2021 Miami Marlins Spring Training: Friendly Competition

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The 2021 Miami Marlins have a battle in the infield
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 26: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with Isan Diaz #1 after hitting a three run home run in the top of the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The 2021 Miami Marlins Spring Training has been underway for two weeks. They have announced they will have fans in the stadium to start the season. The joke around baseball is that the Marlins only fill 15% capacity anyways. With that said the Marlins have a lot to be excited about. Not only did they make the playoffs. They shocked baseball again by winning a series.

Christina De Nicola fills us in on the ins and outs of the Marlins Covid Plan.

Ng and her staff addressed their main concerns in the offseason. Adam Duvall was added for power while additional arms were added to sure up the bullpen. Now, it is about performance. “In terms of Duvall, [we] saw him as an opportunity to add another quality veteran to our mix,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said on Zoom. “Adam is somebody who has had a lot of success in the past and hoping that he can continue that success here as well. Again, adds another offensive presence in our lineup and is a very good defensive player as well.”

2021 Miami Marlins: Infield Competition

With Miguel Rojas on the other side of his prime, Miami has two future stars in Isan Díaz and Jazz Chisholm. It is foreseeable these two will patrol the middle infield. This spring, however, the pair are competing for the second-base job, with utility player Jon Berti also in the mix. It will be important for Diaz and Chisholm to develop chemistry where they push each other and feed of each other’s improvement.

The Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly is optimistic about the combo in the future; however, he foresees just one of the two making the Opening Day team. De Nicola also mentions “Since Díaz and Chisholm are young and inexperienced, getting regular at-bats to further their development is more important than being on the bench for the Major League club. During the spring, there will be enough at-bats to go around, with Chisholm also seeing time at shortstop.” Ng and Mattingly will have to weigh the benefits of winning today versus providing an environment for their top talent to maximize potential.

Mattingly said Thursday on Zoom. “You want guys always feeling like, ‘I’ve got to continue to improve and I’ve got to continue to show what I can do because there’s another guy that can play.’ And we think that’s healthy. I don’t want guys in the thought of competition, ‘It’s either mine or his, and I don’t want him to do well.’ It is important

One concerning issue is Diaz’s 29.6 percent strikeout rate (MLB average is 21.8%)

Isan Diaz opted out of the 2020 season before deciding to play in September but failed to add an impact due to an injury. In January 2016, the D-Backs traded him with Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill to the Brewers for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner. Two years later, Miami acquired him in the Christian Yelich trade, along with outfielder Monte Harrisonoutfielder Lewis Brinson, and RHP Jordan Yamamoto.

Diaz played seven games in the shortened 60-game regular season. He played two games before opting out after the team coronavirus outbreak. At the time, Diaz called the decision a “difficult choice,” but “the best one for me and my overall well-being” in an August 1 Instagram story post.

He applied for reinstatement, returning to the active roster on Sept. 10 but played in just five games before a left groin strain ended his season. Diaz slashed .182/.182/.364 with one RBI, three runs, and seven strikeouts in 22 at-bats. For his career, he’s batting .174/.251/.294 in 201 ABs. Diaz still has much to prove but the future is promising.

Chisholm, the Marlins’ No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, whether his mindset this offseason was to be the starting second baseman in 2021. Jazz’s character and mindset is refreshing. In January he said, “I don’t think specifically about competition, honestly,” said Chisholm, who turns 23 next month.

“I just think I’m going to go out there and bust myself out there because it’s not about making the position. You’re just trying to be on the team to help it win. It’s not all about me. It’s basically about us, and you have a family out there where even if I don’t make the job, if I’m coming off the bench as a bench bat, I have to be the best bench bat I can be. If I’m coming in there starting, I’m going to be the best player I can be out there as well. That’s what I’m looking forward to.” You have to love a kid like that.

Chisholm got his first taste of the big leagues in 2020. He slashed .161/.242/.321 with two homers and six RBIs across 62 plate appearances while adding two stolen bases. In game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Braves, Chisholm got the start, and he doubled and walked. It is a small sample size.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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