A lot of focus on the Marlins this upcoming season will be on the young players they are bringing along and how their production will take shape. The expectations for the team are low this year as most are picking this team to lose 100 games or barely exceed 65 wins. That aside, the players are what make this team go and it is with the players that fans will need to reconnect with.
In Adeiny Hechavarria, the fans get a player who defected from Cuba back in 2009 and was signed to a 4 year, $10M contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. So highly they thought of his defense, that they pegged him as their SS of the future – that is until the Marlins dangled Jose Reyes in front of them.
Now, Hechavarria becomes the Marlins’ SS of the future – and the fit seems to be a better one for both parties. The Marlins may have overpaid for Jose Reyes last offseason and regardless of a solid performance, the Marlins still went south in the standings and it was clear that Reyes hadn’t made the impact expected. As for Hechavarria, the change of scenery is much more helpful as the SS only speaks Spanish and even relies on translators for coach Perry Hill’s instructions – but there is no shortage of Spanish speakers here in Miami.
Which brings up an interesting point. The Miami Herald let loose an interesting observation in a recent article detailing Hechavarria’s arrival in Spring Training – that he had been training with Blue Jay legendary SS Tony Fernandez. If one can recall Fernandez’s career, as an anchor with the Blue Jays at SS helping guide their defense for years, he was a slick-fielding gold glove winner that could spray the ball and get on base. Fernandez was also able to steal bases throughout his career, amassing 246 swipes over his 17 year career, and also racked up over 2,200 hits along the way. He was an annual all star and among his peers as the best in the game.
Hechavarria has similar skills. He can flat out field – many have no problem gauging him to be a gold-glove candidate some day. The current intelligentsia at Marlins camp liken him to Edgar Renteria in terms of his projections both defensively and offensively. If Hechavarria does anything close to what Renteria has done, that, too, will be a great move for the Fish.
But in Fernandez, the Marlins may find a model for Hechavarria. Fernandez averaged .288 AVG, .347 OBP, .399 SLG, and .746 OPS along with 18 SBs and 7 HRs. Hechavarria is working on keeping his stance closed and driving the ball up the middle. He clearly has the speed to leg out triples and if he can cut down on his strikeouts, he may be able to get into the top of the lineup.