PHILADELPHIA -- You had to see it to believe it, to truly fathom it. When Adeiny Hechavarria went vertical to make his sensational leaping catch at Citizens Bank Park in Wednesday's sixth inning, I missed it. I had left my seat briefly and when I returned, I asked others to describe the play. None could do it justice.
But here is what Marlins infield coach Perry Hill had to say about it afterward: "I have never seen a baseball player jump that high on a baseball field, ever. I've been around a while, too. I mean, that's just instinct, number one, and God-given ability to jump that high. I mean, that just shows you how good an athlete he is, too."
Third baseman Ed Lucas was the closest Marlin to Hechavarria when he made the stunning catch on Cody Asche's line drive and said he wasn't sure that what he had just seen had actually happened.
"I was trying to make eye contact with anyone in the stadium just to verify what I just saw," Lucas said. "Because I really didn't think that little body could get that high off the ground. It's pretty impressive. I'm a little jealous, I'm not going to lie to you. In fact, I always feel bad when I end up at shortstop. I say, 'I told you guys don't expect me to make the plays he's making over there, because I don't think anyone else in the world can make those.'"
Manager Mike Redmond played with two of the majors' most athletic shortstops in former Marlins Alex Gonzalez and Edgar Renteria and said Hechavarria now belongs on the same throne.
"I've played with Edgar Renteria and Alex Gonzalez, and this kid is maybe more athletic than those two guys," Redmond said. "I think the amazing thing is his ease to the balls, and how he just kind of floats and glides to these balls and makes these plays look relatively easy. I don't know how high he jumped, but it looked like he was three feet in the air. It was unbelievable. I didn't think, when that ball was hit, that he had a chance for it."
The play was so spectacular that hard-to-please, yet admiring Phillies fans applauded it not once, but twice after seeing it replayed on the ballpark scoreboard.
As jaw-dropping as Hechavarria's play was in the sixth, it was his defensive gem in the eighth that saved the game for the Marlins. With the score tied 3-3 and a man on third for the Phillies, Roger Bernadina hit a screaming one-hopper into the hole. Hechavarria dove, made a backhanded grab on the ball and fired to first to end the inning and prevent the go-ahead run from scoring. The Marlins ended up winning the game in the 10th.
Check out both of Hechavarria's monster plays: