Miami Marlins: What we’ve learned ahead of Opening Day
By David Levin
The Miami Marlins MLB season is only a few days away and the roster is almost built. Will this be another surprising season in South Florida?
I don’t want to say that the process is complete, but it’s inching closer to fruition. For the Miami Marlins, this means that everything over the past three years, with the changes, heartbreak, destruction, growth, and perseverance, is coming to a pleasing resting place.
This doesn’t mean that the front office isn’t going to continue to make this team successful. Rather it means that everything that was talked about from the moment Derek Jeter took over as part-owner and CEO for this organization is coming along as planned.
The fans who have waited are the ones who will benefit the most from this passage in time. Miami’s opponents see a team being built from the foundation. And most of all, the work the front office is done with the president of baseball operations Michael Hill taking the charge in bringing a winning product to Miami very shortly is now a conversation on the MLB landscape.
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I really do believe there’s going to be winning baseball in Miami this season. I do believe the Marlins will make a push in 60 games to reach the playoffs.
I’ve been on this magic carpet ride for the past four seasons. I’ve seen devastation in starting over. And I have now seen how this group of players who are making up the roster this season are the ones who are going to lead this organization to success.
This past week we have seen developments that are making this team better. There is an identity that is forming. The coaching staff is getting the most out of players who will make up to 30-man roster.
Growth is for the good.
With less than a week until the opening of the 2020 MLB season, here are three things we have learned about the Miami Marlins.
Things change from Day to Day
Never is that more true than with the Miami Marlins starting rotation.
For the longest time, it was believed that Jordan Yamamoto would assume the role, being the fifth starter. But now, Elieser Hernandez has earned that spot and both Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert wind up in the bullpen to start the season.
It’s a tribute to how deep the Marlins pitching staff is and how prospects are going to keep this franchise thriving for years to come.
Sandy Alcantara will take the ball to start the season. Caleb Smith will be the second pitcher to go against Philadelphia. Jose Urena will take the mound as the third arm followed by Pablo López.
Youth is Served
Remember the Marlins will still be a fairly young team thanks to the play of prospects such as Monte Harrison, Lewin Diaz, and Jesus Sanchez.
Admittedly, I didn’t think either one of them had a shot to start on opening day. Harrison has been the talk of the team’s camp for two weeks. Diaz has shown great power swinging the bat. Sanchez was a steal when he was acquired from Tampa Bay last year. These are three sluggers to watch as the team builds for the future.
And because these three may be ahead of the curve to some degree, it means veterans who were once thought to be guaranteed to make this roster are now in jeopardy.
I don’t know if it changes part of the game plan that both manager Don Mattingly and Jeter had in mind to start the season, but it’s a good problem to have.
If these three players help the Miami Marlins inch toward a playoff berth this year, that is a better situation. If they don’t, at least the front office has a chance to see just how much progress they can make in a shorter season.
Brian Anderson is a keeper
And so is Jorge Alfaro. It appears two players who are going to impact the season at the plate and defensively have openly stated they want to be part of this team on a long term basis. When’s the last time you thought you would hear that in South Florida?
The Miami Marlins are blessed with the fact that they have young veteran talent that is buying into what is being done to build a winning culture for the future.
I have said this before, and now it really does have meaning. The team when Mattingly became manager of the Marlins was successful, but it was also made up of players who are individually talented. There was no cohesion. Now young players are seeing what Jeter has been doing and know there is a clear path to the possibility of World Series aspirations within five years.
Fans are finally seeing this as well. Through all of this rebuild, there’s going to be a team in Miami that MLB is going to take notice of.
Both Brian Anderson and Alfaro will be part of this growth process.