Where the Marlins stand two weeks from opener

July 10th, 2020

MIAMI -- A week of Summer Camp workouts is in the books, and the Marlins are now 14 sleeps away from opening the 60-game 2020 season against the Phillies on July 24 at Citizens Bank Park.

For the most part, the transition back to the playing field has gone smoothly, with Miami's players and staff adjusting to being tested for COVID-19 at least twice so far.

The daily workouts have been a gradual progression, going from light drills in small groups to playing controlled scrimmages.

Manager Don Mattingly says there is a “method to the madness” of how daily routines have been structured, often with different morning and afternoon groupings.

Activities are expected to pick up with Opening Day on the horizon.

“I’d say in the first week, we found out that the guys did some work when they were gone,” Mattingly said. “I think that made us feel good that these guys kept up with their work. Nobody came back out of shape.”

With 14 days and counting until Opening Day, here’s what we know about where the Marlins stand.

Four COVID-19 positives
Wearing masks and social distancing are just two reminders that MLB is coming back against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus far, the Marlins have had some positive COVID-19 test results.

On July 4, the club announced four unidentified players tested positive for the virus. Of the group, one positive test was found during the intake screening process in the days leading up to the start of camp. The other three had previously tested positive at least two weeks before.

Unless given permission from the affected players, the Marlins will not reveal the names of the positive cases.

Ballpark renovations
Marlins Park underwent some offseason alterations, namely replacing the natural grass with the state of the art "B1K: Batting A Thousand" turf by Shaw Sports.

Also, the outfield fences in center and right-center were adjusted. They are now 400 feet (from 407) in center and 387 feet (from 399) in right-center.

Because the turf is new, there is a breaking-in process. To keep legs fresh, practices on the surface were shorter. That is about to change in the next couple of weeks.

“I liked it,” said second baseman . “It is obviously a little bit different, compared to the grass. I think there will be some adjusting.”

Monte seizing the moment
Monte Harrison, the Marlins’ No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has certainly seized the moment of his second chance trying to make the Opening Day roster.

Harrison has been arguably the “Player of the First Week" of camp.

In late March, Harrison was optioned to Triple-A Wichita just before rosters were frozen. Now that he is part of the 60-man player pool, he is getting another opportunity, and he is making his case to perhaps be the starter in either center or right field.

Harrison crushed a long home run off in Thursday’s scrimmage.

“I love the energy that he plays with,” Mattingly said. “The confidence. He plays with that swag and that walk. He’s a guy that you look forward to cracking in here, breaking the door down, and basically showing us what he can do. I think the fans of South Florida are going to love this guy.”

Multiple roles for Villar
Barring anything unforeseen, will be the lineup's leadoff batter. That much is a given. What remains unclear is if he will start off in center field or be used regularly as a designated hitter. The Marlins also envision him playing more infield, mainly second base or shortstop.

But with projected as the regular shortstop, second could be the option if young Díaz is laboring.

“I’ll be here for every situation,” Villar said.

If Harrison wins a starting job, could perhaps play right field or be the DH.

The Marlins could also go with in left (that’s not in dispute), Harrison in center, Cooper in right and Villar as the DH.

Prospects showing promise
Harrison isn’t the only prospect standing out in Summer Camp. Outfielder Jesús Sánchez and first baseman Lewin Díaz were each brought down to Marlins Park after starting off at the facilities in Jupiter, Fla. Sánchez is ranked as Miami’s No. 4 prospect and Díaz is seventh.

The two may not be on the Opening Day roster, but playing in the big leagues this year is certainly possible.

“They wouldn’t be in this camp if we didn’t think at some point that they didn’t have a chance to help in the immediate future,” Mattingly said.