Mattingly made it a point to remind everybody that just because a player was on the roster last season doesn’t mean they’re going to be there this year.
While Ramirez hit 11 homeruns last year and does have some power, he may also be an odd man out. If not he’s definitely a fourth, fifth or sixth outfielder on this roster.
Garrett Cooper is another player who looks the part, but it’s not considered an every day player. Injuries have set him back the last two years. When he is in the lineup, Cooper looks like Paul Bunyan ready to swing for the fences. And if he could stay healthy, he could become a 30 to 35 home run hitter and reside in the cleanup spot in the batting order.
I would hate to see Cooper and Ramirez fighting it out for the final spot on the roster.
That brings us finally to Lewis Brinson, who we’ve discussed potentially more than any other player on the Marlins roster.
Brinson has had a good camp, and has shown more patience at the plate. His defense has never been a question. His speed in the outfield has been one of the first things the coaching staff has a lauded him for since he came over in the deal that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee three seasons ago.
With Brinson, the Marlins do you have one more option for him. Should he not make the roster initially, he could still go down to Wichita and wait to be called up because of inconsistency or a player injury. The problem is that last season he was sent down to work on his batting and didn’t get recalled until Sept 1.
Even with things in a holding pattern for the Marlins in terms of watching the remaining players in camp, these decisions can’t be far from Mattingly’s mind. When baseball does resume, he, the coaching staff, and the front office are going to have difficult choices to make.