Miami acquired Rob Brantly from Detroit and was confident they had found their catcher of the future. But Brantly has struggled defensively, and after balancing time between Triple-A New Orleans and the Marlins in 2013, Brantly had difficulty offensively in 2014.
As a result of Brantly's inability to become consistent, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro named Brantly a candidate to change positions this offseason.
When he was acquired from the Tigers in July of 2012, the book on Brantly was he could hit, but he needed work behind the plate. The defensive struggles remain, and he spent all of 2014 at Triple-A. Hoping to get the most of out Brantly offensively, the 25-year-old spent time in the instructional league, also getting work at first base and third base.
When he was with the Tigers, Brantly was known as one of Detroit's best prospects. Many Major League scouts believed he would develop into a solid hitter, but he has had a hard time getting into a rhythm behind the plate. Miami has given him several opportunities to win the starting catching job, however Brantly has been unable to capitalize.
In 2014, with New Orleans, Brantly posted a .255/.291/.341 batting line with four home runs and 38 RBIs. The Marlins likely Brantly's bat because he is a left-handed hitter, something the organization's lineup hasn't had many of over the last few seasons.
Although they are confident Brantly can get more mature at the plate, they are primarily concerned with his ability to handle a pitching staff on a daily basis. Miami has one of the youngest rotations in all of baseball, and Jeff Mathis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were successfully able to handle the staff last season.
Despite the fact that Jeff Mathis will likely remain the backup and Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been shaky at times, the Marlins may move forward with the pair, giving Brantly more time to develop.
Frisaro noted that the Marlins can try and turn Brantly into a corner infielder. Miami doesn't have much depth at first or third base, and the success of J.T. Realmuto may block any opportunity Brantly has moving forward.
Miami wasn't happy with the production of Garrett Jones at first base,and although they owe him $5 million next season, may be content moving on without him. Brantly, though, may not be consistent enough offensively to play a position with significant offensive expectations. The organization will likely consider moving Christian Yelich to first base or finding a way to add a first baseman via a trade or the free agent market, but having Brantly at first for depth may not hurt.
Defense could also become a concern if Brantly gives third base a try. After trading Colin Moran in July, Miami doesn't have many third base options, so having Brantly give third base a try may be beneficial.
The Marlins are confident Brantly's bat can develop, and that his defense can come around. But whether he remains a catcher or gives the infield a try, the Marlins will likely be patient with one of their better prospects.