Hechavarria continuing to mature at the plate
ATLANTA -- Adeiny Hechavarria has dazzled the Marlins and their fans with his glove all season -- so much so that his teammates and coaches consider him the best defensive shortstop in the National League.
In Saturday's 1-0 win over the Braves at Turner Field, Hechavarria delivered with his bat. The 24-year-old rookie from Cuba tripled to open the ninth inning, and he scored on a wild pitch for the lone run in the game.
Like so many young players on the Marlins, Hechavarria has endured his ups and downs in his first full big league season.
Defensively, he's lived up to his billing.
When the Marlins acquired Hechavarria from Toronto last November, the club believed he was a better defender than the player he replaced -- Jose Reyes.
Reyes, however, is a four-time All-Star, and a more established and dynamic offensive player.
As his career progresses, the Marlins are hopeful Hechavarria can establish himself as a .270 or so-caliber hitter.
The way he handles shortstop, the organization believes that is plenty of offense to counteract his glove.
"I try to defend, and the days I don't defend well, I try to hit," Hechavarria said in Spanish. "And the days I don't hit, I will defend."
The series in Atlanta features two of the NL's promising young shortstops. The Braves boast Andrelton Simmons, a player Hechavarria profiles to closely resemble.
Simmons has a fielding percentage of .985, fourth best in the NL, compared to Hechavarria's .978, which is sixth. Simmons has eight errors in 978 2/3 innings, to Hechavarria's nine in 893 2/3.
Hechavarria doesn't get caught up in who the opposing shortstop is. The only time he did that was while he was with the Blue Jays a year ago -- when he took the field opposite Derek Jeter.
"I was a big fan of Derek Jeter when I came over [from Cuba]," Hechavarria said. "When I saw him play, I was like, 'I've got to play like that.'"