Following the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna after the 2017 season, Marlins fans knew that the first few seasons under new ownership would not end with any championships being brought back to South Florida. Even so, a two-year record of 120-203 has been difficult to swallow, especially given that we have only seen fleeting glimpses of a light at the end of the tunnel thus far. But with a new season comes renewed hope, and Don Mattingly and the rest of the front office are not only expecting, but demanding much better things from the roster as Spring Training gets set to start next week. The outlook certainly looks better for the Fish with the acquisitions of Jonathan Villar, Jesús Aguilar, and Corey Dickerson, among others, but there is also a lot resting on Isan Díaz, Brian Anderson, and Sandy Alcántara to continue to improve. Notable debuts by some top prospects are also on the cards, which could help to light a spark in the team down the stretch.
Let the Battle Begin
While the bullpen is currently facing a lot more questions than the rotation, there are still many things to sort out in general when it comes to pitchers in Spring Training. Is Alcántara the automatic Opening Day starter? Can Pablo López bounce back from another injury? Is José Ureña best utilized as a starter or reliever? Are Sixto Sánchez and Nick Neidert ready for the big leagues? Answers will be provided over the next few weeks, but surely not without a few surprises along the way. The fact that I argued last week that either Lewis Brinson or Magneuris Sierra would be DFA'd to make room for Matt Joyce on the 40-man roster shows that my crystal ball is broken. Undeterred, I am still going to go ahead here and predict that Ureña will open the 2020 season in the rotation instead of either Jordan Yamamoto or Elieser Hernandez—only to be replaced by Neidert by May.
Don't Touch that Dial
It has been announced that 940 WINZ will continue to broadcast Marlins baseball after the franchise agreed to terms with iHeartMedia for the 2020 season and beyond. Once again, the station will cover all 162 regular season Marlins games as well as at least 15 Grapefruit League contests, and tomorrow's FanFest at Marlins Park.
Terror on the Basepaths
Besides Jon Berti in his limited time with the team last season, the Marlins have lacked a baserunner with the ability to consistently disrupt games with their outright speed for a few seasons now. However, with the recent emphasis on drafting athletic, up-the-middle prospects, that could soon change as the franchise's numerous talented and speedy youngsters continue their development and move closer towards making their major league debuts. The fastest of all of Miami's prospects is 2019 10th-rounder J.D. Orr. The outfielder stole 60 bases in his final college season at Wright State, and then swiped 29 more bags with the short season Batavia Muckdogs last year while hitting .352 and sporting a .469 OBP. Potentially a quick-riser through the system given his college background, Orr looks destined to continue causing nightmares for opposing pitchers for years to come, and could one day bring that skill set all the way to Little Havana.
The inaugural Opening Day for Miami’s new Triple-A affiliate, the Wichita Wind Surge, is just over two months away, and their ballpark is moving closer to completion. Construction is about 85 percent complete. The facility will be able to seat 6,250 fans on gameday. With the likes of Sixto Sánchez, Monte Harrison, and Jorge Guzman set to begin the season with the brand new team, many eyes will be watching the Wind Surge intently throughout 2020.