Non-roster invitees are one of the more intriguing aspects of spring training each year. They are often journeymen veterans, with no guaranteed contracts, aiming to impress and play their way onto a 40-man roster.
Hidden gems, who can provide invaluable depth down the stretch and become the difference makers in the playoff chase, can be found, and the Marlins may just have stumbled upon one in Tyler Moore.
A 30 year old first baseman and outfielder who hasn’t played at the major league level since appearing in 97 games for the Nationals in 2015, Moore has hit the cover off the ball over 40 at bats for Miami so far this spring, batting .275 and leading the team with five home runs.
To illustrate just how impressed the Marlins have been with Moore’s production since Spring Training began, the latest round of roster cuts, which included optioning six players to the minor leagues, has left Moore as one of only three non-roster invitees left with the big league club.
Despite only having 24 career home runs to his name over 601 major league at bats (which averages out to 14 homers over the course of a 162-game season), Moore has shown significant pop from the right-hand side of the plate during Grapefruit League play, which could pave the way for a possible platoon role with starter Justin Bour at first base.
Bour, a slugger who bats from the left, has struggled against left-handed pitching during his time with Miami (.233 average with zero home runs compared to .271 with 39 home runs against right-handers), and the organization is still undecided on whether he will face left-handed starters on a regular basis in 2017.
The team had the chance this winter to sign either Mark Reynolds or Chris Carter to shore up first base, but ultimately passed. Moore might have been what they were looking for all along, and adding him to the equation could significantly improve the production from the position overall.
The Marlins will need to maximize offensive production this season to even have a chance at finishing above .500 and battling for a playoff spot, and one glaring weakness with the lineup at the minute is Justin Bour’s lackluster performances against left-handed pitchers. However, Miami may have found a diamond in the rough in Tyler Moore, who could potentially alleviate this issue.
With Martin Prado unavailable for Opening Day, there is a spot up for grabs on the 25-man roster until he is fit. The Marlins should use this opportunity to experiment with a platoon at first base, and with the way Moore has been swinging the bat in Spring Training, they may be pleasantly surprised with the results.