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Marlins Park to host college football game

FIU will play Miami at stadium, which sits on site of former Orange Bowl
MLB.com

MIAMI -- College football will be returning to the location of the historic Orange Bowl.

Florida International University announced it will host the University of Miami at Marlins Park on Nov. 23. Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins since it opened in 2012, is located on the grounds where the Miami Orange Bowl once stood.

MIAMI -- College football will be returning to the location of the historic Orange Bowl.

Florida International University announced it will host the University of Miami at Marlins Park on Nov. 23. Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins since it opened in 2012, is located on the grounds where the Miami Orange Bowl once stood.

"We are very excited to be able to provide our fan base and the local football fan base a marquee matchup," FIU executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia said.

Tweet from @FIUFootball: Today was an exciting day to be a @FIUFootball fan! #PawsUp 🐾 | #PantherPride pic.twitter.com/jwEhX3oNNP

Marlins Park has been the site of college football in the past, hosting the Miami Beach Bowl from 2014-16.

With a football capacity expected to be around 40,000, FIU said that the only way to guarantee a ticket for the game is by purchasing or renewing season tickets for its 2019 football season.

FIU and Miami renewed their football rivalry in 2018, playing at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Hurricanes.

The Miami Orange Bowl opened in 1937 as Burdine Stadium before being renamed in '59. It was the home of the Miami Hurricanes (until 2007) and Miami Dolphins (until 1986), as well as the annual Orange Bowl game and five Super Bowls.

FIU is coached by Butch Davis, a former UM coach. The Hurricanes are coached by Manny Diaz.

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

Miami Marlins

Around the Horn: Infield

Options aplenty for Marlins with Castro, Prado leading charge
MLB.com

With Spring Training approaching and pitchers and catchers beginning their workouts on Feb. 13 (with position players following on Feb. 18), MLB.com is posting a series of position-by-position breakdowns leading into camp. Up next: the infield.

MIAMI -- Perhaps the area on the Marlins' roster with the most certainty is the infield, but it's also a unit that may require the most flexibility.

With Spring Training approaching and pitchers and catchers beginning their workouts on Feb. 13 (with position players following on Feb. 18), MLB.com is posting a series of position-by-position breakdowns leading into camp. Up next: the infield.

MIAMI -- Perhaps the area on the Marlins' roster with the most certainty is the infield, but it's also a unit that may require the most flexibility.

When Spring Training gets underway next month, manager Don Mattingly will have a pretty good idea of his options for all four infield spots. He just may be rotating players in and out -- sometimes on a daily basis -- getting the right matchups.

MLB.com breaks down the biggest questions and leading candidates to secure the infield spots.

Still up in the air: Who plays first?
First base was the biggest question entering the offseason for Miami, and it remains unsettled. There's still time to make a roster move, such as a free-agent signing or an addition via a trade.

Until then, Peter O'Brien is the leading candidate to handle the position when Spring Training opens. A Miami native, and right-handed-hitting power threat, O'Brien made a strong impression as a September callup in 2018, belting four home runs and driving in 10 runs, while hitting .273/.338/.530.

Video: MIA@NYM: O'Brien smacks a solo home run to right

O'Brien also checks off some boxes in terms of hard contact rates. According to Statcast™, his average exit velocity of balls put in play is 92.1 mph, and his average launch angle is 16.5 degrees. Both figures are well above the league average.

On the flip side, the 28-year-old had not appeared in the Majors since 2016 with the D-backs, and he's struggled throughout his professional career making consistent contact.

Garrett Cooper, who was the Opening Day starter in right field for the Marlins last year, appeared in just 14 games all season due to a right wrist injury, which led to surgery. Cooper took batting practice on the field this week at the organization's hitters camp and will also get a shot to play first base regularly.

Is Castro on the trading block?
Barring being dealt before camp opens, Starlin Castro is expected back at second base. The four-time All-Star had a productive 2018 in his first season with the organization, posting a slash line of .278/.329/.400, with 12 home runs, 32 doubles and 54 RBIs.

The Marlins are open to dealing Castro, who is in the final season of his contract with a $16 million team option looming in 2020 (along with a $1 million buyout). But his $11 million salary for 2019 has reduced his trade value. A more realistic timetable to move Castro is around the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Splitting time at shortstop?
Miguel Rojas made a case to be the everyday shortstop last year, appearing in a career-high 153 games. But it's likely Rojas will once again share the position with JT Riddle, who is projected to be the lone left-handed-hitting regular currently on the roster.

Rojas is also the most versatile player on the roster, capable of being a plus defender at shortstop, third, second and first base. Rojas started 78 games at short last year, and he was also the primary late-inning defensive replacement at first base.

Video: ATL@MIA: Riddle, Rojas turn 6-4-3 double play in 2nd

Riddle opened 2018 on the disabled list as he recovered from the right shoulder surgery that he underwent in 2017. The 27-year-old appeared in 102 games last year and had his ups and downs, batting .231/.277/.377 with nine home runs, 10 doubles, four triples and 36 RBIs. This is a big season for Riddle to see if he can be counted on as a productive regular.

Stability at third base
Brian Anderson is generally regarded as the third baseman of the future, yet the 25-year-old might wind up in right field. A year ago, Anderson played 71 games at third base, compared to 91 in right field. The status of Martin Prado, and how the outfield shapes up, will determine what position Anderson mostly plays.

Due to hamstring, knee and oblique injuries, Prado played in just 54 games a year ago. If he is healthy, the veteran could handle third base more regularly, meaning Anderson could wind up in right. Foremost, Prado has to establish health.

