In a parallel world, the Marlins have not lost their captain. I insist: in a parallel world, they will have Martīn Prado around to mentor the young kids coming up to the major leagues, teaching them with his words and showing his passion and dedication for the game.
But in our reality, they did lose Prado. On Sunday, with Miguel Rojas (Prado’s countryman) as the Fish’s one-day manager, the Venezuelan played his final game as a Marlin and, possibly, the last of his career. His closure with the organization as a ballplayer had an exclamation point, worthy of what “El Capitán” has meant to the team and his teammates. He ended up producing the Marlins’ winning run against the Phillies with the 100th home run of his 14-year tenure.
When Miggy Ro—his natural successor as the leader of the Marlins clubhouse—came out to substitute Prado, tears began to flow. Every Phillies player stood up in front of the dugout and the veteran was hugged by each of his teammates while trying to keep a straight face.
“The guy’s a gamer. He’s a leader in this clubhouse. He’s our captain and everybody looks up to him a lot,” Isan Díaz said recently to the Miami Herald. “Everyone sees how he is and how competitive he is whether he’s playing or not. He’s the same guy every day. When you see a guy like that, you kind of look up to him and you kind of want to be that.”
Prado might not be your typical legend. If you look at his numbers, you won’t see 3,000 hits, 1,000 runs batted in, nor 500 home runs. He wasn’t even an everyday player in these recent years, plagued by injuries since signing his latest Marlins contract. He averaged just 205 plate appearances per season since 2017.
But what has made him a role model is his leadership, his passion, his actions, and the ways he sees the game.
“I realized that sometimes there’s stuff that you cannot control. If you think too much about it, you’re just going to drive yourself crazy,” the captain said on Sunday. “So what I do is, whatever time I have to play, I do it with so much passion that even if I play one time a week, they see the passion that I have for that one time I play.”
Prado has been like that since the beginning. When nobody believed in him—and he began his engineering studies at Venezuela—surrendering was not an option. He was a late signing and had a pretty good career in the U.S. Determination has always been the key.
“I don’t go around and tell people ‘You gotta do this, you gotta do that.’ I just do my thing,” Prado said. “I don’t cross the line with anybody. I respect the game, and I respect guys who respect the game the same way I do.”
That same respect he gave to everybody was reciprocal, especially in the five years he spent as a Marlin.
At 35 years of age (he’ll be 36 on October 27), his love for the game of baseball remains intact. But there comes a time when every ballplayer sees himself in his late thirties and the clock starts to tick louder and louder. For Prado, that time has come. He wants to share time with his family and if an offer pops up, the decision would be taken not only by him but his entire family.
Sunday’s game might have been the final one for Martín as a member of the Fish, but he will remain as one of the nicest stories around the organization over the last decade thanks to his leadership and mentoring. Those intangibles deservedly earned him the title of “El Capitán.”