The Miami Marlins promoted outfield prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick to the major league roster yesterday, inserting them both into the starting lineup against the Colorado Rockies. Yelich went 3-for-4 with two RBI; Marisnick went 0-for-4.
Barring injury or a crushing slump, both players will be in the lineup for the rest of the season as the Marlins push forward with their four thousandth rebuilding effort. Let's take a look at the newest Fish with a co-Prospect of the Day.
Jake Marisnick, OF: Marisnick was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round in 2009, from high school in Riverside, California. He had the tools to be a first-rounder, but there were enough questions about his hitting to keep him from going that high. He hit poorly in the Midwest League in '10 (.220/.298/.339), but those questions looked foolish after he returned there and hit .320/.392/.496 with 14 homers and 37 steals in 2011. He held his own in High-A last year (.263/.349/.451 with 10 steals), but had trouble with the strike zone upon promotion to Double-A (.233/.286/.336, 11 walks, 45 strikeouts in 223 at-bats).
Traded to the Marlins from Toronto in the Mark Buehrle deal, he returned to Double-A in '13 he has been more effective, hitting .294/.358/.502 with 12 homers and 11 steals.
Marisnick is a 6-3, 225-pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born March 30, 1991. He is an excellent defensive outfielder with the speed, range, and arm strength to handle center field; it is not impossible to see him develop into a Gold Glove type if he hits enough to play regularly.
He has enough speed to steal 20 bases and enough strength to knock 20 homers, but his overall hitting isn't a sure thing yet. His approach is very aggressive, his swing gets long and complicated, and he has problems with breaking balls. Marisnick has shown the ability to adapt and improve, but skipping him past Triple-A is a risk in this regard. He may need a few hundred at-bats to figure out what works and what doesn't against advanced breaking balls.
Christian Yelich, OF: The Marlins drafted Yelich in the first round in 2010, from high school in Westlake Village, California. A first baseman in high school, he moved to the outfield to take advantage of his athleticism. He's been an excellent hitter thus far, hitting .312/.388/.484 with 32 steals and 15 homers in Low-A in '11, .330/.404/.519 with 12 homers and 20 steals in High-A in 2012, and .280/.365/.518 with seven homers and five steals in Double-A during a 49-game injury-plagued 2013 season so far.
Yelich is a 6-4, 195 pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born December 5, 1991. He doesn't throw as well as Marisnick and thus will play left field in the majors in deference to his teammate, but Yelich uses his speed effectively in the outfield and certainly runs well enough to handle center if you need to use him there. Like Marisnick, he runs well enough to steal 20 bases if given the green light.
Although he has some problems against left-handed pitching at times, Yelich has a smooth swing and a better feel for the strike zone than Marisnick, As Doug Gray notes in his recent breakdown of Yelich's spray charts, the young hitter makes a concerted effort to use what the pitchers gives him and hit to all fields.
My feeling is that Yelich is more likely to have immediate success in the majors than Marisnick is, which of course means that the opposite will probably happen.
Either way, if the Marlins are committed to this course of action, they need to stay committed to it and let these guys play through any slumps or adjustment issues.