With Miami Marlins' second baseman Rafael Furcal beginning the season on the disabled list and suffering a pair of setbacks, Derek Dietrich has seen consistent time in the Marlins' lineup. And after being acquired from Tampa Bay before last season, Dietrich has added necessary power to the Marlins' lineup.
While he had hit in five straight heading into Sunday afternoon's game against the Giants, Dietrich's ability to both get on base consistently and hit the long ball has helped one of baseball's worst lineups turn things around.
Dietrich is batting just .247, but is gettng on base at a .346 clip and has driven in 14 runs. He has appeared at various spots throughout the lineup, but appears to be most comfortable hitting in the two hole behind Christian Yelich.
The 24-year-old launched a third-inning pitch from Yusmeiro Petit into the right-field seats, giving him homers in consecutive games for the first time in his career. But the developing second baseman, who also hit a solo shot Thursday, said he hasn't been trying to hit the ball out of AT&T Park.
"Just trying to have quality at-bats," Dietrich said. "Anytime I'm hitting in front of [Giancarlo] Stanton, my main goal is try and get on base for the big man and put a good swing on it. Just nice easy swings and trying to be on time for every pitch."
Protection for Giancarlo Stanton was an offseason goal for the Marlins, and with Casey McGehee among the National League leaders with runners in scoring position and the early power showing of Dietrich, the offensive additions appear to be helping Miami's right fielder.
Defense was a challenge for Dietrich to begin the year, but after working with Perry Hill, has no longer been an issue.
All of Dietrich's five home runs have come against right-handed pitching, and he has seen limited action against lefties. Dietrich's power and consistent ability to work counts have helped the Marlins' improved offense support of of baseball's youngest pitching staffs.
"I think what you're seeing is a guy who's made adjustments from last year to this year," Redmond said. "He's able to recognize offspeed pitches better, his at-bats are better. He'll still get up there and be aggressive at times, overaggressive maybe, but that's part of being a young player in the big leagues. He brings a lot to this team. He's got a chance to hit some home runs and play some solid defense."