Forget the fact that the baseball season starts in just over a week. The Miami Marlins do not appear to be in a hurry.
Miami is set to begin the season in Washington D.C. against the 2012 NL East Champion Nationals, and that is a fact. Steven Strausburg and Ricky Nolasco will also square off the mound, which both teams have already announced. However, as expected, there are still several questions facing the Marlins. The squad has yet to choose a center fielder, and battles for rotation spots that were not thought to be open are still ongoing.
Recently, Marlin Maniac's Ehsan Kassim discussed the center field battle on the roster, and if major league teams used spring training performances and statistics to determine who would be playing each position when the season began, top prospect Christian Yelich would be the favorite to start the year in center field. Yelich has blasted five spring home runs, and has hit at clip just over .300. Manager Mike Redmond praised Yelich for his work, but the lefty outfielder apparently never had much of a chance to make the team because of his youth and contract status.
Yelich has never played above Single-A, and is expected to begin the year with Double-A Jacksonville. With his spring contribution, many believe he will be called up months before the season ends.
Had he not been out with a back injury, the starting center fielder job would have been Justin Ruggiano's to lose. After spending some time on the bench, former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan and Gorkys Hernandez both saw time in center, and have performed well.
Coghlan, who has been inconsistent the last several years because of different injuries, has had an impressive spring, and Hernandez, who won the Venezuela winter league batting title, could provide the speed necessary to man the position in spacious Marlins Park.
In terms of the pitching rotation, Jacob Turner has created opportunities for other starters in camp to earn a starting job. Despite pitching well after joining the Marlins for the second half of 2012, Turner has struggled throughout several of his spring training starts, and may begin the year in double or triple-A to regain command of his pitches.
Prospect Jose Fernandez is expected to make his major league debut at some point towards the end of the season, making Maine and Slowey the front-runners.
Heading into the final week of spring training, there is still plenty of uncertainty. The center field position appears to be up for grabs, and Jacob Turner has yet to prove that he could be consistent.