Prospect watch
Isan Diaz is getting closer to being big league ready, and he perhaps could take over at second base around June or July. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 9 prospect, Diaz is a left-handed hitter who spent last season at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans, where at age 22, he combined to hit .232 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs.

Diaz projects to start off 2019 at New Orleans.

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

Miami Marlins, Starlin Castro

Marlins prospect Harrison can relate to Murray

Outfielder who chose baseball over football in '14 weighs in on OU's two-sport star
MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Football, baseball or both?

When deciding his career path in 2014, Marlins outfield prospect Monte Harrison found himself in a similar situation to what Kyler Murray is going through. Harrison is familiar with having to give up one sport for the other.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Football, baseball or both?

When deciding his career path in 2014, Marlins outfield prospect Monte Harrison found himself in a similar situation to what Kyler Murray is going through. Harrison is familiar with having to give up one sport for the other.

Murray, the A's first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, announced on Monday that he will be entering the 2019 NFL Draft, while leaving the door open to try to play baseball. Harrison is aware of the complications, but in the end he boiled it down to one key element.

Video: Kyler Murray declares for the upcoming NFL Draft

"What's his love? At the end of the day, he's going to do what makes him happy," said Harrison, the Marlins' No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "I know there is a lot of money and stuff like that involved."

Coming out of Lee's Summit (Mo.) West High School in 2014, Harrison was prepared to give football and baseball a shot at the University of Nebraska. Those plans changed that summer when the Brewers selected him in the second round and signed the power-hitting outfielder to play baseball exclusively.

"For me personally, I chose something that I love," Harrison said. "Whatever direction it was going to go, things were going to happen. [Murray is] in a very tough situation. Good luck to him as he goes through that. Hopefully, I can see him in a baseball uniform. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months or so."

Harrison keeps tabs on two-sport athletes, and he was aware of Murray for years.

"Yeah, I definitely watched him," Harrison said. "I knew about him in high school. There's not much you can really say about him. Look at the athlete he is. He kind of makes me wonder, 'Dang, maybe if I went to college ... .' It will be interesting to see what happens to him. He seems like a good dude. I've heard some things about him. Just the talent on the field is amazing."

If Murray decides to play both football and baseball, that's a workload Harrison right now says he wouldn't want to handle.

"Now? No," he said. "I was talking to somebody about this the other day. I can't imagine going to school, playing football and baseball. I'm not going to have a social life. I mean, you still have to have things that are outside the sports world. I can't imagine playing two sports right now."

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

Miami Marlins, Monte Harrison

First Spring Training workout dates for all clubs

MLB.com

Major League Baseball has revealed the first Spring Training workout dates for pitchers and catchers and those for the full squads for all 30 clubs. MLB also announced game times for all Cactus and Grapefruit League action in February and March.

Major League Baseball has revealed the first Spring Training workout dates for pitchers and catchers and those for the full squads for all 30 clubs. MLB also announced game times for all Cactus and Grapefruit League action in February and March.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The A's, fresh off their surprise run to the 2018 American League Wild Card Game, will be the first club to have its pitchers and catchers report. They'll do so on Monday, Feb. 11, followed by the Indians and Mariners on Feb. 12 and the remainder of MLB clubs in the days following. Oakland and Seattle will travel to Tokyo to stage two exhibition games each against Japanese teams on March 17-18, followed by the first two games of the 2019 regular season on March 20-21 at Tokyo Dome.

Complete Spring Training schedule

Oakland and Seattle will hold their first full-squad workouts on Saturday, Feb. 16, in Arizona, with the rest of MLB following suit in the days after. The Braves will be the last club to hold its first full-squad workout, doing so on Thursday, Feb. 21. The A's and Mariners open Cactus League action with a matchup on Feb. 21, and the Rays and Phillies open up Grapefruit League action the following day. The Red Sox and Tigers will play exhibition games against college teams on Feb. 22.

Here are first-workout dates for pitchers and catchers and full squads for each team:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Angels: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Astros: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Athletics: Feb. 11/Feb. 16
Blue Jays: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Indians: Feb. 12/Feb. 18
Mariners: Feb. 12/Feb. 16
Orioles: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rangers: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rays: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Red Sox: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Royals: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Tigers: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Twins: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
White Sox: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Yankees: Feb. 14/Feb. 19

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Braves: Feb. 16/Feb. 21
Brewers: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Cardinals: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Cubs: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Diamondbacks: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Dodgers: Feb. 13/Feb. 19
Giants: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Marlins: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Mets: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Nationals: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Padres: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Phillies: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Pirates: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Reds: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rockies: Feb. 13/Feb. 18

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

The MLB.com Hall of Fame ballot results are ...

MLB.com

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

As many as four candidates -- and possibly more -- could be elected, according to the public ballots amassed online. Here's a look at how the six voted, and at the bottom you can see what the totals look like among this group:

T.R. Sullivan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker
10. Michael Young

There are many offensive players who could/should be elected based on their career numbers. I strongly believe McGriff is unfairly overlooked because he was one of the last great hitters before the offensive explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mussina also thrived as a starting pitcher in the American League right in the thick of that era. It should not have taken him this long to be elected. I'm not big on comparables, but Wagner was every bit as good of a reliever as Rivera or Trevor Hoffman.

Video: MLB Tonight on Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame case

Mark Feinsand
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Manny Ramirez
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Gary Sheffield
10. Omar Vizquel

Three of the players I voted for a year ago -- Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome -- were inducted into the Hall, so the holdovers (Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, Mussina, Manny, Schilling and Sheffield) took up the first seven spots on my ballot.

