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Troy Johnston earns opportunity in Marlins big league camp

The former late-round draft pick is excited for the challenge of the 2023 Grapefruit League.

Marlins prospect Troy Johnston wearing sunglasses and black warmups at 2023 Spring Training Kevin Barral/Fish Stripes

It’s been a struggle in recent years for the Miami Marlins to develop their own hitters. The offense has been upgraded entering 2023 through trades and free agent signings, but they need some help from homegrown options. Drafted and developed by Miami, first base prospect Troy Johnston could be a big piece of their long-term lineup. During Spring Training, he’s hoping to prove himself.

“Really excited for the opportunity,” Johnston said about being a non-roster invitee to Marlins major league camp. “Really thankful for the Marlins that think of me so highly to be able to invite me to that.”

Although practically everybody reported to Jupiter early, the camp officially began on Tuesday and Johnston is taking it one day at a time. “Get some feels and hit the ball as hard as I can,” which is what he is known for.

Last season with Double-A Pensacola, Johnston slashed .292/.360/.450/.810 with 10 HR and 49 RBI. His production heavily dipped after earning the promotion to Triple-A, but he still had a successful season nonetheless. Johnston made his professional debut on Jun. 25, 2019; since that date, he leads all Marlins minor leaguers in total hits (302) and total RBIs (177).

Troy “felt pretty good” throughout the first two days of Marlins full-squad workouts and it showed. He made his presence known by hitting baseballs into the stratosphere, working well at first base, and always with an A+ attitude. He credits the work he did on the minor league side of camp earlier this month for preparing him.

According to Noah Berger, Johnston hit a ball that landed on the St. Louis Cardinals’ side of the practice facility.

“Adapting has not been that tough considering I have already played with a majority of the major league players, whether they were rehabbing down in the minors or came up through the system with me as well,” Johnston said. He also mentions that the clubhouse has “a great energy” to it.

As Marlins radio broadcaster Kyle Sielaff observed, Nick Fortes is likely to be the only hitter on the 2023 Opening Day roster who came up through the organization’s farm system. That’s unsustainable for a team that operates on a low payroll.

During Spring Training, Johnston is expected to get a good amount of first base reps as Miami prioritizes the health of All-Star first baseman Garrett Cooper. Fortes tells Fish Stripes that he’s anticipating some action at first as Cooper’s backup, but catcher is of course his primary position. Considering Cooper’s injury history and his pending free agency next offseason, Johnston could be contributing at the highest level very soon.

I asked Troy Johnston if he has thought about the moment when he will be in LoanDepot Park wearing the Marlins uniform on a major league field.

“Of course,” said Troy. He mentions that “it is a dream and a goal,” but acknowledges that he still has time left in the minors and that “when you get to the upper minors, you’re really close.”

Personally, Johnston is not only one of my favorite players in the org, but one of my favorite people. He’s always with his head up and positive about every situation, truly a class act. I expect to see him debut soon.