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FOX Sports Florida’s Marlins prospects coverage must improve

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In 2019, the regional sports network made baffling errors during game broadcasts, referring to Marlins players by the wrong name, draft history and birthdate.

Before he joined Miami’s major league rotation, Robert Dugger was one of many Marlins minor leaguers who was presented to the FOX Sports Florida television audience with incorrect personal information.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins television broadcasts over these past two seasons have been about much more than the live play-by-play action. They needed to be. No MLB franchise spent 2018 and 2019 with such low expectations and so few in-their-prime star players. At the onset of a full-scale rebuild, the Marlins are putting forth a low-quality product that most fans don’t eagerly tune in to watch on a daily basis. To capture and retain the attention of the South Florida audience, FOX Sports Florida got more creative.

It’s insightful when former big leaguer Todd Hollandsworth picks up a bat in his hands to break down the change in a rookie’s swing. It’s refreshing when Jessica Blaylock or Kelly Saco describe the scene at a local elementary school as several players showed up earlier that day. And it’s exciting when the “Prospect Spotlight” graphic pops up in the middle innings to show which recent MLB Draft pick is living up to his potential.

Well, it’s supposed to be exciting.

In consuming many of the 2019 FOX Marlins broadcasts live and reviewing others shortly after the initial airing, Fish Stripes finds a disturbingly high volume of mistakes in the network’s minor league coverage. All season long, basic biographical and statistical details were displayed incorrectly, putting a damper on what should’ve been proud moments for players and their loved ones.

Below, you will see several examples of these graphics. Where applicable, the dates contain hyperlinks to the FOX Sports Florida Twitter account (@FOXSportsFL).

April 5

  • First game for the Batavia Muckdogs was June 14, not April 14

June 2

  • Listed height for Cody Poteet is 6’1”, not 6’10”
  • Drafted in the fourth round in 2015, not the 10th round
  • “Californa” should be California

June 8

June 26

  • Braxton Garrett was drafted in the first round in 2016, not the seventh round in 2017

July 6

  • Chris Vallimont was drafted in the fifth round in 2018, not the second round

July 27

  • Poteet’s height is corrected this time...but now his draft position is somehow more wrong than before

August 21

August 21

August 31

  • Stats and game score are both from Batavia’s July 8 game; “last night” refers to August 30

September 8

  • “Josh Richardson” should be Josh Roberson
  • “Cedar Rapids Kernals” should be Cedar Rapids Kernels

These screenshots represent only a portion of Prospect Spotlight typos made during the 2019 season, but they should give you the gist of it.

FOX Sports Florida is aware of the poor performance. “Our networks combine to produce and televise over 700 live sporting events each year throughout the state, including all 162 Miami Marlins games this season on FOX Sports Florida,” spokesman Eric Esteban says. “Our number one priority is to have accurate information and we plan to evaluate our in-game broadcast production at the end of the season.”

Diagnosing the issue from afar is impossible, but we can speculate that maybe the researcher (or researchers) responsible for producing Prospect Spotlight graphics lacked familiarity with the subject matter? Or do supervisors deserve more of the blame for neglecting to fact-check such basic details before approving them for primetime use? Regardless, there is an obvious lack of expertise internally; multiple times in 2019, FOX Sports Florida personalities contacted Fish Stripes privately to verify stats and information about Marlins prospects before presenting them on air.

Occasional broadcast errors are inevitable, especially considering their heavy workload. However, fans want to trust FSFL to be an authority on all Marlins-related developments—they have been falling short of that standard.

Beyond mentions during live Marlins games, the network committed time and resources specifically to prospects coverage. Their pre-game studio show featured interviews with numerous players, coaches and executives during the season.

They also produced two standalone episodes of “Marlins Prospect Spotlight,” one focusing on the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads, and the other checking in on both the Low-A Clinton LumberKings and the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Those specials re-aired repeatedly after their debuts.

Of course, that kind of thoroughness and accuracy is most important when viewership is at its highest.

The elite Marlins farm system is stocked with players who will soon have steady roles on Miami’s active roster. These project to be long-term building blocks for the franchise, and the depth and polish of FOX Sports Florida’s minor league coverage should reflect that.