The Miami Marlins are approaching a September that has little meaning left for the franchise. The Fish will finish up one of its most losing seasons in team history, and it will have nothing but the second pick of next year's draft to show for it.
Still, this year was always about developing players and new stars, and the Fish at least have one more month to try and do that. September is typically the month in which we see players close to the majors be given an opportunity to showcase themselves for next year, and the Marlins at least have a few players who could benefit from a "cup of coffee" in the big leagues before trying for the Major League roster in 2014. As we approach September 1, here is a look at five names who could see playing time with the Marlins in September ahead of a full-time promotion next year
Brian Flynn, SP
Flynn has quietly been having a fantastic season on the mound. He had just four starts in Double-A with a 1.57 ERA and 2.68 FIP before the Fish decided he was ready for Triple-A. Flynn did not disappoint there either, as he has put up solid numbers with a 2.80 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and a 21.4 percent strikeout rate. This is essentially even with his performance at every level of the minors since he was drafted in the seventh round of the draft in 2011 out of Wichita State.
Flynn is not on the 40-man roster just yet, but he appears to be next in line to start in the big leagues since he is the most promising starter at the highest developmental level. Furthermore, the Marlins have a need at starting pitcher in September, as Miami plans on sitting stud righty starter Jose Fernandez for his final starts of the season. There has also been talk, if necessary, of the team going to a six-man rotation. Either way, the franchise would need starting pitchers, and Flynn appears to be the most ready.
Brad Hand, SP
I know, Brad Hand is not very good, but at the very least, this season he has been solid for Triple-A New Orleans. Hand has put up a 3.68 ERA and 4.22 FIP in 74 1/3 innings down in the minors, and the team has apparently liked what they have seen despite Hand having spent the last few seasons' worth of sporadic big-league appearances looking terrible.
Hand is on the 40-man roster, which gives him an advantage over Flynn in terms of immediate deployment to the majors. And despite the new-ness of Flynn, Hand is only one month older than him. The problem is that only one of those two pitchers appears at all promising, and it seems like the throwaway pickup from the Detroit Tigers trade is more likely to be useful.
Derek Dietrich, 2B
There are legitimate questions about whether Dietrich has a significant future in Miami, since it was his complaint regarding former hitting coach Tino Martinez that triggered his eventual firing, against which owner Jeffrey Loria was. Dietrich has hit well since returning to Double-A, batting .251/.354/.509 with a once-again solid 10.0 percent walk rate.
The Marlins have Donovan Solano at second base at the moment, but the Fish would not mind trying out Dietrich at either second or third base given the struggles of both Ed Lucas and Placido Polanco. It would allow Dietrich to try out again at the big league level and see if he can earn a starting role next season or if he ends up in Triple-A. It also lets him develop some positional flexibility that would help his chances of making the team in 2014.
Zack Cox, 3B
Cox has done very little to earn a Major League role, and he too is not on the 40-man roster. But he plays third base, perhaps the team's worst position for some time. The Marlins are likely to try an in-house option at third base next year, and Cox should be among the competitors for the job,
The problem is that Cox lacks the improvement at the plate that the team would like to see. He is hitting just .267/.355/.368 (.337 wOBA) after repeating Double-A, and he just got back out to Triple-A just recently. Cox may not deserve the look at third, but due to relative positional necessity, the Marlins can't be too badly hurt by trying.