The Marlins roster will undergo considerable change over the next several days. Change is good! Since the latest jolt of prospect promotions in early August, the Fish have for the most part played a terrible, uninspiring brand of baseball. Not ideal when attempting to show the fanbase that there’s tangible progress being made in this rebuild. They gotta try something.
As our own Danny Martinez explained, MLB teams can utilize an expanded active roster beginning on Sunday, Sept. 1 as the usual 25-man limit is increased to 40. That allows young players to experience The Show for the first time, rewards journeymen with very particular skill sets or strong results at Triple-A, etc.
For fans asking about Miami’s call-up candidates, I present this comprehensive list.
RHP José Ureña, SS Miguel Rojas, INF JT Riddle, OF César Puello, RHP Tayron Guerrero
Miguel Rojas looks pretty healthy! His first swing of the game in New Orleans... pic.twitter.com/7LHuEB3GXi— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) August 27, 2019
All of the above players are currently on the major league injured list and in the midst of MiLB rehab assignments. With the exception of Puello, they were members of the Marlins Opening Day roster.
Some roles are changing—Ureña will try late-inning relieving, Riddle will return to the infield after an ill-fated center field experiment.
The Marlins have one 40-man roster spot available to use for Ureña; the others are already on the 40-man.
(Andre Fernandez of The Athletic reports that rookie LHP José Quijada is going to be recalled, too)
Valuable niche players
RHP Robert Dugger, OF Magneuris Sierra, C Tyler Heineman
Stretched out to 150 2⁄3 innings last season, there wouldn’t appear to be any restrictions on Dugger’s workload. That is convenient for the Marlins given the concerns that they may have about current starting rotation members (Caleb Smith coming off lat surgery, Jordan Yamamoto’s past shoulder injuries, etc.). Even if the club doesn’t do a full-blown six-man rotation in September, there figure to be at least one or two spot start opportunities. Another strong outing by Dugger for Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday could ensure his promotion.
Sierra leads the entire Marlins organization with 29 stolen bases in 2019. The juiced ball at Triple-A has bolstered his overall batting line (.273/.311/.387, 7 HR), but the attributes of a surefire, everyday major league outfielder don’t seem to be there. Nonetheless, he can be utilized in high-leverage defense and baserunning situations and take a few hacks against right-handed pitching.
Magneuris Sierra was the walk-off hero for New Orleans, and it is EXACTLY what you would expect a Magneuris Sierra walk-off to look like pic.twitter.com/gGzgWqDmyA— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) August 28, 2019
The Fish traded for Heineman as backup catcher insurance when Chad Wallach suffered his concussion. The 28-year-old has mashed for New Orleans ever since (.344/.388/.630, 10 HR in 168 PA). His overall track record is underwhelming, but it’s common practice for MLB teams to add a third catcher to their roster at this stage of the campaign. Expect Wilkin Castillo to be cut loose so that Heineman can slide into his 40-man roster spot.
Who’s left on the 40-man?
- OF Monte Harrison and OF Jesús Sánchez—Both athletic outfielders can be long-term building blocks for the Marlins, but poorly timed injuries (wrist and hamstring, respectively) make their call-up chances seem remote. Should he return to full strength by mid-September, Sánchez is a logical candidate to participate in the Arizona Fall League.
- RHP Jorge Guzman—Impressive season, especially in the second half. But 138 2⁄3 innings is already a huge leap from his previously career-high workload (96.0 IP in 2018). Guzman’s only potential September role would be in short relief. The Marlins will weigh the risk/reward, ultimately delaying his debut until 2020, I predict.
- RHP Jordan Holloway—Inconsistent work by Holloway in the High-A Jupiter rotation (4.45 ERA, 4.39 FIP in 95.0 IP), plagued by waaaaaaay too many walks. He is not ready yet.
- 3B/RF Brian Anderson and RHP Austin Brice—Recently sustained injuries will keep them sidelined for the final month. The team has flexibility to transfer them to the 60-day IL should they want to reward any of the names below with some playing time...
Best of the Rest
Speedskater-turned-speedy-infielder Eddy Alvarez comes with an unbelievable story of perseverance (via Andre Fernandez of The Athletic—subscription required). His .312/.402/.567 Baby Cakes slash line is eerily similar to what Isan Díaz did at that level this season. His skill set is more comparable to Jon Berti’s, though.
The Marlins might wind up losing right-hander Cody Poteet in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft if they don’t protect him on the 40-man. This rebuild has involved an influx of exciting new pitching prospects, but he is one of the holdovers (drafted in 2015).
Also under call-up consideration: RHP Brett Graves, LHP Mike Kickham, LHP Dylan Lee, LHP Brian Moran, INF Yadiel Rivera, INF Deven Marrero