Scout’s corner: Why Marlins are fun to watch
MO2 contributor, Bob Johnson, a former big league school for four decades, calls the Marlins a fun, exciting team. He’s high on Jazz Chisholm Jr., and says Brian Anderson will be fine
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Something is brewing around the Miami Marlins.
There’s positive momentum building as this enticing team continues to band together, no matter what.
The energy, passion and “buy in” by the players to the coaching staff and the organizational philosophy is winning over fans locally. You can feel the excitement building at loanDepot park.
You can also count Bob Johnson as a fan of what the Marlins are building in South Florida.
A former MLB scout with four decades of experience, Johnson is a regular MO2 contributor.
From his point of view, he likes the way the manager Don Mattingly has the Marlins grinding every single game.
“They play hard,” Johnson said. “They play right to the end. I was standing up hollering when Alfaro had that hit the other day. The thing I like about the Marlins is, they play hard, all the time.”
The game Johnson is talking about is last Saturday’s 7-6 win in 10 innings over the Giants. Jorge Alfaro was the walk-off hero, with his two-out, two-run double.
“That win [Saturday] was just as exciting as any Dodgers-Padres matchup,” Johnson said. “That was a thrill, to watch that.”
Marlins’ fans, people are taking notice. Industry insiders are so far impressed.
To put that Marlins-Giants thriller in the same sentence as last weekend’s Dodgers-Padres series is saying something, because that rivalry lived up to the billing. The Marlins are holding you on the edge of your seats as well.
What stands out to Johnson is the focus, passion and purpose in which the Marlins are playing. This is a team without any real superstar that plays as one. The players believe in each other, and are abiding by a team concept.
“It’s the entertainment of the players who play hard,” Johnson said. “That team runs hard. They have good at-bats. They work hard on defense. It’s so much fun watching them play because you know you’re getting 100 percent every day.”
Johnson is impressed by the plans the players have at the plate. He jokes that a few years back, the offense swung at any pitch near the plate. Now, they don’t chase, and have a solid approach.
“It’s nice to see an overachieving team that plays hard all the time,” Johnson said. “The playing hard part is key for this club. They’re fun. That’s a fun team to watch.”
Johnson credits Mattingly’s managing style, and he heaps plenty of praise on pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
“It’s so nice to see a coaching staff with a good pitching coach,” Johnson said.
Johnson also offers his insights into some of the Miami players:
2B Jazz Chisholm Jr.: “He fits right into the Miami model,” Johnson said of the rookie. “He’s very athletic. I think he could probably play any place in the infield. He makes contact, and he can run, and he can throw.”
The rookie second baseman is a natural shortstop, but in Johnson’s eyes, he also could play third base.
“He can be a regular at a couple of different positions,” Johnson said. “He’s a very versatile talent.”
C Jorge Alfaro: “He’s a grinder, with what he has,” Johnson said. “He commands his pitching staff pretty well. I think they listen to him.”
You have to feel good for Alfaro, who is off to a slow start, and has dealt with hamstring tightness early. To come up with the walk-off hit is a reminder of how Alfaro perseveres, and continues to work. He’s also capable of impacting the ball at the plate.
Athletically, he’s very good. He’s strong and fast, and works hard.
CF Starling Marte: Marte’s fractured rib on his left side is a tough break for the Marlins. The veteran is the best overall player on the roster, Johnson said.
Marte also showed plenty of promise early in his career with the Pirates, but now is finding his comfort zone with the Marlins.
“Now, he’s on a stage where he can use his skills,” Johnson said. “And also, he’s in a system now where he understands he is part of the greater good. He doesn’t have to do it all himself. There are guys around him, who may do it, or may not do it, but he knows they’re giving it their best.”
3B Brian Anderson: The fact Anderson is off to a slow start doesn’t concern Johnson. Anderson is entering his prime, and has a track record as an established third baseman.
With Marte hurt, it would be nice to see Anderson step up.
“Brian Anderson will be fine,” Johnson said. “He’s proved himself to me last year that he’s a pretty good player. He makes good contact. He uses the field. He has an understanding of what’s going on at the plate.”