After a disappointing 2011 campaign(72-90) the Miami(Formerly Florida) Marlins added a new fiery skipper in Ozzie Guilen, 2 all stars(new closer Heath Bell and shortstop Jose Reyes) and 2 veteran starting pitchers(LH Mark Buehrle, RH Carlos Zambrano) to the team as the club prepares to kick off its first season in new spacious Marlins Park. This team has major upside as well as talent and should be a fun watch in 2012. Health as always is a major issue with a key being a healthy return of RHSP Josh Johnson. The 2010 NL ERA champion did not pitch after May 16th in 2011 but was 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in 9 starts. Lets focus on the two areas that will be drawing the most attention as camp starts(Pitchers and Catchers report by February 22nd, Full squad February 26th).
1- Hanley to 3rd- With the offseason signing of 2011 NL Batting champion Jose Reyes, the plan is to have veteran SS Hanley Ramirez move to 3b. The 6 year veteran and 3 time all star has had two injury plagued campaigns back to back but remains a favorite of Guillen. “Hanley is the biggest piece of the puzzle, and I’ve got to make it work. You are going to see a different guy on the field. I guarantee, when you see Hanley in spring training, he is going to have a smile.” A healthy and happy Hanley would provide 20 plus homers and steals with a 300+ batting average while turning a good team into a dynamic team. Something to ease the minds of Marlins fans: Star Shortstops such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriquez have made the transition from SS to Third base successfully. This move will be the monitored and discussed throughout the 2012 campaign.
2- Who is in Center?- This position is different than 3B where the club is moving a star who is being sub planted by another star. The Marlins have 2 options here with super utility man Emilio Bonifacio, who hit .296 with 40 steals in 2011, and Chris Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year in Left Field, who was the opening day CF in 2011 but saw an injury marred season end after 65 games. Coghlan had shoulder and elbow issues throughout 2011 while undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in November 2011 . He can play some 3b as well and would be a good player to carry on a National League club. Minor Leaguers Scott Cousins and Bryan Petersen are also candidates to make the club. After a strong 2011 campaign, this job is Bonifacio’s to lose.
Kevin Goldstein released his list of the top eleven Marlins prospects and there’s some potential stars at the top of the list. Number one on the list is Christian Yelich. The 2010 first round pick, Yelich raked at Low-A and he’ll move up the chain to High-A in 2012. He’s still a couple of years away but this could looks like a keeper in the outfield.
Number two is Jose Fernandez. They locked up their top pick in 2011 in time for him to pitch in a couple of games but we’ll get to see how he does at Greenboro in 2012. He’s a few years away but this guy has the potential to pitch in the middle of the Marlins rotation in the future.
Marcell Ozuna is number three and he’s another young outfielder. This guy brings a lot of power but he’s a couple of years away. J.T. Realmuto (C) and Chad James (LHP) round out the top five.
John Sickels posted his Miami Marlins Top 20 Prospects list and while there’s some optimism in Miami because all of the signings, but the farm system is thin right now with the top guy getting only a B+. Topping that list is outfielder Christian Yelich. This guy can rake and he’s a power/speed guy but Sickels talks about how he has a problem against left handed pitching. Number two is also an outfielder, Marcell Ozuna. He’s also a solid power/speed guy and he’s also good out in the field. It’ll be fun to see whether these two guys both make it into the Marlins outfield.
Number three is the top pitcher, Jose Fernandez and he’s the last of the straight B’s. He hasn’t pitched yet though and it’ll be interesting to see if he ends up in as a starter or as a reliever. Rounding out the top five is J.T. Realmuto (C) and Matt Dominguez (3b).
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