That left me with up to three open spots to fill. Rivera was an obvious choice for one of them in his first time on the ballot, as was Halladay, who, despite a modest win total (203), was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. Although I delved into their statistics to confirm what I already knew, these two were no-brainers.

Video: Roy Halladay's case for the Hall of Fame

The final spot was a little more difficult. After a first examination of the 26 players, I narrowed down my choice to Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte, Scott Rolen, Vizquel, Larry Walker and Vernon Wells. (OK, Wells wasn't really on my list, but he was one of my favorite players I ever covered, so I considered using my last spot for him for about 30 seconds.)

Although I probably would have voted for five or six of these players had the ballot been open-ended and without the 10-man limit, my choice ultimately came down to two: Pettitte and Vizquel.

Pettitte is viewed by many as a borderline candidate, a take I can't argue with. While his candidacy might be seen differently by voters, I think he belongs in the conversation. (Based on my voting history, I'm obviously not holding his HGH admission against him.) Having seen similar players such as Jorge Posada, Kenny Lofton and Johan Santana fall off the ballot in their first years, I considered voting for Pettitte in an effort to help him get the requisite 5 percent for him to be on the ballot again next year.

Ultimately, Vizquel's excellence in the field (he took home 11 Gold Gloves and is in the conversation as the best defensive shortstop ever) won out. He might not have been an offensive force, but Vizquel was far from an automatic out, finishing his career with 2,877 hits. Pettitte had a great career and will likely be in the mix for my vote again next year, but my belief that Vizquel should be in the Hall outweighed my hopes of seeing Pettitte remain on the ballot.

Jeffrey Flanagan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Andruw Jones
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Manny Ramirez
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

It was difficult leaving off McGriff and Rolen, but we only get 10 spots, which is why I've always favored a binary system -- simply yes or no to each candidate. As for the PED issue, my stance hasn't really changed: If what they did (or didn't) do is so egregious, the Hall of Fame should take those players off the ballot. Don't make us be the morality judges.

Video: MLB Network debates Bonds, Clemens' merits for HOF

Richard Justice
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Mariano Rivera
7. Scott Rolen
8. Curt Schilling
9. Billy Wagner
10. Larry Walker

Easy calls on nine of the 10. All belong in the Hall. As for Wagner, he's one of greatest closers ever, and if they're part of the game (same for DHs), the best of them should be in the Hall. I didn't like leaving off Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield, who at least deserve to be in the conversation longer.

Jon Paul Morosi
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Scott Rolen
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

I voted for Bonds and Clemens, as I have every year. For now, at least, my policy regarding players tied to PED use remains unchanged: I do not vote for players suspended under MLB's drug policy from 2005 to present, but I support the best all-around players from the complicated era that preceded it.

Rivera is one of the clearest first-ballot Hall of Famers in history, and Halladay's dominant peak (in a hitter-friendly ballpark, against AL East competition) makes him worthy of the Hall. McGriff, overlooked for far too long, hit more home runs -- with a better adjusted OPS -- than first-ballot Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Carl Yastrzemski; McGriff is eminently qualified for Cooperstown.

My toughest decision came among Rolen, Vizquel and Sheffield for the last of my 10 spots. I opted for Rolen, given the overall quality of his career, at a position underrepresented in the Hall. Rolen is one of only three third basemen in history with at least seven Gold Gloves and seven All-Star appearances. The others are Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Video: MLB Network on Edgar Martinez's case for the HOF

Chris Haft
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Jeff Kent
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

Rivera's career forestalls debate. And if you feel free to vote for closers, you should feel free to vote for other specialists, such as Martinez the designated hitter. I dismounted my moral high horse regarding Bonds and Clemens two or three years ago. I needed some persuasion to vote for Walker; by contrast, I remained stubbornly loyal to Kent. Mussina embodied consistency; Schilling dominated the postseason and Halladay finished 98 games above .500 in just 390 starts. As for Vizquel, I pity those who can't or won't comprehend his excellence.

Vote totals of the 6 MLB.com writers

With 75 percent of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Martinez, Rivera, Mussina, Clemens, Halladay, Schilling and Walker received enough support -- the first six appearing on all six ballots, and the other two appearing on five of six ballots (83 percent) -- from MLB.com writers.

Barry Bonds -- 6 votes
Roger Clemens -- 6
Roy Halladay -- 6
Edgar Martinez -- 6
Mike Mussina -- 6
Mariano Rivera -- 6
Curt Schilling -- 5
Larry Walker -- 5
Fred McGriff -- 2
Manny Ramirez -- 2
Scott Rolen -- 2
Omar Vizquel -- 2
Billy Wagner -- 2
Andruw Jones -- 1
Jeff Kent -- 1
Gary Sheffield -- 1
Michael Young -- 1

Miami flavor highlights new food at Marlins Park

MLB.com

MIAMI -- Dining at Marlins Park in 2019 will have a Miami flavor.

The Marlins on Tuesday announced the additions of new food partners with local appeal as part of their ballpark enhancements for the upcoming season.

MIAMI -- Dining at Marlins Park in 2019 will have a Miami flavor.

The Marlins on Tuesday announced the additions of new food partners with local appeal as part of their ballpark enhancements for the upcoming season.

The Marlins are teaming up with Miami's Best Pizza, PINCHO, Novecento, SuViche and two concepts by Jose Andres' ThinkFoodGroup -- Butterfly Tacos y Tortas and La Pepa.

"It is important for us to continue to invest in creating a first-class fan experience at Marlins Park, and the addition of these well-respected partners with great Miami stories is another essential step in that process," Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter said in a statement. "The re-imagined concessions, representative of our community's rich culinary scene, as well as the enhanced premium experience in The Club presented by DEX Imaging will offer our guests fresh and unique experiences."

