If the Miami Marlins are going to play meaningful baseball in 2020, these three players will have to make a major move forward this season.
The last thing I want to do a sound like I am against the effort to Miami Marlins have put out this off-season, but the fact remains we haven’t seen this baseball team play games you have any meaning yet.
Regardless of what team CEO Derek Jeter, president of baseball operations Michael Hill or manager Don Mattingly has said over the course of the last four months, the Marlins are still a team that much prove to their improvements on the field when MLB resumes.
There are plenty of reports out regarding where games will be played. There is talk about the use of the designated hitter because of different divisional alignment. And new rivalries could be born all because of the COVID – 19 threat. If there is anything positive to come out of this pandemic, hopefully, it will be fans fill seats and cheer on the Marlins because baseball is back and better than ever.
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I suspect there is still plenty to plan with the 26-man roster, the bullpen, and a few positional battles all unsolved. Mattingly has his work cut out for him in a short amount of time. But we do know that there are a few players who surprise us all, whether it is here with the Marlins or amongst the 29 other professional teams in the league.
Here is a look at three players who should take a major step forward in 2020.
The prolific season at Triple-A New Orleans last season did not translate to Isan Diaz coming in and knocking the cover off the baseball with the Miami Marlins parent club. There were plenty of growing pains to be had. Diaz has a chance to become one of the best to play at second base in Marlins’ history.
Diaz only smacked five home runs in 170 at-bats. He hit a meager .173 at the plate. There is more than enough room for improvement this season. Look for bench coach James Rowson and hitting coach Eric Duncan to work closely with the 23-year-old this season.
If Garrett Cooper can stay healthy, he will be a better version of Justin Bour. In his second season in Miami, he hit 15 home runs, but could not stay healthy enough to help the Marlins win games with one swing of the bat.
This could all change for various reasons. Cooper is once again in a fight to win a starting role with the team, this time at first base. He could beat out newcomer Jesus Aguilar once the team returns to camp.
Cooper has such a fluid swing and plays hard in the field. With an injury-free season, he could once again reach double-digit home runs. At 6’6″ and 230 pounds, he is an imposing figure at the plate who can turn the tide of the game with one shot off the bat.
The first thing the Miami Marlins coaching staff noticed about Jorge Alfaro when he came to camp this spring is how in shape he looked compared to last season. Hopefully, that means the former Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer will show improvement across the board in 2020.
As a receiver, there must be an improvement behind the dish. As a hitter, he must crack the bat a bit more. The 18 home runs he hit were a career-high. He played in 130 games. The front office believes he can do better in his all-around game.
Because he was part of the trade involving J.T. Realmuto, Alfaro is always going to be compared to the best catcher in the game today. It might not be fair, but he must show more consistency and avoid injury this coming season in Miami.