Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton may be ready to return to the starting lineup as soon as this Friday, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, following last night’s win over the Braves. Stanton hit the disabled list with a Grade 3 groin strain that was supposed to effectively end his season in early August, but Miami activated him from the disabled list last week in a surprise move. However, Stanton has been relegated to pinch-hit duties until this point. Frisaro writes that Stanton has been running the bases and performed fielding drills in right field without any signs of discomfort. At 73-73 on the season, the Marlins are currently four games back from an NL Wild Card spot with 16 games remaining on the schedule. Seven of those games will come against the fourth- and fifth-place Phillies and Braves, though, while another three will come against the Mets, who currently lead the Fish in said Wild Card chase.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the younger brother of Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel, hosted a showcase for 60 to 70 Major League scouts today in Panama City, per a pair of reports from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and El Nuevo Herald’s Jorge Ebro.
The Marlins had a pair of scouts on hand to watch Gurriel, per Ebro, while the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan reported yesterday that the Astros would be in attendance as well. And earlier this month, FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that the Cardinals were planning on attending the workout, too. Realistically, though, given the number of scouts reported to be in attendance and the fact that the younger Gurriel brother is one of the most well-regarded prospects on the international scene, it’d probably be more notable to list the teams (if any) that didn’t attend his showcase. Heyman said that roughly 20 teams were likely to be represented, and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if that number ended up closer to 30.
Gurriel, 22, is currently subject to international bonus pools. That, however, will change next month on Oct. 19 when he celebrates his 23rd birthday. Despite his relative youth, Gurriel spent parts of six seasons playing in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top league, meaning he’ll have the requisite experience to qualify as a professional upon turning 23, thus exempting him from bonus pools and allowing him to a Major League contract with any team for any amount and length.
Gurriel began his pro career in Cuba at just 16 years of age and batted .277/.362/.426 in 305 games from 2010-16, including an impressive .344/.407/.560 with 10 homers and eight steals across 59 games in his final season on the island. Capable of playing both shortstop and center field, Gurriel showcased his skills at both positions today, per Sanchez, fielding grounders and turning double plays from the shortstop position while also catching fly balls and making throws from center field. He also took four rounds of batting practice, two rounds against live pitching and ran a 6.65 in the 60-yard dash (all via Sanchez’s report). Sanchez writes that Gurriel’s physique and strong arm drew praise, though some teams felt he could use some more work against live pitching.
From here, the likeliest step for Gurriel will be to conduct private workouts for teams with interest in signing him. Because he’s unlikely to sign before his birthday, the Wasserman client should have ample time to allow multiple clubs to make an evaluation before agreeing to terms with a team. In the above-linked piece from the Houston Chronicle, Kaplan spoke to Baseball America’s Ben Badler about Gurriel’s overall skill set, with Badler explaining that the soon-to-be 23-year-old could open next season in Double-A or Triple-A, suggesting that a reasonably quick rise to the Majors is possible.
- The Marlins released right-hander Andre Rienzo. The Brazilian hurler posted a 2.85 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 2.3 K/BB rate over 41 innings split between four levels of the Miami farm system, though 32 1/3 IP came at the Triple-A level. Control was again an issue for Rienzo, as it was during his 140 1/3 career MLB innings with the White Sox and Marlins from 2013-15 when he had a 4.7 BB/9 (not to mention a 1.6 HR/9 that contributed to his 5.90 ERA).
Prado, who will turn 33 in October, has long been a quality contributor and is amid yet another solid campaign. In 136 games and 590 plate appearances, Prado has slashed .309/.361/.418 while grading as a plus defender for the sixth straight year. Prado was also effective last season, his first in Miami, as he batted .288/.338/.394 and accounted for 3.2 fWAR in 551 trips to the plate.
Prado joined the Marlins in a December 2014 trade that has served Miami well. In addition to Prado, the Marlins acquired right-hander David Phelps from the Yankees for a package including righty Nathan Eovaldi and first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones. Phelps has been terrific this season, while Eovaldi was inconsistent in his first year-plus as a Yankee before undergoing Tommy John surgery last month. Jones appeared in only 57 games with New York last year and is currently playing in Japan.
If Prado leaves Miami after the season, he’ll join his fifth major league team (he has also played for the Braves and Diamondbacks). That might mean landing with yet another NL East club, Philadelphia, which FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday could have interest in him. Prado is set to conclude the four-year, $40MM contract he signed with Arizona in 2013, and the career .293/.342/.424 hitter should be in line to match or surpass his current average annual value of $10MM during the offseason.
For the Marlins, losing Prado could lead to Derek Dietrich taking over at third base. Dietrich has mostly played in the infield, including logging time at third base, since making his major league debut in 2013. The 27-year-old has slashed .271/.364/.397 in 371 PAs this season.
