Happy New Year! Forget about Jan. 1—Feb. 12 is the real start to 2020, at least for Marlins fans. Pitchers and catchers have reported to major league camp for their physicals and first workout together. The Miami Blue uniforms are back and the possibilities are endless. Just a great time to be alive.
Now, let’s get everybody caught up...
Same team as last year?
Noooooooo. Only 23 players who finished the 2019 season on the Marlins 40-man roster are on the roster entering camp. Significant additions include outfielder Corey Dickerson, infielder Jonathan Villar, first baseman Jesús Aguilar and presumed closer Brandon Kintzler. Top prospects like right-handers Sixto Sánchez and Edward Cabrera and shortstop Jazz Chisholm have been added to the 40-man, inching them closer to the big leagues. Even the coaching staff got a partial makeover. Renowned Twins hitting coach James Rowson takes over as bench coach/offensive coordinator, while longtime Rays and Reds instructor Billy Hatcher was hired to be their first base/outfield coach.
Same Fish Stripes as last year?
With the cooperation of the Marlins, my staff is once again credentialed and will have a strong presence at Spring Training workouts and games. Big developments will be posted in article form at FishStripes.com/news, but be sure to follow along on Twitter (@fishstripes) for more commentary and lighthearted antics.
Join us for a game the night of Feb. 27! Tickets cost $14 per person for bleacher seats and $27 per person for reserved. Payable to @fishstripes on Venmo.
Also, the Marlins Season Preview series is back and ramped up to a larger scale than ever before. We expect to have in-depth analysis on more than 50 players between now and Opening Day.
Who is in the best shape of their life?
#Marlins First Baseman Jesus Aguilar on joining the Marlins & his 2019 season. He also told me afterward he lost 20 pounds this offseason. His weight was as high as 296, now about 270-275. pic.twitter.com/2eOSpUEZs4— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 7, 2020
Aguilar explains to Craig Mish of Swings and Mishes how he and the Marlins agreed that significant weight loss could play a role in helping him rebound from a disappointing 2019 campaign. He put in the work independently to lose 20 pounds. Outfielder Harold Ramirez also noticeably trimmed body fat over the winter while training in Colombia.
S/O to @robert_dugger on his great offseason. He ended last year 89-91 mph on the fastball. This offseason, Rob gained 15lbs and a ton of strength. Today, he was 92-95 mph. Can’t wait to see how he takes this into the upcoming season. His work ethic and consistency is unmatched. pic.twitter.com/2GL9InCGDY— Kevin Poppe, CSCS (@TheKevinPoppe) February 5, 2020
Who has the most to prove?
I’ll begin with two-time defending Marlins Opening Day starter José Ureña. He is getting stretched out for a rotation role after finishing last season in the bullpen, but the 28-year-old is auditioning for the other 29 MLB teams just as much as his current employer. Assuming their other main arms avoid preseason injuries, the Fish will look to unload Ureña’s $3.75 million salary while creating space on the 40-man for a deserving non-roster invitee.
Outfielder Magneuris Sierra is out of minor league options and has thus far performed below replacement level in The Show. He needs to be more fundamentally sound defensively and prove that September’s superb contact rate was legitimate. Otherwise, he’ll be buried on the bench once the regular season begins or perhaps even flipped for whatever fringy young talent the trade market presents.
Also, Drew Steckenrider. Allegedly 100% healthy coming back from an elbow injury, he has surely noticed how the Marlins revamped their bullpen during the offseason—he and Adam Conley are the only survivors from the 2019 Opening Day roster. The team will be patient with Conley, understanding that funky, hard-throwing left-handers can be very valuable to contenders if they show any competence whatsoever. They refuse to “sell low” on him. Steck, on the other hand, is more conventional and therefore less marketable unless he dominates. If he doesn’t break camp on the active roster, he’ll have a difficult time ever reestablishing himself as a high-leverage weapon.
How can I watch the Grapefruit League games?
The Marlins are going to be televised on FOX Sports Florida six times this spring, beginning on Feb. 24. Paul Severino and Todd Hollandsworth will only have one game in the booth together (Mar. 11 vs. the Yankees).
How can I listen to the Grapefruit League games?
Tune in to 940 WINZ and 1230 The Zone for radio broadcasts of most Marlins games. There are 11 others streamed exclusively on MLB.com and the At Bat app. Overall, 29 of 31 games will have some kind of live audio feed (exceptions are split-squad games on Mar. 4 and Mar. 22).
Could you make some juicy spring predictions?
The Marlins will have a 17-14 record.
Víctor Víctor Mesa will have a .365 batting average (but still get optioned to the minors at the end of camp).
Corey Dickerson will hit zero home runs and people will panic (but it’s fine).
José Ureña gets traded to the Rangers in March.