For the first time in 2022, the Marlins’ position player depth is being tested. Brian Anderson landed on the injured list Friday with a presumed COVID-related issue, with Jon Berti succumbing to the same fate prior to Saturday’s game against the Padres.
The corresponding move for Berti’s IL placement was plucking Joe Dunand off the taxi squad. Expectations were not especially high for the former second-round draft pick—his prospect pedigree withered through the years due to inconsistent offensive production and a move off the shortstop position. But none of that matters when you step in between the foul lines.
Dunand went 2-for-4 in his major league debut, homering on his very first swing and putting the Marlins ahead for good en route to a 8-0 win.
Starting at third base and batting in the No. 9 spot, Dunand had to wait until the top of the third inning for his first plate appearance. He broke up the scoreless contest by pulling Sean Manaea’s 1-1 changeup just far enough to clear the left field wall.
In doing so, per Marlins Communications, Dunand joined Mitch Lyden (1993) and Jeremy Hermida (2005) as the only Marlins players to homer in the first at-bat of their major league debuts.
Uncle Alex Rodriguez was watching it live!
The rematch between Dunand and Manaea reached a 2-2 count with the southpaw determined to finish off the newbie with fastballs and curveballs. On the sixth pitch, Manaea tried to sneak a changeup through the back door. Once again, Dunand made good contact, merely “settling” for a line drive double.
Garrett Cooper brought him home later in the frame to extend Miami’s lead.
Dunand handled all four of his defensive chances cleanly. Having spent plenty of time working around Marlins big leaguers in previous spring trainings, he kept his poise when tasked with shifting across the infield against left-handed batters.
Needless to say, Dunand made a great first impression. Given the Marlins’ infatuation with platooning this season, there’s a strong likelihood that the 26-year-old Miami native will be back in the lineup again during the Diamondbacks series when Madison Bumgarner starts against them.
His role with the major league team is murky beyond that. Major League Baseball’s COVID protocols give the Marlins the flexibility to outright him off the 40-man roster once Anderson or Berti is eligible to return—that could happen within the next week if either of them are vaccinated and asymptomatic.
In the meantime, let’s applaud a player buried deep on the organizational depth chart for providing real contributions when called upon. What a refreshing development considering how poorly Marlins role players performed in comparable situations throughout much of 2021.