With two weeks until MLB Opening Day (but potentially more than that as the Coronavirus epidemic continues to force “mass gatherings” of all kinds to reschedule), Marlins insider Craig Mish forecasted what the Marlins outfield will look like at the beginning of the season on the latest Swings and Mishes podcast episode. That includes Lewis Brinson starting in right field.
During Spring Training, Brinson has seen action at all three outfield positions while slashing .345/.355/.793 in 31 plate appearances with an uncharacteristically great 9.7% strikeout rate. Aside from slight adjustments to his batting stance, the 25-year-old former top prospect changed his in-game routine as well.
Lewis Brinson says he has developed a new routine with hitting coach Eric Duncan this spring, where before leaving the dugout for each at-bat, he tells Duncan the "plan" that he has for that specific matchup— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) March 11, 2020
As you are well aware, however, Brinson’s track record in meaningful games is horrific—he is a lifetime .183/.238/.293 hitter (43 wRC+) in the MLB regular season. Although gifted with great athleticism, his defensive and baserunning contributions haven’t come close to compensating for those limitations at the plate. The Marlins still have one minor league option remaining with the South Florida native, but understandably want to gain some clarity about who he is as a player before the next wave of outfield prospects push for a promotion this summer.
Meanwhile in center field, Mish believes Jonathan Villar will play there regularly, with Isan Díaz at second base despite ugly results in spring games. He acknowledges that Monte Harrison could complicate those plans. The toolsy outfielder still has approximately a 25% chance of cracking the Opening Day roster, which would in turn relocate Villar to second base and Díaz to Triple-A Wichita.
But assuming that Harrison is the one who begins 2020 in Wichita, there will be a spot for the out-of-options Magneuris Sierra as a late-game pinch-runner/defensive replacement. Mish thinks Sierra will get the nod over non-roster invitee Matt Kemp.
“They have not seen enough from Kemp to think that he is viable, that he is one of the top 26 guys on their roster right now,” Mish says.
Garrett Cooper should get occasional work at first base and left field behind Jesús Aguilar and Corey Dickerson, respectively. With Matt Joyce on a guaranteed contract, Harold Ramirez gets squeezed down to Triple-A. The Marlins still like his hitting ability and believe he can have a major league role further down the line, according to Mish.
EPISODE 78 @CraigMish & @jeremytache break down the 26-man roster:— Swings and Mishes (@SwingsAndMishes) March 12, 2020
• Isan the starting 2B?
• Monte’s chances?
• Another shot for Brinson?
Plus, a chat with Marlins World Series Champ, Jim Leyland
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