One of the countless new rules that’s been implemented for the shortened 2020 MLB season is an initial 30-man active roster size. During Summer Camp, Marlins decision-makers hinted that they would go with an unbalanced roster for Opening Day—more pitchers than position players. Thursday’s announcement has confirmed that.
The Fish head into Friday’s game with the following eligible players:
RHP Sandy Alcantara, RHP Brad Boxberger*, RHP Jeff Brigham, LHP Adam Conley, RHP Robert Dugger, RHP Yimi Garcia, RHP Elieser Hernandez, RHP Jordan Holloway, RHP. Brandon Kintzler, RHP Pablo López, RHP Nick Neidert, RHP Sterling Sharp, LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Ryne Stanek, LHP Stephen Tarpley, RHP José Ureña and LHP Alex Vesia*
*Newly added to Marlins 40-man roster (had been non-roster invitees during spring training/summer camp)
Position Players (13)
Jesús Aguilar, Jorge Alfaro, Brian Anderson, Jon Berti, Francisco Cervelli, Garrett Cooper, Isan Díaz, Corey Dickerson, Harold Ramirez, Miguel Rojas, Magneuris Sierra, Jonathan Villar and Chad Wallach.
In addition, Aaron Northcraft and Sean Rodriguez will be on the taxi squad making the trip to Philadelphia.
At noon ET on August 6, the roster size will shrink from 30 players to 28. Then at noon ET on August 20, it will shrink again from 28 to 26.
Let’s highlight the Marlins who are going to be experiencing their first-ever MLB Opening Day, and others who were ultimately on the outside looking in.
Opening Day First-Timers
- Jon Berti—The speedy utility man led the Marlins in stolen bases in 2019 despite spending most of the season in the minor leagues or on the injured list.
- Isan Díaz—The organization’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year could be the biggest beneficiary of new Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson. Díaz has plus raw power, but was overly patient as a rookie, getting himself into unfavorable counts.
- Robert Dugger—Dugger showed up at spring training with a thicker frame and a couple extra ticks of fastball velocity. For now, he’s expected to work low-leverage innings.
- Elieser Hernandez—Former Rule 5 Draft pick who has developed good swing-and-miss weapons. Hernandez will be in the starting rotation for now, though he won’t stick there long unless he’s immediately effective.
- Jordan Holloway—The Marlins have continued developing Holloway as a starter since his return from Tommy John surgery. However, there’s reason to believe that his fastball/curveball combination and shaky control are better suited for relief. We are about to find out!
- Nick Neidert—I am high on Neidert’s potential to be a difference-maker in 2020, as noted in our new Fish Stripes roundtable.
- Harold Ramirez—The most clutch bat in the 2019 Marlins lineup, Ramirez modified his batting stance entering this year, aiming for more extra-base production (sky-high ground ball rate as a rookie).
- Sterling Sharp—Miami’s most recent Rule 5 pick has many starting pitcher attributes. However, he’ll get his feet wet as a long man out of the ‘pen.
- Magneuris Sierra—A career .247/.282/.271 hitter (51 wRC+), Sierra is out of minor league options. He’s an asset in the outfield and on the basepaths, but could find himself squeezed off the team by the top prospects mentioned below unless he demonstrates more impact with his bat.
- Alex Vesia—Vesia, like Sharp, has zero prior major league experience and entered pro ball as a late-round draft pick. His effectiveness has been off the charts at every prior level of competition to fuel this rapid ascension (34.7 K% in the minors).
- Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce—Both are on the injured list for no specific reason (presumed to be COVID-19 related but that has not been confirmed). The maneuver allows the Marlins to vacate their 40-man roster spots without ruling them out to return in the near future.
- Drew Steckenrider—An elbow injury ruined the right-hander’s 2019 season. This time, the issue is right triceps tendinitis. Steckenrider was placed on the 45-day IL (this year’s modified version of what’s usually the 60-day IL).
- Monte Harrison—Ethan Budowsky addressed Harrison’s Opening Day snub on video, and I echoed those sentiments on the most recent Fish Picks episode. Simply put, Harrison will need to be active for the Fish to give them a chance to truly contend.
- Lewin Díaz and Jesús Sánchez—Highly regarded prospects who flashed their gaudy offensive potential throughout the preseason. There should be opportunities for both of them to debut before the 2020 campaign is through.
- Jordan Yamamoto—Elieser Hernandez beat out Yamamoto for the final rotation spot, but the Marlins want him to continue training for the role at their alternate site in Jupiter (rather than transitioning to the ‘pen).