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2019 Marlins Season Preview: Merandy González

A key return piece from the AJ Ramos trade, Merandy González looks to improve on his rookie campaign.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Merandy González already feels like a player forgotten amongst all the young talent the Marlins have acquired since the purchase of the club by Bruce Sherman, Derek Jeter and their ownership group.

Unfortunately, the 23-year-old Dominican righty may be an example of a player rushed to the majors. He looks forward to a less chaotic season of development in 2019.

How did he get here? Traded from Mets to Marlins on July 28, 2017

2018 MiLB Stats: 4.32 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 47 K in 73.0 IP

2018 MLB Stats: 5.73 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 1.77 WHIP, 19 K in 22.0 IP

2019 ZiPS Projection: 5.16 ERA, 5.25 FIP, 1.63 WHIP, 70 K in 99.1 IP

Merandy was a part of the first wave of trades that pushed the Marlins towards building for the future. He and minor league outfielder Ricardo Céspedes were acquired from the New York Mets for then-closer AJ Ramos.

Since signing with the Mets in 2013 as an international free agent, the right-hander had been putting up great numbers. He posted a sub-3.00 earned run average in four of five seasons as a starter in the lower levels of the minors. Eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft following the 2017 campaign, the Marlins needed to protect him on their 40-man roster.

Merandy barely had time to get his feet wet at Double-A Jacksonville last season before getting called up to the major league level. Although all the movement may have been exciting (promoted on Apr. 19, Jun. 15 and Aug. 13), his inexperience and control led to struggles with both Jacksonville and Miami. Merandy posted career worsts in many categories in 2018.

Long term, the Marlins could consider moving Merandy González to the bullpen. He can simplify his approach to opposing batters with the one-two punch of a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and above-average curve. The club was already lacking in proven relievers, even more so after right-hander Nick Wittgren was designated for assignment on Tuesday. There will be opportunities to work high-leverage innings for the foreseeable future.

Going into his sophomore season, Merandy remains a young player with plenty of potential and talent to show for. Barring significant injuries to the pitching staff or a renaissance of a Spring Training, I would expect him to again begin the 2019 season at Double-A. There he can get the innings necessary to really work on being able to throw all of his pitches for strikes with consistency. Even with success, he should still move onto Triple-A New Orleans before the majors.

Merandy remains a member of the 40-man roster. Removing him to make room for a more polished arm is a risk because other MLB teams would have the opportunity to place a waiver claim on him. In an ideal scenario, his veteran teammates remain relatively healthy, allowing him time for a “normal” progression, eventually returning to Miami late in the summer once he’s truly ready.