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Fins pass on Leach for now; Assessing Marlins' young players; Heat free agency, Canes

Quick Friday update: The Dolphins informed Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach's agent that they will not be making him an offer before training camp begins. Jeff Ireland told Leach's agent that he still has interest in Leach but wants to start camp with the current roster. Miami will go to camp with Jorvorskie Lane and Evan Rodriguez at fullback but have not ruled out making an offer to Leach during training camp. (There is reportedly sentiment on the coaching staff to add Leach.) Leach is considering a return to the Baltimore Ravens.

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FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN   

With the post All-Star break schedule beginning Friday, a look at where many of the Marlins’ prominent young players stand (excluding Giancarlo Stanton), with feedback from three scouts, Marlins executive Larry Beinfest and others:

### Center fielder Marcell Ozuna. Notable: Though his overall average has dropped to .273, he’s batting .352 with runners in scoring position and 5 for 7 with bases loaded… His eight outfield assists rank fourth in baseball.

Quotable: One scout said he has “All-Star caliber” ability. Another: “Has a lot of refining to do but will be a pretty good five-hole hitter long term. Love the bat speed. The power will come eventually.”… Has only three homers, but Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson said he should be a 25-home-run-hitter in time… Marlins believe he can play center field for years to come. “He has the speed and arm strength to play center, and his throwing is really good,” Beinfest said.

### Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Notable: Hitting .412 in July, which is best among NL shortstops and has raised his overall average to .240. Only five shortstops have committed fewer errors than his six.

Quotable: Beinfest: “He has been awesome. We love Hechavarria.”…  Scout’s view: “He has a chance to be a Gold Glove guy in time.”…. “Remember, there are lot of defenders at shortstop, who became better hitters later in their careers, like Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith.”

### Second baseman Derek Dietrich. Notable: His one home run every 23 at-bats (nine overall) is second behind Dan Uggla among NL second basemen. But hitting only .218.

Quotable: Beinfest: “He has been great. Hard nosed kid. The power has been impressive. Now he’s got to work on the contact, the consistency.” Scout’s view: “He reminds me of Uggla because of his pop, and he’s a little better defensively than Uggla.”… Another scout raised concerns whether he will hit for a respectable average: “He swings at a lot of non-strikes.”… Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon: “We liked the bat a lot when we had him. He’s got an easy swing. The challenge is to polish him defensively.” (The Marlins have been pleasantly surprised by his defense.)… Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez: “He scares you at the plate.”

### Catcher Rob Brantly. Notable: Average has dipped from .290 in 2012 to .242, with one homer. Throwing out 35.3 percent of base-stealers (well behind teammate Jeff Mathis’ league-leading 61.9). Has six passed balls, and the Marlins’ ERA with him behind the plate is highest among NL catchers.

Quotable: Though Mathis has played more than Brantly recently, Beinfest is still optimistic Brantly can be the Marlins’ longterm catcher. “Rob can be better offensively than he has,” Beinfest said. “The package is there. As far as the catching goes, the blocking is better, the throwing is very good. So let’s get it all together.”… Scout’s view: “It’s probably 50-50 if he’s an everyday catcher. I would have said yes last September off the way he was hitting.”… Another scout said he needs to improve how he calls a game and handles a staff.

### First baseman Logan Morrison. Notable: With his knee problems behind him, his average (.282) is nearly identical to his rookie season in 2010, after hitting .247 and .230 the past two years.

Quotable: One scout: “I wonder if his power will uptick some more (back to his 23 home run level of 2011). I’m not sold yet as a middle of the order bat. You want to see him sustain what he’s doing now as far as getting on base. You worry about his durability.”… Another scout: “He’s less of a problem defensively at first than left field.”

### Pitcher Jose Fernandez. Notable: Only three other qualifying pitchers have allowed a lower batting average than Fernandez’s .196.

Quotable: Hall of Famer pitcher/Braves announcer Don Sutton: “Love the bulldog attitude and command. He pitches older than his age.”… Maddon: “He could be the top pitcher in baseball in two or three years.”

### Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. Notable: Not enough innings to qualify for leader board but allowing just a .181 average.

Quotable: Scout: “Power arm and has a chance to be a No. 2 starter. But I would have concerns about whether he would hold together physically long term.”