In their second season of owning the franchise, the group led by Bruce Sherman and Jeter has made a series of ballpark enhancements since the 2018 season ended. Among them has been updating the Diamond Club behind home plate, which is now The Club presented by DEX Imaging.

A multitiered party deck has been added in center field, and a standing room only section will be down the right-field line.

In 2019, Marlins Park will serve as the exclusive South Florida professional sports venue to host La Pepa, Butterfly Tacos y Tortas, Novecento and Miami's Best Pizza. The ballpark will also showcase unique menu items and activations via new partnerships with PINCHO and SuViche.

The five new partner brand concession locations for the upcoming season are part of a full reconception and reposition of the Promenade Level food and beverage experience by the Marlins and hospitality partner Levy.

"As we continue to look for ways to impact and enhance the fan experience at Marlins Park, we sought a dining experience authentic to Miami with brands who share our same commitment to the South Florida community," Marlins president of business operations Chip Bowers said in a statement. "We are elevating the food and beverage experience to feature a diverse array of concepts that are reflective of our ever-evolving community. Fans will notice their feedback was heard and will see an increase in the quality and variety of flavors, concepts, and food and beverage-centric experiences available to them throughout the ballpark."

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

Miami Marlins

Top prospect Mesa making strong impression

Nine Minor Leaguers taking part in three-day hitting camp
MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- After months of training and conditioning, Marlins top prospect Victor Victor Mesa took some swings Monday on the main field at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. The 22-year-old outfielder from Cuba made a strong first impression.

Mesa was one of nine hitting prospects invited to a three-day camp, which is being supervised by Gary Denbo, Miami's vice president of player development and scouting.

JUPITER, Fla. -- After months of training and conditioning, Marlins top prospect Victor Victor Mesa took some swings Monday on the main field at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. The 22-year-old outfielder from Cuba made a strong first impression.

Mesa was one of nine hitting prospects invited to a three-day camp, which is being supervised by Gary Denbo, Miami's vice president of player development and scouting.

"He's in great shape," Denbo said of Mesa. "He had a great BP. The tools that he brings to the table are obvious. He's very serious about his work. He's done a lot of work with his trainers. It's obvious the work he's done has prepared him for Spring Training."

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, Mesa was rated as the top international prospect when he signed along with his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., in October.

Since joining the Marlins, Mesa and his 17-year-old brother have trained together. But they didn't participate in winter ball, and they haven't seen organized game action since defecting from Cuba.

"I feel very anxious," Mesa said through an interpreter. "After all, what makes a player a player is the game. I'm looking forward to doing that."

Tweet from @VictorMesaRios1: Clutching 🧨🏋���������🤸���������#vmjr10 #thechosenone #justgettinstarted #marlins pic.twitter.com/4s0zHnQAB8

The elder Mesa will be a non-roster invitee when the Marlins open Spring Training with pitchers and catchers workouts on Feb. 13 in Jupiter. Full-squad drills get underway five days later.

The Marlins plan on giving Mesa plenty of at-bats in the spring. To expedite the process, Mesa -- as well as other hitters -- will spend time in the bullpen tracking pitches when they aren't playing.

When the season opens, Mesa likely will start off either at Class A Advanced Jupiter or Double-A Jacksonville.

Mesa understands he carries high expectations, especially being a promising star from Cuba living in Miami, which has a large Cuban population.

"I enjoy the Cuban community, it's one of the things I enjoy the most," Mesa said of South Florida. "But also I feel the pressure. They're expecting a lot from me. I want to work with the Marlins' organization, work and try to make everything they expect from me happen."

Video: Frisaro on meaning of Marlins signing Mesa brothers

Because this is his first season of professional baseball in the United States, and the fact he is not on the 40-man roster, Mesa isn't expected to be with the Marlins on Opening Day. Still, it will be a big Spring Training for him to showcase his talents to the organization and big league staff.

"There is great expectations, but I'm just going to focus on working hard, getting better," Mesa said. "I'm going to start knowing everybody in the organization, and going from there."

Among the hitting prospects at the camp were Mesa, Mesa Jr., No. 2 prospect Monte Harrison, infielders Joe Dunand (No. 23), James Nelson (No. 15), Justin Twine and Riley Mahan (No. 26) and outfielders Corey Bird and Milton Smith Jr.

Marlins hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo, assistant hitting coach Jeff Livesey and new Minor League hitting coordinator Eric Duncan are among the instructors at the camp.

This marks the third camp for hitters the Marlins have held in the offseason but the first with the Mesa brothers in attendance.

The elder Mesa is wearing No. 32, the number his father, Victor Mesa Sr., wore during his playing days in Cuba.

"He's got speed. He can fly in the outfield," Denbo said. "His defensive abilities are very good. His throwing arm is very good. We think he's going to hit for a high average. What remains to be seen is if he hits for power or not.

"With that being said, with all that tool package, he's got limited experience in professional baseball. So he's got some work to do. It isn't easy to get to the Major League level. It's even more difficult to stay at the Major League level."

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

Miami Marlins, Victor Victor Mesa

Inbox: Does Guzman project as closer or starter?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Marlins fans
MLB.com

Do you think Jorge Guzman can be a future closer for the Marlins? Or do you prefer him to be a starter?
-- @antonioadolfo6

That's an easy one. Of course, the preference is for Guzman to be a starter. But if he isn't able to command his fastball to both sides of the plate, then his future may ultimately be as a reliever. The Marlins acquired Guzman, their No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, from the Yankees in December 2017 as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade.

