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Inbox: When will Mesa arrive on scene?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Marlins fans
December 17, 2018

Last year, the Marlins' rotation was made up mainly of right-handers. Wei-Yin Chen was the only left-handed starter most of the time. Do you envision the Marlins pursuing a left-handed starter in free agency? Who would be a potential candidate? -- @Havana_CasinoYou raise an interesting point. Chen indeed is the

Last year, the Marlins' rotation was made up mainly of right-handers. Wei-Yin Chen was the only left-handed starter most of the time. Do you envision the Marlins pursuing a left-handed starter in free agency? Who would be a potential candidate? -- @Havana_Casino
You raise an interesting point. Chen indeed is the lone lefty in the projected Opening Day rotation, and Miami doesn't have much lefty starting-pitching depth at its upper levels. Last month, the Marlins traded southpaw Dillon Peters to the Angels for right-handed reliever Tyler Stevens.
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I don't anticipate Miami being active in free agency looking for a left-handed starter, unless it is a non-roster invitee situation. But keep this in mind, Caleb Smith is returning from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. Smith is expected to take it slow early in Spring Training, and he may not be completely ready for Opening Day. If he isn't, and barring any setbacks, Smith could be a second lefty to join the rotation at some point in the first month or two of the season.

How do you see the Marlins using JT Riddle and Miguel Rojas? Will they platoon, or will one play a different position? -- @jason_beland
Unless the Marlins acquire a shortstop in a trade, I envision more of the same from the Marlins at shortstop. Riddle, 27, has been slowed by injuries in each of his first two seasons. He appeared in 102 games in 2018, after seeing time in 70 games in his rookie ('17) campaign. So this is a critical time for Riddle to show if he can handle the premier position. A year ago, his offseason was hindered by the fact he was recovering from surgery and wasn't able to build up his strength. The club is hopeful Riddle rebounds and provides some production from the position. As for Rojas, you know what you're going to get. He's a true pro, and impresses defensively. Of the two main shortstop candidates, Rojas is more likely to see time at third, second or first.

Considering all the moves made by the Marlins over the past year, do you feel the farm system is much more respectable, and do you see a bright future? -- @mpowis3
Without question, the system is deeper, and has added layers of talent -- ranging from Class A ball through Triple-A. Dating back to 2017, the Marlins have made more than 15 trades that brought in more than 30 players. Of that group, 15 are ranked by MLB Pipeline on Miami's Top 30 prospects list. What the organization doesn't appear to have right now is that marquee "can't miss" talent like Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez when they were breaking into pro ball. But Miami has an influx of very talented athletes. As an organization, it is profiling athletes who can play up the middle and move to the corner spots, if necessary. Keep in mind, many players in the system are considered to have "first-round talent." Not all went in the first round, but players like international signings Victor Victor Mesa and his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., are regarded as players who would have first-round talent. Lewis Brinson was a first-rounder. Yes, he struggled in his first full big league season, but he has elite athleticism and talent.

What are the odds that Victor Victor Mesa cracks the Opening Day roster? If he doesn't, where will he start off -- Double-A or Triple-A? -- @AidanWagner9
No one realistically expects Mesa, who signed in October, to be big league ready from Day 1. Remember, he isn't yet on the 40-man roster. The 22-year-old prospect from Cuba has been spending his offseason training with his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and he hasn't seen much game action in about a year. In terms of his development timeline, he is considered to be at the Double-A level, but I wouldn't be surprised if he starts off at Class A Advanced Jupiter to get his timing down, and then depending on how he performs, he could get promoted to Double-A. The athleticism and tools are very impressive. One scout clocked one of his throws from the outfield at a workout at 93 mph. There are some questions as to if he will hit. That's where development will play a part. Clearly, Mesa will be one of the most followed players in Spring Training.
What is the likelihood we will see a reunion with Logan Morrison? -- @welch_04
Morrison, of course, was drafted by Miami and played with the organization from 2010-13. Now 31, Morrison would fit what Miami is looking for, a left-handed-hitting first baseman. Whether he is the top priority remains to be seen. Morrison struggled last year with the Twins. As a free agent, he may be a candidate to sign in January.

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