Miami Marlins General Manager Kim Ng announced during the team’s Spring Training finale Sunday that Jazz Chisholm Jr. will be the Marlins Opening Day second baseman. This was the only true position player battle the Marlins had this spring, and the younger, less experienced candidate has come out on top.
Even though Isan Díaz seemingly had the upper hand coming into camp and showed promise through his first few games, Jazz’s performance during Grapefruit League play was too overwhelming and it forced the Marlins hand. After struggling in early March, Jazz came on late and ended up putting together some really nice numbers. After a 1-for-3 Sunday his spring slash line finished at .268/.333/.488/.821. He also went deep three times, stole four bases and played exceptional defense at both 2nd and his natural position, shortstop, where he projects long term.
Gonna tell our kids this is Jazz-ercise pic.twitter.com/RAxgfVnJ6a— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) March 17, 2021
The dynamic Bahamian prospect earned an honorable mention in our inaugural Marlin of the Month article.
On the other side it was a real struggle at the plate for Isan. He had just two hits this spring and a very measly .385 OPS. It wasn’t all bad for Isan—he hit the ball hard and worked great ABs. He walked seven times (working deep counts has always been one of his strengths). However, the production simply was not there. The Marlins’ brass has said the results don’t show Isan’s true body of work, but even adjusting for that doesn’t close the gap between them.
In the end the Marlins just liked Jazz a little too much, and he gave them good reason to.
As he did at times last year, Jazz flashed star potential all spring with exceptional defense, underrated baserunning, and his ability to drive the ball at the plate. His first AB of Grapefruit League play was an opposite field blast.
It was a sign of things to come and just another example of the type of potential he has.
Less than two weeks ago (on March 16), manager Don Mattingly said the Marlins were still looking for one of the guys to take a stranglehold on that competition. The day before, Jazz tallied two hits to get him off the schneid and then proceeded to go 9-for-22 (.409) and never looked back. He was the one that took control and left the Marlins with no choice.
Jazz won the job. There’s nothing else to it.
Now we look forward to the regular season where the Marlins will have one of their top prospects in the lineup on Opening Day. This is only the 2nd time since the Marlins rebuild began that one of their top 5 prospects will be in the Opening Day lineup, the other being Lewis Brinson in 2018.
Jazz said it was “like getting another call-up” when Mattingly told him “see you in Miami” before Sunday’s game, which let him know he had won the job. He said he’ll “100%” have family in the stands for Opening Day, and they’ll all be seeing him play in the Bigs in person for the first time because of COVID-19.
It’s obviously a very exciting time for Jazz and his family, but it should also be recognized as an exciting time for the entire Marlins organization. They went into this spring with one of their top prospects—arguably the one with the most upside—facing some real adversity, and they emerge with him as their starting second baseman.
Now they get to put one of the future cornerstones of their franchise on display on Opening Day to show fans what is in store for the future. Jazz shines a very bright light on the work the Marlins have done to build this organization from the ground up, and he is one of their most coveted pieces.
Craig Mish put things into perspective by mentioning how the Marlins traded Zac Gallen for Jazz after CEO Derek Jeter saw him in the Arizona Fall League. Gallen looked like a guy that would be a mainstay in the rotation for a long time, and since then he’s grown into a guy who could seriously contend for a Cy Young at some point in his career.
When Marlins CEO Derek Jeter saw Chisholm in the Arizona Fall League, and liked what he saw, the stage was always set for this day. Miami traded a heck of a Pitcher to Arizona in Zac Gallen for him. The 2021 season can now be the time to start evaluating that deal.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) March 28, 2021
It was no small price to pay, but the Marlins paid it because they knew about his potential to make an impact for them as an electric personality who can light up the screen, hit the ball out of the park, play exceptional defense at one of the most exciting positions to do it, and have fun while doing it. That’s the one thing Jazz said Marlins fans need to know about him: “I’m going to have fun no matter what.”
While there will be growing pains and Marlins fans need to have patience, they will also have fun when they watch Jazz play. It’s been a couple years now that we’ve been saying it’s an exciting time to be a Marlins fan, but there haven’t been many days more exciting than this one.
The future is here, Marlins fans.
The starting 2nd Baseman for your Miami Marlins: Jazz Chisholm Jr.— Ethan Budowsky (@ethanbudowsky) March 28, 2021
He will "100%" have Jr on his jersey this year. pic.twitter.com/3CPZc3nNR4
NOTE: Jazz’s jersey will look different this year, as the back of it will now read “Chisholm Jr.” Jazz said he’s been trying for years to make the switch, and even tried to when he came up with the Marlins last year. Make sure you adjust accordingly.