Spring Training 2014: Marlins position battle report, Week 2

Could Tom Koehler actually win the fifth starter spot in Miami? - Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins are still trying to decide on their roster as we enter the second week of Spring Training games. Who is in the lead in center field, the starting rotation, and the final bullpen spots?

Another week passes by in Spring Training for the Miami Marlns, and we get one week closer to knowing with whom the Marlins will look to start the season. The Fish have three positions that are under competition, some more than others, and the team will look to figure those out in the next two weeks, whether the players separate themselves or not. Will the brightest stars stand out from the pack, or is the competition too close to call right now? Let's check in on the races.

Center Field
PLAYER PA AVG OBP SLG
Marcell Ozuna 26 .143 .269 .238
Jake Marisnick 18 .313 .385 .500

I am not sure that we are at the point that the Marlins would move Marisnick ahead of Ozuna, especially without watching Ozuna's plate appearances with the careful eye that Mike Redmond and Frank Menechino are placing. But two weeks into the competition and one player has looked bad while the other has looked good, and no matter how much luck is involved in such a small sample, teams are going to put too much emphasis on this result.

The fact that Marisnick has struck out only twice so far is nice, but is by no means indicative of his having solved his significant strike zone recognition issues that plagued him last season. On the other side, 10 strikeouts in 26 plate appearances is an excellent way to get yourself looking like you have flawed swing mechanics. If the blip in Ozuna's radar were just on batted balls, it would be easier for the coaches to dismiss it, but with the strikeouts being so prominent, there is a good chance they will put a heavy emphasis on these results.

Ozuna remains safe for this week on the back of goodwill from last year and the more recent memory of Marisnick's struggles late last season. But another week of this sort of performance with no turnaround, combined with Marisnick continuing to display success (or good fortune), may put Ozuna behind in the race.

Fourth/Fifth Starter
PLAYER IP K BB ERA
Jacob Turner 4 1/3 2 2 6.23
Tom Koehler 7 6 1 1.29
Kevin Slowey 4 2/3 5 0 0.00
Brian Flynn 7 6 3 5.14
Brad Hand 7 9 2 1.29
Andrew Heaney 4 2/3 3 1 3.86

Turner holds the default fourth starter role, but do not underestimate his chances of losing the job if he continues to pitch poorly. His first two starts of this Spring Training season were not nearly as disastrous as his outings from last year, but the point remains that poor play will not earn him the starting job and may send him back to the minors.

This is especially true when you consider the two veterans behind him on the list. Both Tom Koehler and Kevin Slowey are out of options, meaning that Miami has to subject them to waivers if they are going to send either one back to Triple-A. At least one of the two would have made the roster anyway as a long reliever, and Slowey seemed prime for that spot as a veteran whose development is trivial for the Marlins. But with Koehler pitching so well so far, it makes the decision to put him in the final rotation spot easier, especially since he already occupied that role for much of last season.

That leaves prospect Brian Flynn in the dust. This year was supposed to be the season Miami gives Flynn a decent look to see what they have in him, but he is being outperformed in a very tiny sample by Koehler and Brad Hand. There is always a shot that Flynn gets bumped up if Turner continues to labor, but right now it appears to be an uphill climb for the Tigers trade acquisition and former Wichita State starter.

Hand is less likely than Koehler to win the job given Koehler's more extensive experience. Heaney would have to dominate to earn the job out of Spring Training, and that has simply not been the case. A strong Double-A performance should put him on track for a midseason debut if the team needs it.

Bullpen
PLAYER IP K BB ERA
Arquimedes Caminero 5 6 1 1.50
Kevin Slowey 4 2/3 5 0 0.00
Dan Jennings 4 3 1 0.00
Henry Rodriguez 2 3 1 4.50
Sam Dyson 3 2/3 3 2 4.91
Brad Hand 7 9 2 1.29

Mike Redmond may have not been effusive in praise for Carter Capps, but I cannot imagine the Marlins optioning such a promising reliever with effective numbers (home runs notwithstanding) last season over any of the above listed names. The only exception is Arquimedes Caminero, who continues to impress and has nothing left to prove as a 26-year-old prospect in the minors. He should open the season with a spot, but the Fish are loaded with righties with A.J. Ramos, Steve Cishek, Capps, and Carlos Marmol aboard.

Dan Jennings highlights the team's need for a lefty reliever, and since he did a passable job left season, he leads the way this year. But don't sleep on Hand, who is behind Koehler for the rotation job but might sneak ahead and compete for the lefty relief role that he probably better fits into.

Expect Kevin Slowey or Hand to get the long relief job given their strong performances. Slowey did not pitch this week, oddly enough, but that should not be taken as a sign of no confidence by the team.

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