The Miami Marlins have baseball’s worst record, the lowest payroll, and easily the least popular owner. But what they also have is young talent and, to their credit, they are letting the kids play at the highest level.
Miami purchased the contract of infielder Derek Dietrich from Double-A Jacksonville on Wednesday, making him just the latest young player promoted to the big leagues for the Fish. The Marlins made a surprising decision before the campaign even began by bringing 20-year-old right hander Jose Fernandez to Opening Day and recently promoted outfielder Marcell Ozuna as well.
Say what you want about Jeffrey Loria and the way he bamboozled both the city of Miami and all the Marlins fans, but at least he’s not forcing the talent to stay in the Minors to save on service time. There are more than a couple other clubs that would place the financials of the arbitration clock well ahead of a player’s talent when considering whether or not to promote the player, especially on a club that’s looking up at everyone else in the standings; a situation that doesn’t figure to end soon.
Service time concerns are assumed to be much more relevent when considering guys like Fernandez and Ozuna rather than Dietrich, who some consider to have the ceiling of a role player at the big league level. When you look at his Minor League track record, however, you see a guy with good pop in his bat. Enough pop that John Sickels sees the potential of a left-handed hitting Dan Uggla.
Dietrich looks to get a good amount of playing time at second base for the Marlins in the short run, but his long-term profile suggests a possible shift to third; a position he has played eight times this season. Acquired in the Yunel Escobar deal, Dietrich is a former second round pick of the Rays out of Georgia Tech, where he compiled a stellar career at the dish.
Dietrich was rated by MLB.com as Miami’s eighth-best prospect and he made his big league debut in San Diego on Wednesday, singling in three at bats. He was off to a great start at Jacksonville before getting the call, posting a .282/.408/.505 line across 125 plate appearances. There are concerns about Dietrich’s tendency to get homer-happy with his swing and becoming both too long and too aggressive at the dish, but he has shown a better approach at the dish thus far in 2013.
The Marlins have the worst offensive team in baseball and that’s even after hanging 14 runs on the Phillies last week. Giancarlo Stanton is the only drawing card and he’s hurt.
But, with Fernandez turning heads with his performances on the mound and Ozuna and now Dietrich getting their shot, there is reason for optimism in South Florida. If nothing else, at least the few remaining Marlins fans will probably get a chance to see the spoils of all those trades without going on a tour of the club’s farm system.