Fish Bites: Miami Marlins' scouting department earns praise

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

A recent New York Daily News Post quoted a source saying the Marlins are a "trendy" pick to be surprise contenders because of the job the scouting department has done this offseason. Plus links on Justin Nicolino and Derek Dietrich.

-Marlins Way: Keith Law Ranks Marlins Farm System 19th - Marlin Maniac - A Miami Marlins Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

On Monday, ESPN’s Keith Law unveiled his top 100 prospect list for the 2014 season. Andrew Heaney and Colin Moran were the two Marlins to crack the list. Heaney came in as the 34th best prospect and Moran came in as the 55th best prospect.

-Miami Marlins Season Preview: Second Base - Marlin Maniac - A Miami Marlins Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Last year the Marlins employed the services of Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich at second base, and the results were certainly less than desired. As a result, Miami went to the free agent market and signed slick-fielding Rafael Furcal. Furcal, a 13 year veteran, will make the position switch to the other side of second base in 2014. The move isn’t unprecedented for Furcal, he has played 36 career games at second base.

-Veteran 3B Wigginton signs with Marlins | www.palmbeachpost.com

hird baseman Ty Wigginton has signed a minor-league contract with the Miami Marlins and has been invited to their spring training camp. Wigginton, 36, was released by the St. Louis Cardinals in July after hitting .158 in 57 at-bats. He's a career .261 hitter with 169 home runs. Marlins third basemen totaled three homers and 44 RBIs in 2013, worst in the majors in both categories.

-Ruggiano signs $2 million deal with Cubs - Sun Sentinel

Chicago Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano signed a one-year, $2 million deal Wednesday, avoiding arbitration. Ruggiano, acquired from Miami in December for Brian Boguesvic, had filed for $2.45 million, while the Cubs countered at $1.6 million. The 31-year-old outfielder hit .222 with the Marlins in 2013, with a .298 on-base percentage.

-Miami's Derek Dietrich a sleeper candidate at third base | marlins.com: News

Heading into Spring Training, the Marlins' third-base situation is pretty much set. Casey McGehee, who impressed with his power and approach last year while playing in Japan, signed as a free agent in December to secure the hot corner. Miami is looking for increased production from the position, and McGehee could be a middle-of-the-order answer. Still, the Marlins are trying to build as much depth as possible.

-Marlins help renovate local high school field | marlins.com: News

Hialeah Gardens High School, the district champions in 2012, has a rich baseball history. Now, the Gladiators can boast about their first-rate field. When the high school baseball season opens in early February, the Gladiators will debut their field makeover. This winter, professional grounds-crew workers from more than 20 big league teams assisted in renovating Hialeah Gardens High School's baseball field as part of a Major League Baseball initiative.

-Marlins Inbox: When will left-handed prospects Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino get the call? | marlins.com: News

This will be one of the most asked questions in Spring Training. You may be aware that MLB.com ranks Heaney as the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect , while Nicolino is seventh on the list. Both were standouts at Double-A Jacksonville last year, and Heaney impressed in the Arizona Fall League.

-Miami Marlins trendy in scouting circles; Ike Davis really could earn job back for NY Mets; Humbug to prospect lists - Daily News

There is a fair amount of buzz in scouting circles about the Miami Marlins. One scout went so far as to call them a “trendy” pick to be surprise contenders this year. The belief is based on projecting that a young rotation led by Jose Fernandez will step forward (the staff is filled with the likes of talented but unproven pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner). Most scouts love leftfielder Christian Yelich, and approve of the signings of veterans Jarrod Saltalamacchia and, to a lesser extent, Rafael Furcal. And then there’s Mr. Beast, the player coveted by every other team, Giancarlo Stanton.

Around The League

-Phil Rogers: Remaining free agents would make for quality ballclub | MLB.com: News

The clock ticks loudly toward the start of Spring Training, but that hardly means rosters are set. For any of the 30 teams that have left themselves some spending room, there are good players still to be had. There are enough free agents available to fill out a 31st team -- not a bad one, either.

-Left-hander Bruce Chen, Royals working toward one-year contract | MLB.com: News

Scant hours after MLB.com reported Bruce Chen's chances of returning to the Royals looked good, the left-handed pitcher was headed back to Kansas City. Chen is believed to have agreed to a one-year contract with the Royals, although he has to undergo a physical examination before the deal becomes final.

-B.J. Upton hoping offseason work pays off at plate in 2014 | MLB.com: News

Once B.J. Upton concluded the 2013 season with a .184 average, nine home runs and a .557 OPS, he entered the offseason with the hope that the relaxed winter setting would allow him the opportunity to decompress and make the necessary adjustments.

-Astros' Mark Appel is taking his success in stride | MLB.com: News

It would be hard to blame Mark Appel if he felt more pressure than most, thanks to the club-record $6.35 million signing bonus he received after the Astros selected him first overall in 2013, but the 22-year-old is staying focused and taking his success in stride.

At Fish Stripes

-Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria relinquishing control - Fish Stripes

Believe it or not, but according to some sources, it seems as though Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is actually ceding front office control to his front office personnel

-Fish Bites: Predictions and Minor Signings - Fish Stripes

As we near February and the subsequent start to the 2014 Spring Training, this edition of Fish Stripes fills you in on the multiple predictions and minor moves centered around the Marlins.

-2014 Marlins Keys to Success: Nathan Eovaldi - Fish Stripes

Nathan Eovaldi returns to this spot again after being a key to success last year. He had a breakout campaign that included faster fastballs and similar other problems, and the Marlins would like to see how he develops again in 2014.

-Marlins show interest in reliever Nick Masset - Fish Stripes

As reported by Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal, the Marlins are in pursuit of former Reds reliever Nick Masset who's been out of the game for two seasons.

-Nathan Eovaldi: 2014 Marlins Pitch F/X scouting report - Fish Stripes

The Miami Marlins will look to Nathan Eovaldi to improve upon his work in 2013, in part because of his new and improved fastball. Are there other areas where he may get better this upcoming season?

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