Do you think Jorge Guzman can be a future closer for the Marlins? Or do you prefer him to be a starter?
-- @antonioadolfo6

That's an easy one. Of course, the preference is for Guzman to be a starter. But if he isn't able to command his fastball to both sides of the plate, then his future may ultimately be as a reliever. The Marlins acquired Guzman, their No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, from the Yankees in December 2017 as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade.

The flamethrower spent the entire 2018 season at Class A Advanced Jupiter, where his velocity maxed at 101 mph. Guzman is a physical presence, who also is polishing up his slider and changeup. The Marlins added the 22-year-old right-hander to their 40-man roster in the offseason, and he is expected to start off at Double-A Jacksonville, where he will be in the rotation. This season will give a better indication of whether Guzman profiles as a future option for the rotation. If he moves to the bullpen, whether he becomes a closer or not will depend on how effective he is at missing bats. To close, you need swing-and-miss pitches.

:: Submit a question to the Marlins Inbox ::

Which teams are still interested in Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto?
-- @nynfa711

The landscape changed in recent days with Yasmani Grandal reportedly reaching agreement on a one-year deal with the Brewers. With Grandal no longer an option to return, the Dodgers are in the market for a front-line catcher, and they have the prospects and need to make a strong push for Realmuto. I'm hearing, in no particular order, the Dodgers, Braves, Astros, Padres, Reds and Rays have expressed the most interest in Realmuto. The Marlins' firm stance has not changed. They seek an overpay situation: a top prospect and more.

Realmuto agreed to a $5.9 million deal in his second season of arbitration, which is another reason the Marlins have insisted they have no urgency to deal their best player. Along with Realmuto, right-handers Jose Urena and Dan Straily, lefty Adam Conley and infielder Miguel Rojas avoided arbitration.

It's also important to note that if Miami does trade Realmuto, the club would then have to address its catcher situation by finding another option who has big league experience to work with a young pitching staff.

Do you think Starlin Castro will get traded this offseason to make room for Isan Diaz?
-- @josecuba305

The Marlins are open to trading Castro, but the second-base market had been slow moving until recent reports regarding Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie and DJ LeMahieu. Teams also are reluctant to take on the $11 million Castro will make this season, and his deal has a club option of $16 million for 2020, with a $1 million buyout. The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline may realistically be a time when teams are more receptive to trading for Castro. As for Diaz, the 22-year-old left-handed hitter is considered the second baseman of the future. I suspect Diaz will open at Triple-A New Orleans, and how he performs will also determine how quickly he reaches the big leagues. If Diaz shows he can hit, Miami would find a place for its No. 9 prospect to play in the big leagues. He did play some third base in the offseason, but the hope is for him to be at second.

What are your thoughts on one of the Marlins' newest additions, Rosell Herrera? Do you think he makes the Opening Day roster?
-- @kevinmiller64__

The Marlins claimed Herrera off waivers from the Royals recently and added him to the 40-man roster, which gives him somewhat of an advantage to make the Opening Day roster, most likely as a utility player. The 26-year-old switch-hitter saw action in the big leagues in 2018 with the Reds and Royals, combining to hit .234/.286/.317. Herrera can play all three outfield positions, second base and third base. He came up as a shortstop and has good speed, but Herrera isn't a power threat..

Besides Realmuto, are there any possible trade candidates on this roster before the start of the season?
-- @ProfessorXXX88

Realmuto has taken up so much of the Marlins' offseason, and whether he stays or goes impacts other positions. For instance, Miami may be more inclined to trade for a first baseman rather than sign a free agent on what would most likely be a one-year deal.

Marlins' trade candidates not named Realmuto

A pitcher who could be dealt by the Marlins before Spring Training is Straily, the projected No. 2 starter. Clubs have touched base this offseason on Straily, who was in his second year of arbitration eligibility. If something makes sense, Straily could be moved.

A number of teams have checked in on Urena, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time. But Urena may be the closest player Miami has to being untouchable. The way its roster is presently constructed, Urena is a workhorse who can give the club 30 starts and about 180 innings. I could see July as a more likely window for Urena to be moved.

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

Miami Marlins, Starlin Castro, Isan Diaz, Jorge Guzman, Rosell Herrera, J.T. Realmuto, Dan Straily, Jose Urena

1 per team: Players who could stay put until 2025

MLB.com

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, C
Unlike Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette, he's already on the 40-man roster; he hit three homers in 81 at-bats last season. Like them, he's currently a top-75 prospect.

Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF
The toughest call on the board. The Orioles are starting over in every conceivable way, and there will be a lot of turnover here in the next few years. The guess here is Mancini, who is a fan favorite already and could maybe hang around long enough to be a platoon or bench bat in 2025, when he'll be only 32.

Rays: Willy Adames, SS
Attempting to guess who will be on the Rays' roster in two years, let alone six, is a fool's errand, but Adames is the centerpiece of everything the Rays are going to be trying to do over the next decade.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts, OF
He's a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox should never let a star like this get away. And he wants to stay

Video: Betts signs record deal to avoid arbitration

Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, RF
As the guy who is signed through 2027, he's the obvious pick here. Aaron Judge hits free agency in 2023, by the way.

CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
It's tough to imagine the Indians letting Lindor go … though they may have to choose between him and Jose Ramirez.

Video: Lindor gets his second career Silver Slugger Award

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
He survived the last teardown. He's their Yadier Molina -- he'll survive any future ones.

Tigers: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
He's more likely than anyone else here to be a member of the next contending Tigers team.