### Pitcher Jacob Turner. Notable: ERA (2.33) and batting average against (.230) are sterling.

Quotable: Scout’s view: “He’s not a power guy, and he needs to continue to work on his entire arsenal because his stuff isn’t as good as Fernandez and Eovaldi. But I think he can be a No. 3.”

### Pitcher Steve Cishek. Notable: Has 17 saves, but five losses and two blown saves.

Quotable: Scout’s view: “I would like to trust him a little more than I do. He doesn’t trust his stuff as much as he should. He has a good sinker and throws harder than it seems like he thinks he throws.”… “I’d prefer him in a set-up role ideally.”

### The Marlins believe Henderson Alvarez (4.58 ERA in three starts) can be a long-term rotation piece but need to see more.

CHATTER

### Agent Mike Conley Jr. said the Heat still has as good a chance as anyone to land center Greg Oden and is expecting Heat officials to come to Ohio or Indiana, possibly next week, to observe him during his regular workout routine -- including agility work, shooting and jumping drills. But Conley said there are no plans for Oden to do traditional on-court workouts for teams – when a player competes against another - because he won’t be cleared for contact until August.

No team has made an offer yet; “teams are in the information gathering stage,” Conley said. Asked if he would be receptive to an offer at the minimum salary from Miami, Conley said he and Oden haven’t discussed that. If Miami offers only the $1 million minimum, that might not be enough. Yahoo! reported that New Orleans is expected to offer $3 million in the first season of a multiyear deal.

Oden, who hasn’t played since 2009 because of knee issues, hopes to sign within a month and should be ready by the opener, Conley said. Besides the Heat and Pelicans, the Spurs, Mavericks and Kings also have shown interest. Cleveland is no longer pursuing him, and Boston hasn't called recently.

"Miami has a need at center, and they don't need him at his best [early] to win games," Conley said. That's appealing to Oden.

### Marcus Camby, in the process of being bought out by Toronto, has been linked to the Heat, Bulls, Rockets and Clippers, but he cannot schedule meetings with any teams until the buyout is finalized. (It was very close on Thursday afternoon.) 

Last week, the Heat and Raptors discussed a trade that potentially would have included Camby and Mike Miller --- according to an official briefed on the situation --- but nothing materialized. If that deal had happened, Miami could have saved a lot by trading Miller and perhaps amnestying Joel Anthony.

Anthony now cannot be amnestied but could still be traded. Meanwhile, Miller cleared waivers and can sign with any team excluding the Heat. He has been linked to Oklahoma City, Memphis, Houston and Clippers, but the Thunder reportedly is the favorite. OKC general manager Sam Presti is traveling to Miami to meet with Miller this week.

### Heat second-round pick James Ennis' rocky play in the Las Vegas Summer League continued late Thursday night when he shot 3 for 9 (closing with 11 points and 6 rebounds) in a win against Chicago. Jarvis Varnado (two points, four rebounds) remained foul-prone, with five in 14 minutes.

### Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tells us that team CEO Mike Dee’s successor will not be longtime friend Carl Peterson nor will it be former Jets executive Matt Higgins, who runs Ross’ sports and entertainment business. But Ross said: “Matt does have a significant involvement with the Dolphins.” Dee's successor will run the business side of the operation, and likely will have no involvement in football decisions.

### The Dolphins season-ticket sales are lagging at around 40,000 - though they say they are ahead of last year's pace - but they're encouraged that they have distributed well over the initially allotted 2000 tickets for Sunday's first training camp practice at 8 a.m. in Davie... Ryan Tannehill this week thanked Chad Pennington publicly for "being a big help to me" this offseason, as we detailed in a previous blog. 

### Hialeah quarterback Alin Edouard, who remains a UM oral commitment, tweeted that he will be on the road visiting other schools this weekend, beginning with Cincinnati. UM is prepared to take three quarterbacks in this class, but some believe only two of the three oral commitments will end up coming (Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier or Edouard, with Rosier considered more likely).

"There will continue to be strong recruitment of quarterbacks until we get symmetry and the position where we want it," Al Golden said this offseason. 

### Tough summer for several UM players starting their pro careers. Dallas’ Shane Larkin broke his ankle; Durand Scott has gone scoreless in just 25 Las Vegas Summer League minutes for the Spurs; Kenny Kadji is averaging 5.5 points (9 for 22 shooting) for Cleveland’s Summer League team, though he played better Thursday; and Reggie Johnson and Trey McKinney Jones are still looking for work. Julian Gamble signed in France.

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