Making the Opening Day roster is a very challenging task for any player; it is ten times more difficult for a non roster invitee. Each team brings to their spring training site everyone on their 40-man roster, as well as a handful of players given an opportunity to play their way onto the major league club. Spring training isn't only a showcase for opening day, but a tryout for players to potentially help out the big league team down the line.
The Marlins currently have only a couple open spots on their Opening Day roster, but things can change. They currently plan on having a four man bench, which could hurt the chances for a player like Tyler Moore to make the team but help the odds of Kyle Lobstein. Injuries will happen, players will underperform, and others will force their way onto the roster. It is impossible to predict how players will perform, but one thing is for sure. The odds for non-roster invitees are slim.
In this article we will explore all of the non-roster players the Marlins invited to spring training. Some have a defined path to making the team, others need to prove that they belong, and a few are there only to take up space.
Players with best chance to make team out of camp:
1. Kyle Lobstein, LHP
2016 Level(s): MLB (Pit), AAA;
MLB: 14 Games, 25 IP, 3.96 ERA, 12 BB, 15 SO
AAA: 20 Games/6 Starts, 51.1 IP, 4.03 ERA, 18 BB, 42 SO
Analysis: Lobstein is probably done as a starter. In 2015 he compiled a 5.94 ERA in eleven starts with the Tigers, as well as a 6.62 ERA in four starts at Triple-A Toledo. He was decent in a small bullpen role with the Pirates, where he held lefties to a 1.23 ERA. In his short big league career, Lobstein has an extreme platoon split; lefties hit .209/.295/.284 off him, righties hit .305/.363/.484. There may be a role for him as a LOOGY sometime in 2017.
2. Kelvin Marte, LHP
2016 Level(s): MLB (Pit), AAA;
MLB: 2 Games, 3.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 BB, 1 SO
AAA: 34 Games/4 Starts, 73.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, 21 BB, 57 SO
Analysis: Marte started the 2016 season in the Triple-A bullpen before injuries sprung him into the rotation. He held lefties to a 2.78 ERA before making his big league debut in September. Like Lobstein, he may be able to find a role in the Marlins bullpen as a left-handed specialist.
3. Caleb Thielbar, LHP
2016 Level(s): Independent (St. Paul Saints); 64 IP, 2.39 ERA, 15 BB, 56 SO
Analysis: After spending a season in Independent ball with the St. Paul Saints, Thielbar will look to recapture the success he had with the Minnesota Twins. In his 2013 rookie season, he compiled a 1.76 ERA in 46 innings. He followed up that strong debut with a 3.40 ERA in 47.2 innings in 2014. If he can recapture that success, there is no reason Thielbar can’t see some playing time in the Marlins bullpen this season.
4. Tyler Moore, 1B
2016 Level(s): AAA, Rookie; 110 AB, .227/.269/.382
Analysis: Moore spent four seasons as a bench contributor for the Nationals, before being traded to the Braves in 2016. He spent the entirety of the 2016 season struggling in the minor leagues. There is an outside chance that he can make the Marlins out of camp as a first base platoon partner for Justin Bour, but he is going to need to put up some staggering numbers for that to happen.
5. Matt Juengel, 3B
2016 Level(s): AAA, AA; 466 AB, .266/.322/.423
Analysis: Juengel is a player that has some tools that may help him see playing time in 2017. He is a right-handed gap hitter who can play both corner infield positions, as well as some corner outfield. The Marlins plan to start the season with Justin Bour playing everyday, including when they are facing lefties, but Juengel may be their best platoon option if they change their mind.
6. Brandon Barnes, OF
2016 Level(s): MLB (Col), AAA;
MLB: 100 AB, .220/.250/.320
AAA: 238 AB, .282/.323/.416
Analysis: Barnes has spent the past three seasons as a backup outfielder for the Rockies. He is a right-handed hitter with very little plate discipline. He is a defensive minded outfielder who can play all three positions. If any injuries occur in the Marlins outfield, the Marlins may roll with Barnes as their fourth outfielder.
7. Matt den Dekker, OF
2016 Level(s): MLB (Was), AAA;
MLB: 34 AB, .176/.282/.294
AAA: 372 AB, .207/.292/.315
Analysis: den Dekker has spent time in the big leagues over the past four seasons with the Mets and Nationals. He has faired decently as a pinch hitter, who can play all three outfield positions. After struggling mightily in 2016, he will need to hit better before being given another chance at the major league level.
Long shot to make team out of camp:
1. Scott Copeland, RHP
2016 Level(s): AAA; 9 Games/9 Starts, 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 17 BB, 33 SO
Analysis: Copeland made five appearances (three starts) with the Blue Jays in 2015 and put up an ugly 6.46 ERA. He has done fairly well against Triple-A competition, but he does not strike out batters. It is important to have rotation depth at Triple-A; Copeland is part of that depth.
