Spring Training 2014: Marlins position battle report, Week 1

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins have a few position battles of interest heading into the 2014 season. Two weeks into Spring Training, how much do we know about each battle?

The Miami Marlins started off the Spring Training season on a nice foot, having notched five wins and gotten a chance to see some of their young players in action. While most of the positions on the roster are firmly set, some of the team's options are open heading into 2014. We detailed some of the position battles we might see in Spring Training, and now that we about one week into games, let's see where everyone stands.

Center Field
Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Marcell Ozuna 13 .167 .231 .250
Jake Marisnick 10 .222 .300 .444

It's 13 and 10 plate appearances, and neither player has separated himself from the pack. In all honesty, this sort of anomaly is what happens in 10 plate appearances at any competitive level in baseball. But managers put a lot of thought into Spring Training, and they often make judgments on players that have a lot to do with outcomes and less to do with real process. Ozuna's early struggles may be nothing but random variation, and if Marisnick also continues to play erratically, I fully expect Miami to default to Ozuna.

But if the trend continues, Mike Redmond and the Marlins coaching staff may begin to see chinks in the armor of Ozuna's game. This is especially true if he continues to whiff a lot (five strikeouts) while Marisnick at least makes contact (one strikeout). Managers and coaches see strikeouts as a sign of potentially poor swing mechanics, and given that Marisnick is the better prospect, the team may simply turn to him if the gap increases and the strikeouts continue to flow for Ozuna. He does not have to hit lights out going forward to hold onto the job, but whiffing less would go a long way towards keeping the job.

Fourth/Fifth Starter
Player IP K BB ERA
Jacob Turner 2 2 1 4.50
Brian Flynn 2 1 1 9.00
Kevin Slowey 4 2/3 5 0 0.00
Brad Hand 2 2 0 4.50
Andrew Heaney 2 2 1 0.00
Adam Conley 2 2 1 0.00

The Marlins' pitching situation still hasn't changed after just one outing by all of the starters. It is, however, important to note that the Fish have used Kevin Slowey out of the bullpen, and he has had the most innings and been the most effective out of all of these pitchers. Slowey has five strikeouts to no walks and not given up a long ball yet, and that may leave him as a potentially useful player for Miami, even as a long reliever out of the pen. Last season, Slowey won the starting job over Turner when the latter struggled to find the strike zone, and it would not surprise me if Slowey took the fifth role from likely winner Brian Flynn either. Flynn needs to step his game up in order to hold the job.

I listed Andrew Heaney and Adam Conley, who have both worked out of the pen, as a potential dark horses. Both should get at least one start before likely being sent to Double- and Triple-A respectively, but the longer they can hold onto a Spring Training spot, the more impressive they will appear to the team.

Bullpen
Player IP K BB ERA
Arquimedes Caminero 3 3 1 3.00
Tom Koehler 3 2 1 3.00
Sam Dyson 2 2 0 9.00

If there is a final spot on the Marlins' bullpen available, there is a decent chance that Arquimedes Caminero, a Marlins top 20 prospect, will nab it. Caminero has some impressive stuff and an imposing mound presence (he stands 6'4" and 255 pounds), and the team has to like the fact that he has closer experience in the minors. If he is not in the bigs to start the year, it should only be a matter of time this season provided he continues to mow down minor leaguers (admittedly two years younger than him).

Koehler and Dyson earn consideration because they can pitch long relief if necessary for the team. Koehler is also a part of the race for the fifth spot after pitching over 140 innings for the Marlins last season. The remaining minor leaguers are either currently not impressing (Michael Brady, Grant Dayton) or still too green to send to the bigs (Colby Suggs, Nick Wittgren).

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