Facial hair policy may not typically be at the top of the list of considerations for free agents, but Marlins righty Andrew Cashner says it’s a matter of concern to him, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. The recently-acquired starter says that he “still hate[s]” Miami’s policy forbidding beards and intends to weigh that when he reaches the open market after the season. “That is a big deal to me in free agency,” he said. The 29-year-old seems unlikely to be more than a rental for the Fish anyway — his 4.78 ERA with the team is a near match for the 4.76 mark he put up before he was dealt — but if he sticks to his guns, it would seem that he also will be unlikely to sign with the beardless Yankees this winter.
The Marlins picked up a decisive win in last night’s game, but Miami has nonetheless dropped eight of its past 10 games to fall five games out of an NL Wild Card spot. With the team’s playoff hopes dwindling, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the Fish are prepared to shut down Jose Fernandez if they slip further out of contention. Miami has hoped to cap Fernandez’s innings around 180, though a postseason berth may have added some extra frames to that limit. Instead, with the young ace already at 160 1/3 innings, skipper Don Mattingly conceded that shutting Fernandez down is “absolutely” a consideration if the team’s losing continues. “We’ll look at that as it goes,” said Mattingly. “Obviously, we’ve been paying attention to his innings all along.”
- The Marlins will try to find a No. 2 type starter this winter to slot between Jose Fernandez and Wei-Yin Chen, but the usual caveats apply: this offseason bears a historically poor crop of free-agent starting pitching, and the Marlins’ paper-thin farm system makes it difficult to land a high-quality pitcher via trade. Per Heyman, the Marlins are frequently asked about Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto but are loath to part with either rising star. He also adds that manager Don Mattingly is strongly in favor of the team re-signing Martin Prado.
In a surprising turn of events, the Marlins announced that Giancarlo Stanton has been reinstated from the disabled list and activated for tonight’s game against the Phillies. Stanton suffered a Grade 3 groin strain back in mid-August, and it was initially believed that a six-week recovery time was a best case scenario. That would’ve allowed Stanton to return to the Majors, at best, for the final week of the season. However, he’s now set to return to the roster in about half that time.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets that for the time being, Stanton will be limited to pinch-hitting duties, though certainly his activation creates some optimism that he could eventually be tabbed for more regular time before season’s end (though Spencer adds that there’s no definitive timeline on Stanton’s return to the lineup).
The 26-year-old Stanton is in the midst of his worst season at the plate, but even a down year for the game’s premier slugger is markedly above-average relative to the rest of the league (121 OPS+, 117 wRC+). At the time he landed on the disabled list, Stanton had a .244/.329/.496 batting line with 25 homers, but he’d been on a blistering hot streak dating back to mid-June. In 48 games leading up to his injury, Stanton had posted an outstanding .299/.361/.582 batting line with 13 homers, raising his OPS 108 points in the process.
Of course, it remains to be seen how Stanton’s groin injury will impact his ability to hit, even in a limited role. His mere presence on the bench, however, will factor into the decision-making process of rival managers, as will the presence of returning first baseman Justin Bour, who was also activated from the DL today. In Stanton and Bour, the Fish will get their two top power threats back into the mix as they look to stay alive in the National League Wild Card race. Miami has dropped a dreadful nine of its past 10 games, falling to five games back of the second Wild Card spot in the Senior Circuit.
The Marlins have designated righty Kendry Flores for assignment, the club announced. His 40-man slot was needed for the activation of first baseman Justin Bour from the 60-day DL. Miami has also promoted lefties Hunter Cervenka and Justin Nicolino as well as utilityman Yefri Perez.
The 24-year-old Flores was injured during his lone MLB outing of the year, and has spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A. He hasn’t quite followed up on a strong 2015 campaign, spinning 102 innings of 4.15 ERA pitching while compiled 7.1 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9.
Among the call-ups, the return of Bour is certainly the most anticipated. He has been a pleasant surprise at the plate this year, to say the least. Over 242 plate appearances, Bour owns a .268/.347/.526 slash with 15 home runs. The 28-year-old has struggled in strictly-managed action against opposing southpaws, so he’s a limited player, but Miami will certainly hope he provides a jolt as the team looks to scratch its way back into contention.
- Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki hopes to play again in 2017 and would like to stay in Miami, per the report. With his club option valued at only $2MM, that may be a fairly easy pick-up for the organization. Playing in his age-42 season in 2016, Ichiro has compiled a useful .294/.365/.366 batting line over 296 plate appearances, continues to rate as an average or better fielder and overall baserunner, and has even cracked double-digit stolen bases for the 16th-straight season.