With Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria on the disabled list, prospect J.T. Riddle received the opportunity to contribute and did so Sunday, fueling a walk off win over the Mets with a ninth-inning home run.
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The Marlins have been fond of Hechavarria’s defense since the club acquired him in the fire sale trade with the Blue Jays in 2012, and while he has proven he is capable of making plus plays defensively, Hechavarria’s offense hasn’t matched his defense.
Over 155 games last season, Hechavarria hit just .236 with three home runs and 38 RBIs. So if Riddle emerges as a threat offensively, could he receive an opportunity to start?
Riddle didn’t crack any top-20 Marlins prospect lists before the season, but rankings might not tell the complete story. He hit .278 with three home runs and 51 RBIs in Double-A last season and hit .268 over 15 Triple-A games. The numbers aren’t dominant but are notable.
Hechavarria reportedly declined Miami’s extension offer a few offseasons ago, which is the precise reason the conversation about the Marlins future at the shortstop position can be had. He is arbitration eligible until 2018 and will be a free agent in 2019.
Hechavarria had two productive seasons in 2014 and 2015 but has since been unable to replicate that success. As a result, Riddle now has an opportunity.
Even if Riddle produces, Hechavarria will serve as Miami’s starting shortstop in the immediate future. Though he isn’t a top prospect, Riddle has an opportunity to prove to the Marlins he at least deserves a chance.