Inbox: What will Opening Day lineup look like?
Beat reporter Joe Frisaro fields Marlins fans' questions
MIAMI -- The Marlins' front office made some sneaky good moves this offseason, bringing in proven veterans like Jonathan Villar, Jesús Aguilar, Corey Dickerson and more to help upgrade the offense.
These three mixed in with a young core that includes Brian Anderson and Jorge Alfaro, and that should give manager Don Mattingly more options to work with.
The latest Marlins Inbox explores what Miami’s Opening Day lineup may look like and breaks down which prospects could make an impact in 2020.
What’s your Opening Day starting lineup?
Since you asked, I’ll throw in my two cents on how I feel the Opening Day lineup will shape up. The additions of Jonathan Villar and Corey Dickerson help balance the lineup since they both hit left-handed. Villar, of course, is a switch-hitter. I like the balance the lineup now has, and this should help improve run production.
Playing manager for a day, my Opening Day lineup card would be:
Jonathan Villar, 3B
Brian Anderson, RF
Corey Dickerson, LF
Jesús Aguilar, 1B
Isan Díaz, 2B
Harold Ramirez, CF
Jorge Alfaro, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Sandy Alcantara, RHP
I like the left-right balance, and I like Anderson hitting second. I know Díaz got plenty of looks in the two-hole last year. I think moving him down behind Aguilar, in the fifth spot, will give him more RBI chances and take some pressure off him. Some may wonder why Lewis Brinson isn't in center? Well, that may be how it winds up. But I feel Ramirez proved more last year, and the jury is still out on Brinson.
Is it possible that someone like Garrett Cooper or Harold Ramirez could be on the trade block due to the surplus of outfielders competing for jobs this spring?
Yes, it is possible. I’m not sure it is likely. The fact that both players still have at least one option gives the organization leverage in how it wants to manage its roster. Plus, the organization needs the depth. A year ago, 14 outfielders were used. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Ramirez is in the Opening Day lineup, as noted in the answer above. Cooper also provides depth at first base. Besides, I’m not sure what the trade value for either would be. Cooper has had a history of injuries, and Ramirez doesn’t have much experience.
Do you think Jonathan Villar will actually get substantial time in center field?
Not really. Yes, the Marlins have said Villar will move around the diamond, and he can play all three outfield spots. I see Villar mostly at third base, and perhaps second base, if Isan Díaz doesn’t win the job. Villar last played center field in 2017, appearing in just six games at the position when he was with the Brewers. He has a total of eight big league games in center. Obviously, that doesn’t mean Villar can’t play the position, but I’m sure he will have a say in whether he is comfortable out there.
Something else to consider is the new synthetic grass that will be at Marlins Park this year. No longer will the field be natural grass. Even though the new surface is expected to be top of the line, there is a risk of wear and tear on the legs of the outfielders. We’ll see if that is a factor. Plus, we have to see how the surface will play on balls that skip into the gaps. Will the surface play fast, making the position more challenging? To me, there are a lot of factors, more than just sticking a natural infielder in a premier position like center field.
Could both Monte Harrison and Jesús Sánchez make the Opening Day roster? And if so, where does Jonathan Villar play?
Let’s start with Villar. From the day he was acquired from the Orioles, the Marlins said third base is where they expect him to play most often. Sure, that might change if Brian Anderson ends up at third, instead of right field. So Villar isn’t really impacted by the projections of Harrison or Sánchez. These are two of the organization’s top five prospects (Sánchez, No. 3; Harrison No. 5), according to MLB Pipeline. I don’t see both making the Opening Day roster. Also remember: Neither has yet to reach the big leagues. Of the two, my guess is Harrison could be a more realistic candidate to win the center-field job.
Between the Big 3 in the upcoming MLB Draft -- Spencer Torkelson, Emerson Hancock or Austin Martin -- who do you feel better suits the Marlins’ long-term plans? I’d imagine they’d love Tork, especially if the designated hitter comes to the National League.
The Marlins will pick third overall in the Draft this June, and the three names you mention are certainly players that will be closely evaluated. As much hype as Torkelson, the Arizona State University first baseman, receives, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami goes with a pitcher. Hancock, the University of Georgia right-hander, may be the choice. He profiles as a top-of-the-rotation starter, and if I’m the Marlins and have a chance to acquire an ace of the future, I’m probably leaning that way. Martin is the Vanderbilt shortstop, and former teammate of JJ Bleday, Miami’s first-round pick in 2019. The Marlins appear to prefer college players over prep stars, so one of these three is possible. I give the nod to Hancock.