The Miami Marlins' outfield in Double-A Jacksonville was perhaps the most exciting thing left in the Marlins' minor league organization after the promotion of Jose Fernandez. The Double-A Jacksonville was going to be stacked talent-wise, and that talent was especially prevalent in the outfield. Three of the Marlins' top prospects were expected to start the year there, with Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Jake Marisnick forming a formidable trio both at the plate and roaming the outfield. Yelich was ranked second in the system by the experts at Fish Stripes, Marisnick was ranked third, and Ozuna was ranked fifth.
Now all three of those players are ranked injured, as the Marlins' three Double-A outfielders will begin the season on the disabled list, just as the season begins for the Jacksonville Suns. Yelich is dealing with what is being called a "stone bruise" that is also being reported as plantar fasciitis. Marisnick and Ozuna are both dealing with hand injuries, as Marisnick broke his hand during spring training and Ozuna broke his wrist. Of the three, Yelich is expected to return the earliest from his injury, with a chance to return at the end of April. From the MLB,com report:
"Going into Spring Training, we were calling it the Dream Team just because of the number of prospects that were there," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "Yelich is probably closer [to returning] than any of the three. He's coming along. He has a stone bruise on his heel. He's starting to swing the bat now. It probably won't be long for him. Marisnick is probably second in line."
Marisnick should be next, if only because he was injured the earliest during spring training. The Marlins will likely hold out Marisnick and Ozuna at least through all of April.
How will this affect their plans with these players? Christian Yelich is the most likely candidate for a promotion mid-season, but given the fact that the Marlins have filled out their outfield positions as of now, it is less likely that the team will need Yelich outside of injury. With one top prospect already up in the majors, the Fish could use some delaying of the service time clock to assist them with managing player costs. If there was a shot that Yelich could make it to the big league roster by June, it is much less likely with him missing almost a month of playing time in the minors.
For the other two players, this injury is less of a setback. Both Marisnick and Ozuna were not likely to make the big leagues this season because both are far more raw in talent. If either or both miss just a month of playing time, this will not get in the way of their development, but if problems persist with their hand injuries and they miss more time, this could hold them back from what should be a significant season in their path to the majors. This warrants a continued look, so keep an eye out on Fish Stripes for all of the details.