2. Stephen Fife, RHP
2016 Level(s): AAA, Rookie; 10 Games/10 Starts, 35.1 IP, 4.58 ERA, 13 BB, 30 SO
Analysis: Fife is a 30 year old pitcher with previous big league experience with the Dodgers. He has yet to return to the big leagues after two decent stints in 2012 and 2013. He pitched to a 6.34 ERA in 2014, later that year underwent Tommy John surgery, and returned in 2016 to a 4.58 ERA. He is organizational depth.
3. Javy Guerra, RHP
2016 Level(s): MLB (LAA), AAA;
MLB: 7 Games, 6.1 IP, 5.68 ERA 7 BB, 4 SO
AAA: 43 Games/1 Start, 51.2 IP, 4.35 ERA, 57 SO, 31 BB
Analysis: Guerra has had major league success as a reliever, saving 30 games with the Dodgers from 2011 to 2012. He compiled a 2.91 ERA over 46.1 IP with the White Sox in 2014. Since then? Not too good. He dealt with a shoulder injury and a 50 game suspension in 2015, followed by a disastrous seven game stint with the Angels. Guerra could easily get another shot in the bullpen, but he won't be at the front of the line.
4. Nick Maronde, LHP
2016 Level(s): AAA, AA; 38 Games/2 Starts, 48 IP, 3.19 ERA, 14 BB, 39 SO
Analysis: Maronde has rotated between the rotation and bullpen. He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues with the Angels from 2012 to 2014 and didn't fair so well. He preformed better in Double-A (2.19 ERA) than Triple-A (4.24 ERA) in 2016. He's a fringe major leaguer.
5. Matt Tomshaw, LHP
2016 Level(s): AAA, AA, A (Adv); 24 Games/14 Starts, 92 IP, 3.23 ERA, 18 BB, 103 SO
Analysis: Tomshaw is another left-handed pitcher who can both start and pitch out of the bullpen. He compiled a 3.68 ERA at Double-A Jacksonville in 14 starts, followed by a 2.12 ERA in 17 bullpen appearances at Triple-A New Orleans. He is most likely below Lobstein and Marte in the AAA pecking order, but may be given a chance to start the season in the New Orleans rotation.
6. Ramon Cabrera, C
2016 Level(s): MLB (Cin), AAA;
MLB: 171 AB, .246/.279/.357
AAA: 54 AB, .259/.268/.278
Analysis: The only way that Cabrera will see playing time with the Marlins, is if two of J.T. Realmuto, A.J. Ellis, or Tomas Telis are placed on the disabled list. He isn't very good, but he's a serviceable backup catcher.
7. Ryan Jackson, SS
2016 Level(s): AAA; 290 AB, .248/350/.286
Analysis: Jackson is the prototypical light-hitting super utility player. He can play all infield positions and has even seen a little time in the outfield. Whether the Marlins need him will likely depend on a couple infield injuries.
8. Isaac Galloway, OF
2016 Level(s): AAA; 441 AB, .254/.312/.374
Analysis: Stole 31 bases in 129 games with Triple-A New Orleans last season. Could potentially give the Marlins a solid stolen base threat down the stretch.
9. Moises Sierra, OF
2016 Level(s): AA; 268 AB, .336/.414/.519
Analysis: Spent parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays and White Sox from 2012 to 2014. Performed very well after repeating Double-A in 2016. Will most likely get a chance to show this wasn't a fluke at Triple-A New Orleans. If he repeats his production from last year, we should take him more seriously.
1. Dillon Peters, LHP (#11 Marlins prospect according to MLB.com)
2016 Level(s): AA, A (Adv); 24 Games/24 Starts, 128.2 IP, 2.38 ERA, 20 BB, 105 SO
Analysis: Very solid numbers, let's see how he progresses. If he finishes the season with Triple-A New Orleans, he's on the right track. Needs to be added to the 40-man roster after the season, so he could debut in September.
2. Brian Anderson, 3B (#4 Marlins prospect according to MLB.com)
2016 Level(s): AA, A (Adv); 483 AB, .265/.348/.389
Analysis: He's mostly known for his fielding, but he put up decent numbers in 2016. The Marlins are probably hoping he can improve his power stroke if he is to be their third basemen of the future. Like Peters, Anderson needs to be added to the 40-man roster for 2018 to avoid being taken in the Rule 5 Draft, so a September debut would not be a surprise.
No chance at contributing in 2017:
1. Juan Benitez, RHP
2016 Level(s): Rookie; 12 Games/3 Starts, 32.1 IP, 6.96 ERA, 24 BB/36 SO
Analysis: Benitez is what those in the industry call a “camp arm.”
2. Chris Hoo, C
2016 Level(s): A (Adv); 233 AB, .210/.291/.262
Analysis: Needs to hit better if he wants any chance of advancing to Double-A.
3. Chris Maron, C
2016 Level(s): AA; 162 AB, .302/.392/.370
Analysis: Hitting over .300 in Double-A is impressive, but let's see him do it again in a larger sample size.
4. Carlos Paulino, C
2016 Level(s): AAA, AA; 109 AB, .229/.312/.275
Analysis: Needs to produce more on offense.
5. Rodrigo Vigil, C
2016 Level(s): A (Adv), A (Full), Rookie; 115 AB, .261/.303/.365
Analysis: Still a long way to go.