MIAMI—After one week of bullpen sessions and batting practices, the Miami Marlins took to the field for their first intrasquad scrimmage of Summer Camp. Caleb Smith and Sandy Alcantara were the starting pitchers, who also happen to be the club’s two most viable Opening Day starter candidates.
But this was no pitcher’s duel. Instead, it was a showcase of sluggers that the Fish have been longing for since the departure of Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton.
In the second inning, Lewin Díaz annihilated a ball off of Smith and into the bushes in left-center field. Diaz, who came over from the Twins last year in the Sergio Romo trade, brought some much needed power to an organization that was in dire need of it. In 501 plate appearances in High-A and Double-A last year, Díaz hit 27 home runs. The Marlins major league home run leader in 2019, Starlin Castro, only had 22. The highly touted first baseman had previously demonstrated his power potential during live batting practice earlier in the week.
Brad Boxberger, 2019: 1 HR allowed to all left-handed batters faced— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 7, 2020
Brad Boxberger, 2020: 1 HR allowed to Lewin Díaz pic.twitter.com/y8uC9ixtoR
The fireworks didn’t stop there, though. Just an inning later, outfielder Monte Harrison hit a moonshot above the left field bullpen. There were no fans, home run sculpture, or music to accompany him in his trip around the bases. But the electricity could still be felt throughout an empty Marlins Park.
Monte Harrison with a no-doubter off Caleb Smith pic.twitter.com/rAoQwIpoW1— Alex Krutchik (@AlexKrutchikFS) July 9, 2020
The Marlins know that they have some dudes in their lineup.
It isn’t all about power, however. Jonathan Villar, another offseason signing for the Marlins, also showed us why he was selected as the club’s leadoff hitter earlier this week. After drawing a walk in his first at-bat, he lined a single into right field, and followed it up by stealing second base.
Stolen base for Villar. Alfaro sort of bobbled the transfer, but it looks like Villar would’ve beat him anyway pic.twitter.com/mUySiDhqee— Alex Krutchik (@AlexKrutchikFS) July 9, 2020
Villar swiped 40 bags for the Orioles last season and is poised to lead the Marlins in that category. The sportsbook SportsBetting.ag sets his 2020 total at over/under 14.5.
It was encouraging to see that the starting pitchers did settle down later in the game. Smith was able to get revenge on Monte with a strikeout in his next at-bat. In his final two innings, he found his groove and got a hold of his strikeout pitch, throwing 5 Ks in just over 4 innings before reaching his pitch limit. After Harrison’s long home run, Smith allowed no runs and just one hit.
Smith attributes his wobbly start to discomfort in his neck that he woke up with the morning.
“Felt good to get back out there on the mound and have some competition,” said Smith. “(Harrison) got me today. It was a bad changeup at the top of the zone. That’s what happens when you make bad pitches.”
Sandy also struggled with command out of the gate. Although he only gave up one walk, only 43 of his 80 pitches were strikes. He racked up seven strikeouts, including three straight to get out of the 5th inning.
Brandon Kintzler, Sterling Sharp, Drew Steckenrider and Brad Boxberger pitched out of the bullpen. Kintzler was knocked around a little bit, while Steckenrider struck out two batters in his inning. With 30 spots to fill on the Opening Day active roster, all four relievers are in line to make the club. We should expect them to find the strike zone more and more as camp goes on and the rust gets shaken off.
Although we got a good look at pitchers and hitters, the fielding didn’t have a very “competitive” feel to it. The Marlins never played with all nine positions on the field at once. The game started off with Miguel Rojas, Isan Díaz and Jesús Aguilar at SS, 2B, and 1B, respectively. There was neither a third baseman nor outfielders in the first two innings. In the second half of the game, the Fish played three outfielders, but without infielders. For what it’s worth, all defensive chances were handled without committing any errors.
The Marlins’ next simulated game is Friday at 5:30 p.m. Alex Contreras will attend on behalf of Fish Stripes. Although the Marlins have no official exhibition games on their schedule, Don Mattingly said they are working to finalize a game against another club just before Opening Day on July 24.