Marlins Spring Training 2013: Kyle Skipworth Gets His Chance

It came on a bad break. Jeff Mathis, acquired in the trade with the Blue Jays, was supposed to be the veteran backup catching option this summer for Rob Brantly heading into the season. Yesterday, against the Cardinals in the preseason opener, Mathis broke his collarbone in the 4th inning.

“When I went to throw I felt it,” Mathis said. “It wasn’t right. Right now, it’s non-displaced, which is good. I’ve had a broken face, broken hand, and broke wrist. I’ve never messed my collarbone up.”

Mike Redmond weighed his options. Kyle Skipworth got the call to replace Mathis. There are really few options left as the Marlins are a bit thin at catcher to begin with. Jake Jeffries, Wilfredo Gimenez, and J.T. Realmuto are also available – Realmuto is a converted catcher who is rising up the Marlins farm system ranks to become a legit prospect, but as of right now is not ready for full duty at the big league level.

So, this is it for the 2008 top pick for the Marlins. His defense has improved to the point where he is a viable option for the big league level yet it was supposed to be his offense that sped him along. Although he did hit 21 home runs last season in AA Jacksonville, he also batted only .217 with 143 K’s. The power is definitely big league, but questions about his ability to make consistent contact and be serviceable at the plate linger. We already wrote in a previous article that this is the defining moment for Skipworth and the Marlins 2008 draft. With Brantly as the assured starter, Skipworth has a real chance to break the season with the big league club, although never playing above AA previously. Mathis could be out as much as 6 weeks, and with the Marlins already dealing with injuries at 1B (Logan Morrison), the youth movement seems to be accelerated already.