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Marlins to focus on speed in rebuilding effort

September 23, 2018

MIAMI -- Building an organization that is strong up the middle is clearly the objective for the Marlins.As the organization continues to construct its roster at the big league and Minor League levels, the focus is to bring in as much speed and athleticism as possible.In a spacious ballpark like

MIAMI -- Building an organization that is strong up the middle is clearly the objective for the Marlins.
As the organization continues to construct its roster at the big league and Minor League levels, the focus is to bring in as much speed and athleticism as possible.
In a spacious ballpark like Marlins Park, where home runs are hard to come by, athleticism is considered a premium.
"If you get to pick and choose what you like, our ballpark is a ballpark that's bigger," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "A little guy who hits the ball in the air a lot doesn't really do you a whole lot of good. You've got to really hit it good here in this ballpark. There's a lot of ground to cover out there, so speed, obviously, is something you'd like to have."
The Marlins closed out the home portion of their schedule on Sunday, and like any offseason, changes are expected in the offseason.
First base is a position that will be addressed, but the question is if they will go with a stop-gap free agent or fill it through a trade. A main reason Justin Bour was dealt to the Phillies in early August was because he is more of a power threat without much speed, and he is a below average defender.
Speed in the outfield also is imperative, which is why rookies Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra are getting plenty of looks this month.
"Speed and athleticism gives you opportunities to do a lot more things," Mattingly said. "You put pressure on the defense from the standpoint of being able to hit-and-run more, being able to [steal] more.
"Even if you don't steal a bunch of bases, it puts pressure on the pitcher to at least have to hold you, to pitch quicker. Then, those guys usually aren't as good when they have to slide-step, or do two things."
The type of players the Marlins are going for are more gap-to-gap hitters with power potential.
"The more athletic you get, the type of players you want, should fit your ballpark," Mattingly said. "It doesn't mean you don't want guys who can hit it in the seats, but I do think you want guys who are able to drive in runs with gap power, and line-to-line type guys who are more pure hitters."
Worth noting
• The Marlins held a pregame tribute Sunday to veteran radio voice Dave Van Horne, who is completing his 50th season in the booth. Van Horne was the Ford C. Frick Award winner in 2011, earning him a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
• Right-hander Jose Urena is tentatively set to make his last start on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field. His status is up in the air because he is dealing with a tight right IT Band, which is on the right side of his leg. Urena was lifted after 5 2/3 innings on Saturday due to discomfort.
• Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter said the organization has made a priority to be more active in the international free agent market.
"It's a priority for us," Jeter said. "We've acquired some international money through trades and we'll continue to do that. That's a big area of growth for us as an organization. We'll be making some changes to our academy down in the Dominican Republic, and we're going to build a new academy down there, so we're going to invest a lot in our international market."

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