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Old Friends roundup: How did notable ex-Marlins do in Spring Training?

Checking in with former Fish prospects like Jarlin García, JT Riddle and Austin Dean who’ve gone through a change of scenery.

Red Sox vs Pirates Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

With the 2020 MLB regular season on hold, and the length/schedule of that season in jeopardy of being changed, there’s not much to look forward to at this moment. So instead, we reflect on what occurred during Spring Training.

While there were plenty of intriguing storylines to follow at Marlins camp, I was also keeping tabs on “Old Friends” in new surroundings. Nearly half of the Marlins 40-man roster turned over during the offseason; with the exception of the retired Curtis Granderson and Martín Prado, each of those departing players landed deals with other MLB organizations.

This roundup focuses on those who spent the majority of the 2019 season on the Marlins 25-man active roster, plus a couple exceptions who fell short of that threshold but were drafted and developed by the Fish, and therefore well known by the fanbase.

  • Austin Brice (0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 10 K in 6.2 IP for Red Sox)—Out of minor league options and coming off a significant elbow injury, Brice was traded in January for lottery-ticket prospect Angeudis Santos. Seemed kind of bizarre at the time from a Marlins perspective and even more so now that the right-hander reported to Spring Training 100% healthy. He could wind up handling high-leverage innings for the Sox.
  • Starlin Castro (.042/.179/.042, 0 RBI in 24 AB for Nationals)—The only departing Marlins player who secured a multi-year free agent deal, Castro is adjusting to different circumstances with the reigning World Series champions. Safe to say he won’t be playing 162 games like he did last season.
  • Wei-Yin Chen (10.80 ERA, 2.70 WHIP, 0 K in 3.1 IP for Mariners)—Presumably, Chen is willing to accept a Triple-A stint? Because even on a hodge podge Seattle pitching staff, he doesn’t appear to be among the 13 best options. Here is your periodic reminder that the Fish are on the hook for the $22 million that remains on his contract for 2020.
  • Austin Dean (.250/.368/.563, 2 HR, 4 RBI in 32 AB for Cardinals)— The enthusiastic outfielder is showing more power this spring than he did in comparable playing time during the 2019 Grapefruit League. With active roster sizes increasing from 25 to 26 spots, perhaps he can contribute at the major league level in a specialized pinch-hitting role.

  • Jarlin García (0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 8 K in 5.0 IP for Giants)—Losing Jarlin the Marlin as a waiver claim was perhaps the least popular transaction of an otherwise encouraging offseason. His strikeout total in spring appearances was tied for the third-highest on the Giants.
  • Tayron Guerrero (1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 2 K in 6.0 IP for White Sox)—A non-roster invitee following his disappointing 2019, the Colombian flamethrower was reassigned to minor league camp and out of consideration for the White Sox Opening Day bullpen.
  • Bryan Holaday (.188/.278/.438, 1 HR, 1 RBI in 16 AB for Orioles)—Holaday has about as much MLB service time as all the other O’s Spring Training catchers combined. Interesting observation from MLB.com’s Joe Trezz that the 32-year-old apparently went through a legitimate warm-up at third base on at least one occasion.
  • Tyler Kinley (0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 6 K in 6.0 IP for Rockies)—Perhaps no MLB team has a larger disconnect between their projected 2020 performance and the expectations being set by their decision-makers than the Rockies do. Wildcards like Kinley must have career years for them to shock the world and contend.
  • José Quijada (2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 K in 4.0 IP for Angels)—The Quijada DFA showed that the Marlins were skeptical of him being able to throw strikes consistently. Buried pretty far down on the Halos depth chart, it may take until midsummer for him to get the opportunity to prove himself in the big leagues.
  • JT Riddle (.304/.320/.609, 3 RBI in 23 AB for Pirates)—Pittsburgh is really leaned into Riddle’s defensive versatility by deploying him at second base, third base and left field in spring contests. His performance served as one of the few bright spots for a club that was the laughingstock of the Grapefruit League.

  • Neil Walker (.250/.300/.393, 1 HR 3 RBI in 28 AB for Phillies)—The veteran switch-hitter appears highly likely to parlay his non-roster invite into a bench role. This will be his fifth different team since the beginning of the 2017 season.