There is a lot of familiarity going on down in Jupiter, FL as the Miami Marlins prepare for pitchers and catchers to report to the team’s complex at Roger Dean stadium.
There are many new faces as well, which should make the start of the 2017 baseball season as interesting as it has been in south Florida in some time. It’s always an exciting time when baseball opens shop, much to the delight of the 30 major league teams and the fans who have been without their beloved sport for the past three months.
"This is an exciting time, because we know that baseball is near," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said, via MLB.com. "Obviously, we're pretty excited about the offseason that we had. We think we were among the more active ballclubs this offseason in trying to add to our existing core and put pieces in place to really help this team get to where it wants to go, and that's into a playoff and to bring a championship back to South Florida."
The Marlins haven’t been in the playoffs since 2003, the second longest drought in the majors, with Seattle having been out of the postseason longer. Miami didn’t do much to change its lineup, with the core of its roster returning for another season. The pitching staff is another story.
Addition, addition, addition.
As Joe Frisaro wrote, As the organization moves forward, the Marlins decided to keep the nucleus together, bringing back all eight of their Opening Day starting position players.
"That's big," right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "We have a solid core. We all have got to be on the field at the same time. We all have to battle at the same time.
"We didn't need much lineup-wise. We've got a pitching core and a hitting core. We've got to put it together in spring and be together all year."
Stanton will immediately have the spotlight thrust upon him as he has been injured the past three seasons, which has affected his ball club. The major power source for this organization must have a healthy 2017 if they are to compete with Washington and the New York Mets for wildcard or division crown.
There will be 63 players in “cam” when the entire roster is present on Feb. 17, while 25 players make the opening day roster and there are few spots left to add to the core of players, there will be a few position battles to watch in the rotation, namely the fifth starter and who will remain in the bullpen on opening day. If anything, the Marlins have a chance to see their prospects and determine how soon they will play in Marlins Park.
Per Frisaro, a number of the Marlins' top prospects will be at Spring Training, with the highest ranked being left-hander Jarlin Garcia and third baseman Brian Anderson. Garcia and Anderson are rated third and fourth, respectively, on Miami's top-30 prospects list, according to MLBPipeline.com. Perhaps the two most interesting prospects are left-hander Dillon Peters (No. 11) and Drew Steckenrider (No. 16). Neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, but Peters could find himself in the rotation by midseason, and Steckenrider may be in the bullpen by then as well. Right-hander Jake Esch (eighth) and catcher Tomas Telis (10th) each have big league experience and offer organizational depth.