Spring Training is less than a week away, with the Marlins opening camp on Wednesday at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. As camp approaches, MLB.com breaks down the 2018 roster, position-by-position. Today: Catcher/infield.MIAMI -- After all the changes the Marlins made, the area with the most
Spring Training is less than a week away, with the Marlins opening camp on Wednesday at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. As camp approaches, MLB.com breaks down the 2018 roster, position-by-position. Today: Catcher/infield.
MIAMI -- After all the changes the Marlins made, the area with the most continuity is the infield. But with the club still open to making more moves, those positions also are subject to change.
Until further notice, J.T. Realmuto projects to catch and Starlin Castro is penciled in at second base. Collectively, it is the most experienced unit on the team.
Due to the roster turnover, Miami fans will be learning their share of new names. There are, however, several familiar faces in the infield. Justin Bour is back at first base, Martin Prado and prospect Brian Anderson are at third, and JT Riddle and Miguel Rojas are forecast to handle shortstop.
The most glaring loss from the infield is Dee Gordon, a National League Gold Glove Award winner at second base and the NL batting champion in 2015. Gordon was dealt to the Mariners in July.
As long as Realmuto is on the roster, catching is not in question. The 26-year-old is among the best at his position, and he comes off a season in which he hit .278 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs.
With A.J. Ellis not returning, there isn't much experience backing up behind the plate. Chad Wallach, the son of bench coach Tim Wallach, and Austin Nola are the only other catchers on the 40-man roster. Tomas Telis is a switch-hitter with some big league experience. His defense, however, is in question, and the Marlins are unsure if he is ready to be a full-time catcher. To get his bat in the lineup, he's played some first base.
Castro is the newcomer. He was acquired from the Yankees as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade. Castro is in his prime, and he is under contract through 2019. But, like Realmuto, the 27-year-old has expressed he doesn't want to be part of a building club, and he prefers to be with a contender. Derek Dietrich provides depth at second, third and first, and he can also play left field.
Castro batted .300 with the Yankees and connected on 16 home runs. If he is dealt, it could open the door for Dietrich to handle second base on a regular basis.
At first, Bour is the primary power threat in the lineup. His 25 home runs and 83 RBIs in 2017 are the most of any player on the roster. Garrett Cooper, who hit 18 home runs in 83 Minor League games last year while in the Yankees' system, is a right-handed hitting option at first.
With so many roster changes, Prado's presence could be important to the young players. First, the 34-year-old needs to re-establish his health. He sustained a right hamstring injury last Spring Training while playing in the World Baseball Classic. He also had a right knee issue and played in just 37 games.
Anderson, the team's No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, projects as the third baseman of the future. He showed promise as a September callup. But if Prado is healthy, it could mean Anderson opens the season at Triple-A New Orleans.
The Marlins have two promising shortstops, but both dealt with injuries in 2017. Riddle is a left-handed hitter who showed promise in 70 big league games, but his season was cut short due to a left shoulder injury, which required surgery. Rojas, a right-handed hitter, could split time at short, but he also had injury issues in '17, overcoming a broken right thumb and left shoulder ailments.
The Marlins are aiming to build a sturdy franchise from the bottom up.
"We've added over 20 players to our Minor League system since last July," chief executive officer Derek Jeter said. "In order to turn around the franchise, you need talent. We've acquired a lot of talent."
Some of those players are infielders, like second baseman/shortstop Isan Diaz, the club's No. 9 prospect. Diaz was part of the Christian Yelich deal with the Brewers. He likely will open the season at Double-A Jacksonville, and he could be a candidate to be called up at any point in the season.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.