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What does the future of Bryan De La Cruz look like with the Marlins?

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The 24-year-old outfielder is putting up great numbers in his first taste of the majors.

Miami Marlins outfielder Jesus Sanchez (76) celebrates his solo home run with Miami Marlins outfielder Bryan De La Cruz (77) during the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Bryan De La Cruz was born December 16, 1996 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Bryan De La Cruz signed with the Houston Astros at 16 years old as an international amateur free agent on September 24, 2013. De La Cruz developed with Astros minor league affiliates until he was traded to the Marlins for Yimi García at the 2021 trade deadline. De La Cruz was playing great at Triple-A at the time (272 AB, 48 R, 88 H, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, .324 BA, .362 OBP, .880 OPS).

The Emergence of De La Cruz

Bryan De La Cruz was brought up to the Marlins active roster immediately and made a strong first impression with defensive abilities and consistent at-bats. He has gotten starts at each of the outfield spots. De La Cruz is playing as well as anybody on the team right now with stats that have been out of this world: 133 AB, 11 R, 45 H, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, .338 BA, .386 OBP, .867 OPS.

The Future of De La Cruz

The rookie’s production has put the Marlins in one of those good yet stressful situations. He needs to be taken seriously as a candidate for a starting outfield job in 2022. The decision isn’t totally within his control because the Marlins are expected to bring in more established talent this offseason. Even once those moves are made, spring training performance and health will be huge factors.

Why De La Cruz should be a starter

DLC has shown consistency with both his defense and the quality of his at-bats that most of the time have led to hits, walks or productive outs. The next wave of outfield prospects in the Marlins organization have real potential, but they are unproven and their skill sets are less well-rounded. De La Cruz can fill the team’s need in left field while the front office shops for a veteran center fielder.

Why De La Cruz should not be a starter

He has not had enough time in the big leagues to prove that this hot streak is legitimate. If the Marlins want to contend in 2022, they should go after big targets in the offseason who have longer track records like Bryan Reynolds (via trade) and Mark Canha (via free agency). De La Cruz would still really makes sense on the major league roster, but more so as a 4th outfielder who’s a reliable hitter in late-game situations and a versatile defensive substitute.

My Opinion

I love Bryan De La Cruz and I have loved what he has done in his time with the Marlins. I think the Marlins should have his name in pencil to be a starter for the time being, but his best fit is as a 4th outfielder moving forward once they make big splashes in the offseason. If De La Cruz starts on Opening Day 2022, it will mean that the team failed to spend what it takes to improve their outfield situation.


Now that you have heard both sides of the Bryan De La Cruz debate, what do you think the Marlins should do: Start DLC or bench him? Let me know in the comments below and make sure to check out Fish Stripes Unfiltered on YouTube and all other podcast platforms available to you.