Twins: Max Kepler, OF
Kepler feels like the type of player the Twins would come to some sort of modest, Paul DeJong-esque extension with, doesn't he?

White Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B
With any luck, Eloy Jimenez will be there right alongside him.

WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, OF
Put it this way: If Mike Trout isn't on the 2025 Angels, everything about that franchise is radically different than it is right now.

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
Alex Bregman seems like the most likely extension candidate -- Altuve's deal runs out after the 2024 season -- but the Altuve-Astros relationship feels like one that shouldn't be broken.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
The ideal extension candidate, Chapman could be the face of the franchise whenever it moves into its new digs.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield, LHP
He made his debut in September, so he's on the Mariners' 40-man, even if he might not start the season in the Majors.

Rangers: Rougned Odor, 2B
He, Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo will be free agents following the 2022 season. Here's betting Odor is the one who sticks around, if anybody does.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
He'll actually reach free agency after the 2024 season, if you are counting the days. (That's to say: If you're every other team in baseball.)

Video: Snitker on best lineup spot for Acuna Jr. in 2019

Marlins: Lewis Brinson, OF
Considering he remains the primary haul from their trades last offseason, Brinson will get every possible opportunity to prove himself.

Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF
Though maybe only because first base slugging prospect Peter Alonso isn't on the 40-man yet.

Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
If the Nationals don't extend him, he'll hit the free-agent market with Acuna.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
This answer could very well change depending on how free agency shakes out this offseason.

CENTRAL

Brewers: Josh Hader, LHP
Yes, yes, he's a reliever, but still: He seems like one of the few relievers on earth worthy of talking long-term, under-market extension with, yes?

Cardinals: Paul DeJong, SS
The extension he signed last year gives the Cardinals team options on him in both 2024 and '25, and if he keeps playing like he has been, they'll happily pick them both up. (It's also possible the answer here is Yadier Molina, and may be through 2035.)

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B
This will be the most-watched are-they-gonna-extend-him-soon? story in baseball over the next couple of years.

Video: Kris Bryant is the No. 8 third baseman right now

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
He's already on the 40-man, and he might be the best pitcher in an already underrated rotation by season's end.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, 3B
He's signed through 2024, and the Reds have a club option on him for '25. Also, top prospect Nick Senzel isn't on the 40-man yet.

WEST

D-backs: Ketel Marte, SS
He's already got options for 2023 and '24, and he'll just be into his 30s when the D-backs have to make their next decision on him. Newly acquired catcher Carson Kelly could be the answer here as well.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Isn't right now the perfect time to start talking extension with Seager?

Giants: Buster Posey, C
As long as Posey is still playing, he'll be a Giant … right, Farhan?

Padres: Franmil Reyes, OF
It's tough to even imagine this kid being 30 someday.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
They did a mega-extension with Charlie Blackmon last offseason, so they are clearly willing to go that route. Arenado is eligible for free agency next winter, so we'll find out his long-term fate pretty soon.

Video: Arenado seeks record $30 million in arbitration

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Marlins avoid arbitration with Realmuto, 4 others

MLB.com

MIAMI -- The Marlins took care of some significant in-house business on Friday, locking up all five of their arbitration-eligible players, headlined by All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who will make $5.9 million in 2019.

Along with Realmuto, Miami also came to terms on one-year deals with right-handers Dan Straily ($5 million) and Jose Urena ($3.2 million), left-hander Adam Conley ($1.125 million) and infielder Miguel Rojas ($3.155 million).

MIAMI -- The Marlins took care of some significant in-house business on Friday, locking up all five of their arbitration-eligible players, headlined by All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who will make $5.9 million in 2019.

Along with Realmuto, Miami also came to terms on one-year deals with right-handers Dan Straily ($5 million) and Jose Urena ($3.2 million), left-hander Adam Conley ($1.125 million) and infielder Miguel Rojas ($3.155 million).

MLB.com confirmed all five salaries, which combine to add $18.38 million to Miami's overall payroll, expected to be about $100 million.

Hot Stove Tracker

All Major League teams faced a 1 p.m. ET salary exchange deadline on Friday to get their arbitration players under contract for the upcoming season.

By avoiding arbitration with their eligible players, the Marlins keep clear of the unpleasant practice of having player salaries settled by an arbitration panel prior to the start of Spring Training.

The Marlins traditionally have been a "file and trial" club, meaning if it didn't reach agreement with a player by the salary exchange deadline, it ceased negotiations and settled the salary discrepancy at an arbitration hearing.

Essentially, "file and trial" clubs treat the exchange date as a hard deadline. Technically, teams and players can still negotiate up until the arbitration hearing begins. But the Marlins typically don't do that.

The only exception to the Marlins' policy is if they discuss a multiyear contract with a player, not a one-year deal. Miami did just that with former left-handed reliever Mike Dunn, who avoided arbitration by signing a two-year, $5.8 million contract in 2015.

Last offseason, Realmuto's salary was settled at an arbitration hearing. Miami won the case, and the backstop made $2.9 million.

Video: Marlins continue to entertain Realmuto trade offers

While the Marlins have treated the arbitration process as business as usual, they continue to explore trade possibilities for the 27-year-old Realmuto. Six clubs have been in substantive talks for him: the Dodgers, Braves, Astros, Rays, Reds and Padres.

On a team that finished 63-98, Realmuto emerged as a leader and the top player. He also established himself, at least statistically, as one of -- if not the best -- catcher in the Majors.

In 2018, Realmuto's slash line was .277/.340/.484 with career highs for home runs (21) and RBIs (74), plus 30 doubles. Realmuto started off last year on the disabled list due to a lower back contusion, and he appeared in 125 games. In 2017, Realmuto played in 141 games.

