In the eyes of many, spring training does not mean much. It is just a time for players to get ready for the real competition. However, if early spring training is any indication, the Miami Marlins' 2013 campaign is going to be exactly what many feared it would turn out to be: A struggle.
It may be too early to be jumping to such conclusions. But just a few days in, Giancarlo Stanton had his helmet knocked off by a Jose Fernandez fastball in a simulated game, and Justin Ruggiano is having a bit of deja vu, as he is being bothered by the same back issues that kept him on the bench for the end of the 2012 season.
There is still plenty of time. Manager Mike Redmond and his staff are confident that the young talent the Marlins received from Toronto in return for half of their 2012 roster will produce. There was no question about whether or not the Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Nicolino-types of the world will produce. The concern is when they will produce.
Joe Rose pointed out early in the week that while the Marlins acquired many young and talented players in November, South Floridians "don't want to and don't deserve to wait". He called the organization the worst run in all of South Florida, but acknowledged that the Marlins "have a lot of competition".
Seats likely won't be hard to come by at Marlins Park following the winter fire sale, though wins will be.
The Marlins signed several veterans, such as Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, and Juan Pierre just to name a few, to lead a youthful team. How quickly the youth can mature will determine how many wins the Marlins end 2013 with.
Giancarlo Stanton's helmet and Justin Ruggiano's back both have plenty of time to heal. The Marlins should hope these instances weren't the baseball gods telling them they have no chance to be competitive a month and a half before the regular season is set to begin.
John Maine, who was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, is hoping to jump-start his career with the Marlins.
When the Marlins took Kyle Skipworth with the sixth overall pick of the 2008 draft, they certainly envisioned him as their starting catcher by 2013. Skipworth won't appear in the majors to start 2013, but hopes he can become a better hitter and then get called up.
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, acquired in the big trade with Toronto, has impressed the Marlins with his defensive skills. He may be a long-term solution at shortstop.
Don't expect Logan Morrison to be in the Opening Day lineup for the Marlins, but the first baseman hopes to be available sometime in April. Morrison is recovering from right knee surgery, and Thursday he began a rehab program where he ran on an anti-gravity treadmill.
Shortly after Mike Redmond was announced as the Marlins' manager in November, he received a congratulatory text message from someone with a similar background -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Matheny, now entering his second year as a big league skipper, took the initiative to contact Miami's new skipper, offering congratulations and any advice he could offer.
If you're expecting Adeiny Hechavarria to be the next Jose Reyes, you might be disappointed. All the 23-year-old -- who doesn't speak English -- is striving to become is the best player he can be. Based on pure talent, he has a chance to eventually make a name for himself.
Second baseman Donovan Solano will have every opportunity to make the team following a successful 2012 campaign. "I have a good opportunity in this camp," he said. "The deal is, I need to be the same guy."
Justin Ruggiano is being plagued by a back injury similar to the one he had last season. "I’d rather have it now than with two weeks left in spring training. At the same time, those backs can be touchy. Sometimes they just take a little bit of time. We’ve got to make sure that he’s healthy and ready to go for the long run, not just for spring training games," manager Mike Redmond said.
The Marlins have a lot of young prospects following the November trade with Toronto. "We gave up good players, but we got good young players in return. They're going to solidify our organization for a long time," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development.
Giancarlo Stanton is ok after being hit by prospect Jose Fernandez. "I wasn’t dizzy. I saw a little grayness, fuzziness on the outside of my eyes, but it is subsiding now," said Stanton, who had an ice pack on the back of his head before leaving for x-rays."
Around The League
Rafael Belliard will have to wait another week before he takes his post coaching at first base for the Tigers. That's fine with him. He'll wait. The surgery behind the wait, and the speed with which Belliard had it, saved his life.
The top of the Blue Jays' batting order has been somewhat of a black hole for almost a decade, but that is expected to change this year following the additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.
- O's closely tracking Bundy, Gausman | orioles.com: News
It's been widely speculated that top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman could reach the Major Leagues at some point this season. The pair of youngsters -- who are both in camp -- will be closely monitored this spring to ensure they will be options to the help the Orioles down the stretch.
- Nationals plan to push Strasburg later in spring | nationals.com: News
Manager Davey Johnson will ease Stephen Strasburg along early in the spring before accelerating his throwing program with 100 pitches on Opening Day in mind.
At Fish Stripes
The key component of the Miami Marlins - Toronto Blue Jays blockbuster, outfielder Jake Marisnick, comes in third on the Fish Stripes Top 20 Miami Marlins Prospects list.
The Miami Marlins are hoping a few of their young players will develop in 2013 into consistent contributors. But Nathan Eovaldi may not be the man who can deliver this development, as he has significant issues in his game that may not be fixable.
Andrew Heaney, the Miami Marlins' first-round draft pick in 2012 Amateur Draft, ranks fourth among the Fish Stripes Top 20 Miami Marlins Prospects list.
Fish Stripes ranks the top twenty prospects in the Miami Marlins organization, headlined by right-hander Jose Fernandez.
The Miami Marlins are going to rely on Adeiny Hechavarria as their shortstop for the near and distant future. The pessimistic view, however, asserts that the odds of Hechavarria develops at the plate enough to be useful are very low.