Point to Prove
Batting over .300 and crushing 26 home runs at Triple-A as a 23-year-old will get people talking about you. So will slashing .179/.259/.307 during your first stint at the major league level as a Top 100 prospect, but not for the right reasons. That was the case in 2019 for second baseman Isan Díaz who—despite the lack of a current alternative on the roster—has the mindset that he will have to beat out the competition and earn the right to start or the Marlins on Opening Day next season. That determination and competitiveness should prove to be an asset to the Marlins, and he may just prove himself to be a building block if the can make the necessary adjustments. It is worth noting that Díaz has always struggled during his first taste of playing at a higher level before adapting and thriving. The Marlins will be hoping that trend continues.
The Marlins may have only won 57 games this past season—the second fewest in team history—but the team battled hard every time they took to the field, and there were plenty of reasons to cheer over the course of the season. When Miami did win, they often did so in style, creating some of the most memorable moments of 2019.
Back on Course
It is no secret that the Marlins have a talented minor league pipeline that is improving every day. Bolstered by trade deadline acquisitions and a strong 2019 draft class, Miami has one of the top farm systems in baseball. Two prospects in particular boosted their stock by enjoying bounce-back seasons. After leading the minors with 215 strikeouts in 2018, Monte Harrison refined his swing and increased his contact rate significantly, resulting in a solid .270 average at Triple-A despite his season being interrupted by injuries. Struggling in High-A last season didn't deter first baseman Lewin Diaz, who reached Double-A in 2019 and tapped into his power potential by hitting 27 homers; eight of those coming after being traded from the Twins to the Marlins in July. With these two players in the system, the Marlins offense looks to have a bright future.
Happy Trails, Wei-Yin Chen
As expected, no team traded for veteran Wei-Yin Chen before he cleared waivers, and the Taiwanese pitcher was released by the Marlins earlier in the week even though he is still owed $22 million. The most expensive free agent pitcher in franchise history will go down as a huge bust, as he went 13-19 with a 5.10 ERA over four, injury-plagued seasons. Signed as a number two starter in 2016, Chen never reached the modest heights that he achieved with the Orioles. He ended up in the bullpen in 2019 in a well-documented failed experiment. Hopefully this case does not put-off the front office from making significant free agent signings in the future.
Former top prospect Greg Bird has officially become a free agent after being DFA'd by the Yankees last week and then clearing waivers. As discussed here on Fish Stripes, the first baseman could be a target for the Marlins given his prior work with both new hitting coach James Rowson and Gary Denbo and the success he enjoyed in the minor leagues before numerous injuries stalled his development.
Former Marlin Justin Bour looks set to sign with Japan's Hanshin Tigers for next season. After being traded to the Phillies last August, Bour became a free agent and signed with the Angels, but spent the majority of 2019 at Triple-A. In 200 major league at-bats since leaving Miami, the 31-year-old has hit .185.