Straily was also in his second season of arbitration after making $3.375 million in 2018. The 30-year-old right-hander has been durable in recent years, but in 2018, he opened the season on the DL with a right forearm strain. In September, he was shut down due to a left oblique strain.

Video: TOR@MIA: Straily K's 4 in a stellar 8-inning outing

Straily went 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 starts spanning 122 1/3 innings in 2018 after logging 181 2/3 frames in his first season with the Marlins. In '16, Straily pitched in a career-high 191 1/3 innings for the Reds.

Urena, who has emerged as the ace of the staff, was in arbitration for the first time, as was Conley, who transitioned to a relief role after breaking in as a starter.

Video: MIA@NYM: Urena tosses 6 innings of one-run ball

Urena finished 9-12 with a 3.98 ERA in 31 starts over 174 innings. The 27-year-old right-hander has been a workhorse for the club, compiling 169 2/3 innings in 2017.

Conley appeared in 52 games, threw 50 2/3 innings and struck out 50 batters as the primary left-hander in the bullpen. The 28-year-old southpaw added three saves, and he is expected to get some chances to close, based on matchups.

Video: WSH@MIA: Conley retires Wieters, gets save in 8-5 win

Rojas enjoyed his most productive big league season in 2018, establishing career highs for games (153), at-bats (488), home runs (11) and RBIs (53). One of the most versatile players on the team, the 29-year-old projects to split time again at shortstop with JT Riddle.

Rojas, who was in his second year of arbitration after making $1.18 million a year ago, is an option to play third base and second; he has also been a defensive replacement at first base.

Video: Rojas discusses becoming a veteran leader for Marlins

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

Miami Marlins, Adam Conley, J.T. Realmuto, Miguel Rojas, Dan Straily, Jose Urena

Source: 6 clubs are front-runners for Realmuto

Marlins engaged in talks with Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays, Reds
MLB.com

MIAMI -- J.T. Realmuto trade talks are once again picking up, as the Marlins are engaged in substantive discussions with six clubs.

According to a source, the Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays and Reds are considered the front-runners to acquire Realmuto. As it's been all offseason, the Marlins' asking price remains extremely high.

MIAMI -- J.T. Realmuto trade talks are once again picking up, as the Marlins are engaged in substantive discussions with six clubs.

According to a source, the Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays and Reds are considered the front-runners to acquire Realmuto. As it's been all offseason, the Marlins' asking price remains extremely high.

In return, Miami seeks a top prospect and more. In some cases, it would like a catcher with some big league experience to work with a young pitching staff.

Now that free agent Yasmani Grandal has reportedly reached an agreement with the Brewers on a one-year, $18.25 million deal, Realmuto is the top catcher on the market. Grandal's departure creates a vacancy behind the plate for the Dodgers, who have been in on-and-off discussions for Realmuto for months.

Realmuto is entering his second season of arbitration, and the Marlins haven't ruled out retaining their best player if their trade demands aren't met.

Video: What are the possible landing spots for Realmuto?

As Miami explores trade options for Realmuto, the club is also moving forward on trying to sign its arbitration-eligible players for the 2019 season. The arbitration deadline is 1 p.m. ET on Friday, meaning qualifying players must sign for the upcoming season or risk having their salaries set by an arbitration panel at a date before Spring Training begins.

The Marlins have five arbitration-eligible players -- Realmuto, right-handers Jose Urena and Dan Straily, left-hander Adam Conley and infielder Miguel Rojas.

Realmuto's arbitration situation does not impact whether he will be traded before Spring Training opens, with pitchers and catchers beginning their workouts on Feb. 13 at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter.

Realmuto is coming off his best season, during which he batted .277 with a .340 on-base percentage and set career highs for home runs (21) and RBIs (74).

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

Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto

Around the Horn: Starting rotation

Marlins' staff headlined by veterans Urena, Straily and Chen
MLB.com

With Spring Training approaching and pitchers and catchers beginning their workouts on Feb. 13, MLB.com is posting a series of position-by-position breakdowns leading into camp. Up first: the rotation.

MIAMI -- How the Marlins' rotation shapes up will largely dictate how long the rebuilding process will last.

With Spring Training approaching and pitchers and catchers beginning their workouts on Feb. 13, MLB.com is posting a series of position-by-position breakdowns leading into camp. Up first: the rotation.

MIAMI -- How the Marlins' rotation shapes up will largely dictate how long the rebuilding process will last.

In recent years, through trades and developing homegrown talent, Miami has assembled some interesting and promising starting pitchers who are either on the big league roster or on the cusp of being Major League-ready.

To assist their development is new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who was previously with the Mariners and has a track record of producing strike-throwers.

There's plenty of work ahead. In 2018, Marlins starters ranked 20th in the Majors in ERA (4.34), 24th in innings pitched (835 2/3), 21st in strikeouts (712) and sixth in walks (326).

The ace
For the second straight year, it promises to be hard-throwing right-hander Jose Urena. The 27-year-old rebounded nicely in 2018, finishing with a 9-12 record and a 3.98 ERA on a team that lost 98 games. Urena made a strong impression in September, going 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA. Barring something unforeseen, he should again get the nod from manager Don Mattingly to start on Opening Day.

Projected five
Behind Urena are veteran right-hander Dan Straily and lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who will be counted on to log innings and keep the team in games. A couple of rookies in 2018 -- Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Richards -- also may have the inside edge to secure the fourth and fifth spots.

Video: MIA@PIT: Straily strikes out Bell, side in 4th

Straily looks to bounce back from a couple of injuries that sidetracked him at the beginning and end of 2018. The 30-year-old right-hander made 23 starts, and he went 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA. He has a history of durability.

