Miami Marlins outfield prospect Christian Yelich has done nothing but hit all spring. He has impressed all, including rookie manager Mike Redmond. However, because of the timing rules regarding arbitration eligibility, Yelich has virtually no chance of being one of 25 on the Marlins' Opening Day roster.
Yelich hit a two-out, two-run home run on Monday to give Miami a spring training victory over the Boston Red Sox. He remains confident in his approach, though the front office is hesitant to promote him so soon in his young professional career.
"Just get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. Good things happen when you do that," Yelich said of his approach at the plate.
Despite his team-leading .375 batting average, Yelich is expected to be assigned to Double-A Jacksonville prior to the end of spring camp. Allowing Yelich to begin the year in the minor leagues gives him an additional year before he is eligible for arbitration and could become a free agent. Heading into a season where young talent will earn the majority of Miami's wins, the fact that the organization's second-best prospect has a slim chance of making the team has many scratching their heads.
The New York Mets were put in a similar spot this spring. Top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler is set to start the year in Triple-A. An additional year of eligibility was the Mets' primary motive.
Yelich, with his three spring home runs and 11 runs batted in, has still remained confident. He watched current second baseman Donovan Solano have a hot spring but fall short of making the team. Solano was called up following the Omar Infante trade, and Yelich has made enough of an impression that he could be called up before the end of the season.
"You feel like any situation he comes up he has a chance to do something," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's locked in. He's seeing the ball well. He's getting big hits. That's a tough conversation. I'm sure we'll have to talk about it. We want to make sure we do what's best for him and the organization. I think we've all seen guys who had great springs and struggle out of the shoot, too."