There are players who will obviously be on the roster. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, just to name a few, have no problems making the roster, but filling out the roster will be something to keep an eye on over the next two weeks. Here is a group of players who have given themselves a solid chance to make the opening day roster or at least get a look later on in April or May.
Marcell Ozuna will likely join the aforementioned outfielders and round out a forceful trio, and J.T Realmuto, Justin Bour, and the platoon at shortstop (Miguel Rojas and Adeiny Hechevarria) should be in check as well. What about the remaining spots?
Martin Prado figures to be the starting third baseman again, but he is dealing with a pulled hamstring and will miss at least Opening Day. That is great news for Rojas and Derek Dietrich, both of whom hit well last season. Dietrich, who was the main beneficiary of Dee Gordon’s 80-game suspension, hit .279 last season and barely missed the 100-hit mark for the first time. He should continue to find playing time around the field provided that injuries would happen throughout the season.
While Rojas only collected 48 hits last season, he was also a flexible option in the infield, playing all four positions last year. That included playing first base for the first time. He also got hits in bunches, including a three-hit night and a two-run single on May 23 in a 7-6 win over the Rays. He has been outstanding during spring training. Despite a head contusion on March 7, he has hit .400 in the exhibition games, including three singles and a stolen base in as many at-bats against Detroit on March 18.
— Miami Marlins Fans (@MarlinsViews) March 17, 2017
Ichiro Suzuki is also expected to make the roster as a fourth outfielder, but the Marlins may have found some ideal replacements if Ichiro cannot match his .291 season, in which he got to 3,000 MLB hits. Destin Hood, Matt den Dekker, and Moises Sierra have led the team in games played, which is not a coincidence because they each have at least 10 hits. Hood, a former second-round pick from Washington who made his MLB debut as a September call-up for Miami last year, is the only one on the 40-man roster, and is a solid choice for fifth outfielder.
If Hood cannot carry his strong spring training, in which he hit .308, into the regular season, then Sierra would be the next best choice. The former Blue Jay has hit .414 in spring training and is making a strong case for a spot on the 40-man roster. It is worth noting that den Dekker has made a strong case, too. The former Met and National, who faded early last season, went off with two long home runs against the Mets on Sunday (the Marlins played twice that day, and den Dekker was on the road crew).
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With A.J. Ellis injured, look for Tomas Telis to get some chances at backup catcher behind Realmuto, for the catching prospect has hit .400 in March. It is also worth monitoring Brian Anderson, Matt Juengel, and veteran Tyler Moore, all of whom have impressed, for potential looks at the corner infield spots if they can make the 40-man roster early this season.
Pitching is much more unpredictable. A.J. Ramos, Adam Conley, Tom Koehler, and Dan Straily will make the Opening Day roster despite a hard time in Jupiter, while Edinson Volquez and Wei-Yin Chen have found some veteran revivals up the coast. In the bullpen, the best relievers have come from none other than the Boston Red Sox. Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler have not allowed a single run in six combined appearances, with Tazawa allowing a .214 batting average in four relief appearances and Ziegler not allowing a single baserunner in two appearances. Ziegler, who has recently closed games out in Arizona, looks to be a solid choice to work later innings with Kyle Barraclough and David Phelps.
With Justin Nicolino looking bad to begin the year, the back end of the bullpen has swung open for roster hopefuls. Former Brave Brandon Cunniff had a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings with Atlanta last season, and he has yet to allow a run with Miami in his first three starts with his new team. Despite a lofty batting average against, he has also completed two saves.
As of now, it may be better to start the season with Hunter Cervenka or Jarlin Garcia. Cervenka has the advantage of not only being on the 40-man roster, but also for pitching in 68 games for Atlanta and Miami last year. After allowing three earned runs in his second appearance in Miami back on Aug. 8, he went on to allow just two earned runs for the rest of the season and bring his ERA down to a modest 3.53. He will look to break through in Miami bullpen during his second full year in the MLB.
With the bottleneck of starters, expect #4 Marlins prospect Garcia to pitch out of the bullpen this year if he breaks into the majors this season. With a batting average against of .176 and no earned runs allowed, Garcia is on a fast track for an April call-up. The equally impressive Tayron Guerrero, who represented Colombia in the World Baseball Classic, is also a good choice in the bullpen.
Finally, keep an eye on #5 Miami prospect Dillon Peters. At 24, he is getting really close to the big leagues after pitching in AA Jacksonville in 2016. He shut out Washington in three innings in his only start back on March 9, and he got a save six days later. He has the talent to outsmart hitters right now, and he should get a chance to pitch this season and possibly even start a few games in September.
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