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Notes: Chisholm homers; Sánchez hangs tough

@JoeFrisaro
March 8, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- It took nine games for Jazz Chisholm to break into his home run trot. And, as if on cue, the 22-year-old shortstop saw it coming. In the fifth inning on Sunday afternoon, Chisholm crushed a towering home run off left-hander Génesis Cabrera in the Marlins’ 7-3 loss

JUPITER, Fla. -- It took nine games for Jazz Chisholm to break into his home run trot. And, as if on cue, the 22-year-old shortstop saw it coming.

In the fifth inning on Sunday afternoon, Chisholm crushed a towering home run off left-hander Génesis Cabrera in the Marlins’ 7-3 loss to the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

Chisholm, the Marlins’ No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, went 1-for-2 on Sunday with a strikeout and walk.

The homer was a no-doubt drive that Statcast projected at 395 feet, with an exit velocity of 112 mph, and a 29 degree launch angle. The pitch was a low fastball, clocked at 95.7 mph.

“I’m really happy with where I am right now,” Chisholm said. “Because I’m still seeing pitches. Even though today, it started out with a strikeout. Even the next at-bat, I got to [two strikes] and I still battled and got a walk. I feel like that is my greatest accomplishment today, because I went from [two strikes] to a walk.”

The home run came a day after Chisholm said in an MLB.com interview that at this point in camp, he will be looking to drive the ball and do some damage. In the first part of Spring Training, he has done plenty of tee work, and he has stayed focused on keeping his swing short. The hard contact he had been making thus far had been mostly on ground balls.

“I was more just finding the barrel, even if it is on the ground,” Chisholm said. “I can work from down to up. Now that I’m working from down to up, I feel really good getting into every ball.”

The homer came off a pitcher with big league experience. Cabrera made 13 appearances (two starts) for the Cardinals in 2019.

“You see the bat speed,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Chisholm. “It’s fun to watch. But as much as anything, you’re seeing him see the ball good. He’s seeing the ball early. He’s had really good at-bats, in terms of walks. It seems he is seeing the ball well.”

Chisholm is one of the promising prospects in the Miami system, and he could earn his way to the big leagues at some point this season. He is expected to start off at Triple-A Wichita.

Home run power is not new for the left-handed hitter, who bashed 21 homers between Double-A Jackson and Jacksonville last year. In 315 Minor League games, he has 56 home runs.

“I was a little bit more aggressive today,” Chisholm said. “I was really tapping into driving the ball more into the rest of Spring Training.”

Finish what you start
The main takeaway for Pablo López after his spotty start on Sunday was that he didn’t finish batters the way he had hoped. The 24-year-old right-hander, expected to be one of Miami’s top three starters, worked three innings, giving up three runs on three hits with two walks, a hit batter and two strikeouts.

“If I put myself in the counts I want to be in, I have to finish,” López said.

A prime example was the first batter López faced. After getting ahead in the count at 1-2, the Miami right-hander hit Kolten Wong with a pitch. That free pass opened the door for a three-run first inning, after Tommy Edman singled and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a two-run double.

“In that first inning, I put myself in some good counts, but I lacked that finish,” López said. “I feel like the other two innings, I was able to get a little better with it. It still wasn’t 100 percent there. [I] want to be as consistent as [I] can [be] on the mound, because that’s going to help me repeat my delivery, repeat my arm slot. That helps [me] be more in the zone.”

Sánchez grinds out a single
It was one of those small victories that often don’t attract a lot of attention. But in the eighth inning, outfield prospect Jesús Sánchez grinded out a 10-pitch at-bat capped by a single to left off right-hander John Brebbia.

“That was a fun at-bat to watch,” Mattingly said. “We haven’t been able to see a lot because of the little bit delay [for Sánchez in] Spring Training.”

Sánchez, the Marlins’ No. 4 prospect, got a bit of a late start entering Spring Training because he was recovering from offseason hernia surgery.

“He’s interesting to watch,” Mattingly said. “His BPs are one way, but his games are almost better than his BPs. So you see that timing, and what goes on in a game. It’s fun to watch. He’s an interesting guy.”

Up next
The Marlins have won all four of their games with the Mets this spring. They go for No. 5 on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Right-hander Elieser Hernandez, who is competing for either a rotation or swing reliever spot, gets the start. On a back field on Monday, right-hander Jordan Yamamoto, a front-runner for the fifth spot, will pitch. Yamamoto has already faced the Mets three times this spring.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.