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Inbox: Is Realmuto worth building around?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from fans
May 14, 2018

Do you see J.T. Realmuto as a long-term fixture on this team or as a non-waiver Trade Deadline or offseason trade possibility? I would love to see him anchor this team long term. -- @darknaterisesWhat's next for Realmuto promises to be the most speculated topic surrounding the team. The closer

Do you see J.T. Realmuto as a long-term fixture on this team or as a non-waiver Trade Deadline or offseason trade possibility? I would love to see him anchor this team long term.
-- @darknaterises

What's next for Realmuto promises to be the most speculated topic surrounding the team. The closer we get to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the more the rumors will fly. But as of now, clubs pretty much stopped inquiring about the 27-year-old, who is positioning himself to be an All-Star for the first time. Now, that likely will change as we get into June and July. We know teams in need of a catcher would have interest, and the Marlins set the asking price very high in the offseason.
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When Atlanta inquired, Miami asked for Ronald Acuna Jr. in return. The Nationals talked with the Marlins, but they weren't willing to part with coveted prospect Victor Robles. To pry Realmuto away would require an elite, potentially All-Star-caliber prospect in return.
Then there is the question whether Miami wants to retain Realmuto. That answer is easy, the Marlins cleary do. They have no urgency to make a trade. One of the most athletic catchers in the game, Realmuto has two more seasons after this one remaining in arbitration, and he won't qualify for free agency until after the 2020 season.

Do you see Sandy Alcantara being called up in the near future? And would the Marlins consider a six-man rotation given injuries and restrictions on current starters?
-- @ArielFernandez

In the updated MLB Pipeline rankings, Alcantara moved up to No. 2 on the Marlins' Top 30 prospect list. The 22-year-old has made seven starts at Triple-A New Orleans, pitching to a 3.79 ERA. I spoke with a scout who saw Alcantara pitch recently, and his stance was pretty much the same as the organization's -- Alcantara has tremendous upside, but still could use more polish. Since there is no urgency for Miami to promote him, the 6-foot-4 right-hander will continue to keep progressing with New Orleans.

Alcantara is way too valuable to what the Marlins are trying to do long term, so they are being extremely patient with him. A year ago, when he was in the Cardinals' system, he made 25 starts and logged 125 1/3 innings at Double-A, before he was called up to the big leagues in September. Right now, Alcantara's timeline for promotion is a matter of when he can show he is truly ready.
"The thing that we wanted from him following Spring Training is just consistency," president of baseball operations Michael Hill told recently. "Consistent strike throwing, commanding the zone. Consistency with his breaking ball. Consistency with the little things, like controlling the running game. He's still progressing well, and we're excited that he's continuing to throw the ball well."
How long before JT Riddle is back in the big leagues? He's healthy and crushing it in New Orleans.
-- @gwfpbpio

This is a timely question, because Miguel Rojas was struck by a pitch in the left wrist/forearm area on Sunday against the Braves. Although an X-ray came back negative, Rojas may not be available for the start of Miami's series with the Dodgers on Tuesday at Marlins Park. If the Marlins decide to place Rojas on the 10-day disabled list, Riddle is available for an immediate callup from Triple-A.

With Riddle, it hasn't been performance. It's been about establishing health. He last played in the big leagues on July 19, 2017, subsequently undergoing left shoulder surgery. In Spring Training, the 26-year-old dealt with right shoulder tendinitis. But Riddle has now played in 15 Minor League games, including 11 for New Orleans. Counting games at Class A Advanced Jupiter, Double-A Jacksonville and New Orleans, the left-handed-hitting shortstop has a slash line of .397/.410/.603. Riddle had an off-day on Sunday, and he could join Miami at any time to step in at shortstop.
What player in the Marlins' farm system right now do you see having the biggest impact for the team at any point this season?
-- @NRojasLocal10

Since Spring Training, I've been reporting how fans should be keeping an eye on right-hander Pablo Lopez, a 22-year-old from Venezuela who was acquired from the Mariners last July in the David Phelps trade. Listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Lopez has a clean delivery with plenty of life on his fastball -- which touched 94-96 mph in Spring Training. He is pitching with Double-A Jacksonville, and on Sunday, he allowed his first run of the season. It came in his fifth start. Lopez ended up losing the game, 1-0, but he worked seven innings, striking out seven. His ERA is 0.35 (one run in 26 innings) with 27 strikeouts and four walks. MLB Pipeline lists Lopez as the Marlins' No. 21 prospect, but later this year, he could make the leap to the big leagues and be in the rotation.
Is Brian Anderson's long-term value higher as a right fielder than at third base? He has displayed surprising athleticism in right field that wasn't seen at third base. I like him in the outfield.
-- @cameron954

I believe Anderson's long-term future is at third base or perhaps first, but he's now in right field, with Martin Prado at third. Anderson displayed his strong throwing arm on Saturday, getting Freddie Freeman of the Braves trying to go from first to third on a single. According to Statcast™, the throw was clocked at 96.3 mph.

In the National League, you are seeing more teams moving players around to different positions. Anderson is caught in that trend, so he may also end up logging more time at first base. I think his future is in the infield, either at third or first. The organization has Monte Harrison, its top prospect in the revised MLB Pipeline rankings, at Double-A, and he projects as Miami's right fielder of the future.

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