The Miami Marlins made a big splash in promoting top prospect Andrew Heaney from Triple-A. His debut last night was good, and it seems Miami will have at least an average pitcher going forward. Heaney has room to improve, and the Marlins' pitching staff should work on some of the deficiencies he showed in his first start.
But Heaney was not the only player who was promoted on Monday. The Marlins also brought up Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani to take on prominent roles for the Fish, and those players deserve a spotlight as well. How have they fared thus far in 2014?
Marisnick was brought up to replace Christian Yelich on the roster, as the second-year outfielder suffered a back strain and had to go on the disabled list. Yelich's performance this season has been excellent and as expected, so Marisnick was stepping into some big shoes. But given that he had just come off a roaring month of May in Triple-A New Orleans in which he hit .347/.389/.505 for the Zephyrs, he may have been prepared. Then again, he hit .182/.239/.273 in April, so he was a mixed bag.
So far in the majors, Marisnick has been a mixed bag as well. On the one hand, he is hitting .294 with a passable .333 OBP. On the other hand, those have all come on singles, and he has also struck out six times in 18 plate appearances. The plate discipline remains a major concern and is still his primary barrier to success in the big leagues. He did not resolve that problem in Triple-A, even as he had a dominant May; Marisnick walked just 10 times in 250 plate appearances before his promotion. and those rates were identical in April and May.
Still, he has added some speed to the roster, having stolen two bases already. He also adds above-average defense to the Marlins' already-strong defensive outfield. Last night, he showed evidence of that in chasing down this shallow popup and throwing out a runner for a double play. Marcell Ozuna was already an above-average center fielder for Miami, but having the faster and more athletically gifted Marisnick on board makes the Fish an even better defensive outfield.
DeSclafani was up for two starts earlier in the season, but was sent back down after the team signed Randy Wolf to replace Jose Fernandez in the rotation. But DeSclafani got a promotion from Double-A to Triple-A, and he took advantage of it. He struck out 21 batters in 21 2/3 innings and put up a 3.38 ERA and 3.82 FIP, numbers that looked marginally better than his Double-A performance this season. DeSclafani proved at least that he belonged in the higher levels, as well he should given that he was a three-year pitcher at the University of Florida (go Gators!)
He made a start on Tuesday for the Marlins and looked decent, striking out five batters in 6 1/3 innings and giving four runs in the process. Outside of the Junior Lake homer, things were looking generally good all start for DeSclafani, so Miami should be encouraged by his work thus far. There is still question as to whether or not he is throwing a slider or a curve, but based on movement and break numbers, the pitch appears to be a curve and it looks to be particularly useful. DeSclafani has not placed it for called strikes (2.2 balls to called strike ratio), but he is getting 37 percent of swings to whiff, so it looks like a solid out pitch. With its curveball movement, it can also be used versus lefties as well as righties; DeSclafani threw it in 20 percent of pitches against lefty batters.
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How likely are either of these guys to stick around long? Marisnick is a sure-fire option back to Triple-A when Christian Yelich returns from his injury, and from all accounts, the injury was at a severity level that did not really require disabled list time. Yelich should probably return as soon as he is eligible, meaning Marisnick's time in the big leagues should be short.
DeSclafani has a better shot at sticking around. Miami made the move to replace Jacob Turner in the rotation because they felt he was no longer cutting it as a starter, and rightfully so. DeSclafani was the top performer among the team's remaining pitching prospects, and he will get plenty of time to prove he belongs here in the big leagues. No other starter is significantly pushing him in the minors. Brian Flynn is the highest-level starter, and he has been mediocre in Triple-A. Brad Penny was just signed, but unless DeSclafani implodes, the Marlins are unlikely to use a roster spot on him. Adam Conley just returned from a bout of elbow problems, so he needs time to recuperate and rehab. Neither of the team's two remaining Double-A prospects, Justin Nicolino or Jose Urena, are ready for Major League play. DeSclafani could be in Miami for the long haul.