Chen had a baffling 2018, going 6-12 with a 4.79 ERA. His home/road splits were particularly perplexing. At Marlins Park, the 33-year-old had an eye-opening 1.62 ERA in 13 starts. On the road, it was a different story -- his ERA was a whopping 9.27.

Alcantara, the hard-throwing 23-year-old, showed promise in six big league starts (3.44 ERA) after spending much of the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

Richards was a pleasant surprise, posting a 4.42 ERA in 25 big league starts while sporting a plus changeup. Hitters averaged .165 off that pitch.

On the mend
Right-hander Pablo Lopez missed the final month of last season due to a right hand strain, and left-hander Caleb Smith underwent surgery to repair a torn left lat muscle, incurred in a start on June 24 against the Rockies. If both are healthy, they could win spots in the Opening Day rotation. First, they have to establish their health and show they are sharp enough to be ready when the regular season begins.

Video: NYY@MIA: Lopez tosses 6 innings of 1-run ball

In the mix
Alongside Lopez and Smith are right-handers Elieser Hernandez, Jeff Brigham and Merandy Gonzalez. All three pitched in the big leagues in 2018. Hernandez was a Rule 5 Draft pick last year, and because he made it through the entire season, he is eligible to be optioned to the Minor Leagues if necessary.

Prospects to watch
Some of the organization's top prospects will get a chance to showcase themselves in Spring Training. Right-handers Nick Neidert and Zac Gallen are not on the 40-man roster, but both could be big league pitchers in 2019.

Neidert is especially worth watching. The 22-year-old is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 4 prospect, and he was the organizational pitcher of the year in 2018. Gallen is ranked No. 20.

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Neidert, RHP, Marlins

A couple of other prospects, Jorge Guzman (No. 6) and Jordan Yamamoto (No. 17), have been added to the 40-man roster. Guzman is perhaps the hardest thrower in the system. His fastball touched 101 mph at Class A Advanced Jupiter last year. Yamamoto was a standout in the Arizona Fall League after reaching Double-A Jacksonville. Both could be in the big leagues at some point in 2019.

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

Miami Marlins

Marlins grooming prospect Diaz as 2B of future

MLB.com

MIAMI -- It's no mystery the Marlins are in the market for an impactful left-handed hitter, and the organization just might have a secret weapon lurking in its farm system.

Second baseman Isan Diaz made big strides at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2018, and he wrapped up his year by playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. The 22-year-old is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 9 prospect, and the No. 4 second-base prospect overall.

MIAMI -- It's no mystery the Marlins are in the market for an impactful left-handed hitter, and the organization just might have a secret weapon lurking in its farm system.

Second baseman Isan Diaz made big strides at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2018, and he wrapped up his year by playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. The 22-year-old is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 9 prospect, and the No. 4 second-base prospect overall.

Of all the Marlins' prospects, Diaz is regarded as the closest to being big league ready.

The Marlins consider Diaz their second baseman of the future, and his estimated time of arrival in the big leagues could hinge on how much longer Starlin Castro remains with the organization.

Video: MIA@STL: Diaz slugs a home run to the opposite field

Castro is in the final year of his contract, and the four-time All-Star may be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Miami is exploring trade options for Castro, but his $11 million salary makes it extremely unlikely that he will be dealt before Spring Training begins on Feb. 13 at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium Complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Diaz played some third base in the offseason, but the Marlins are grooming him as their second baseman. While he is expected to start off at Triple-A New Orleans, reaching the big leagues around midseason is certainly possible.

A native of Puerto Rico, Diaz recently wrapped up winter ball for the Gigantes de Carolina squad, hitting .272/.348/.368 with six doubles, one triple, one home run and 13 RBIs in 33 games.

Acquired from the Brewers in the Christian Yelich trade last January, Diaz opened 2018 at Double-A Jacksonville before a promotion to New Orleans.

Video: ATL@MIA: Blaylock talks NOLA Baseball with Diaz

In 119 Minor League games, his slash line was .232/.340/.399 with 23 doubles, five triples, 13 homers and 56 RBIs. At Double-A, his numbers were .245/.365/.418 with 19 doubles, one triple, 10 homers and 42 RBIs. There were some growing pains at New Orleans, where his slash line was .204/.281/.358 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 36 games.

In Diaz, the Marlins feel they have a second baseman with 20-homer power, and he has shown the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields. According to Miami's internal analytics, 9 percent of the balls Diaz put in play in the Minors in 2018 had an exit velocity of at least 105 mph. The MLB average is 7 percent.

More than just the numbers, the Marlins didn't hesitate to expose Diaz to higher-level pitching, and he saw more of it in the offseason.

When you add in 33 games in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Diaz appeared in 152 total contests, with 545 combined at-bats. That gave Diaz a sampling of what the rigors would be like over a full Major League season. Additionally, Diaz participated in a tournament with the Puerto Rican national team.

Tweet from @diaz_isan: #NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/SYXrTpi8GW

The Marlins are giving Diaz even more preparatory experience before camp begins.

Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison, the Marlins' second-ranked prospect, and right-hander Jordan Yamamoto (No. 17) have been invited to the Rookie Career Development Program, which is being held this week in Miami.

Prospects from all 30 big league clubs are invited to the annual event that features seminars and guest speakers.

Harrison, like Diaz, is expected to open the season at New Orleans. How quickly he progresses to the big leagues depends on how he continues to refine his approach at the plate, while demonstrating he can make consistent contact.

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

Miami Marlins, Isan Diaz