If there is anyone who has made the most of his time in the big leagues after starting the season in the Marlins minor league system, it’s JT Riddle. The shortstop who is now on his second trip to the South Florida is making a clear point to play shortstop on a daily basis now that injuries have thrust him into action.
"It's a huge opportunity," Riddle said after the Marlins' 7-2 loss to the Dodgers on Friday. "I'm sitting there in Spring Training and you don't sit there and hope people get hurt just so you get a chance, that's not how I wanted it to go. But when guys go down, I get a chance to step in and come up here and play every day and try to help the team."
Riddle spent time in both Jacksonville and New Orleans last season and was impressive at the Marlins Spring Training facility in Jupiter, Florida. Riddle, the Marlins' No. 12 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, made two highlight-reel plays in the field, doubled and drove in a run on Friday night.
The Miami Marlins selected Riddle in the 13th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. He signed with Miami and began his professional career with the Batavia Muckdogs of the Class A-Short Season New York–Penn League.
He played for the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the Class A South Atlantic League in 2014. Riddle began the 2015 season with the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League, and received a midseason promotion to the Jacksonville Suns of the Class AA Southern League.
After the 2015 season, the Marlins assigned Riddle to the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.
In 2016, the Marlins invited Riddle to spring training. The Marlins added him to their 40-man roster after the season. He began the 2017 season with the New Orleans Baby Cakes of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, and was promoted to the major leagues on April 10.
Riddle's recorded his first major league hit on April 12, on a checked swing infield single against the Atlanta Braves. On April 16, he hit a walk-off home run against the New York Mets, his first major league home run.
Should he continue to impress manager Don Mattingly and the organization, could Miami become his permanent home for the remainder of the season?
"He's been really good with the glove and he's getting better with the bat," Mattingly said. "He's a guy that's got a really good clock, steady hands. He's calm and he's a guy -- you can already see it -- he's going to be able to play big league shortstop and he's getting better with the bat, and that's what's going to be the determining factor in how good he's going to be."