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Scouts evaluate Marlins; Dolphins book draft visits; UM personnel moves; Heat chatter

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN    

Random thoughts on the Marlins from four veteran big-league scouts who have evaluated them this spring:

### There’s more optimism than I expected, based primarily on the pitching staff. “They have some of the better young starters in baseball and a decent bullpen,” one said. "Their pitching is better than Atlanta’s.”

Said another: “Their team is better than the Phillies and Mets. Their pitching is very deep, and they have a power staff. All high quality starters.”

And another said: “I like their team. There’s a lot more positive energy now. I think they can get to .500 and maybe [better] because Philadelphia and New York are in disarray.”

### Among players that have impressed the most this spring: Pitchers Brad Hand and Tom Koehler. Each has allowed one run in 12 innings; one will be in the rotation, one likely in the bullpen. “Koehler’s stuff has gotten better,” one scout said. “He’s already a No. 4-type starter and could end up being a No. 3.”

### Prized lefty prospects Andrew Heaney and Adam Conley, both sent to minor league camp on Monday, also drew plaudits. One scout said: “Heaney can be really special, and Conley had got a good arm; he can relieve or start. I’m very impressed with the amount of good arms they have coming.”

### Concerns were voiced about Marcell Ozuna, who is 5 for 36 this spring. But manager Mike Redmond said today he still expects him to start in center field. 

“Last two weeks will be key for him, because this is the time pitchers break out their breaking stuff, and he’s vulnerable to that,” one scout said. “He’s a wild swinger. The tools are there, but he’s had a bad spring.  If they go with a [Brian] Bogusevic/Reed Johnson platoon instead, those guys are serviceable.”

Johnson (13 for 29 this spring) has been much better than Bogusevic (6 for 29). Jeff Baker also could see time in left field. And Jake Marisnick can’t be ruled out if he keeps hitting like this (.375 this spring).

Said another scout: “Ozuna has that big Gary Sheffield pump going, and it seems like he’s late getting his hands back and foot down.”

### From a scout perspective, there aren’t many doubts about Christian Yelich, even though he’s hitting .222 this spring. Though Ozuna has the stronger arm, “Yelich looks like a little better center fielder to me,” one scout said. “His range is better. Good instincts. He’s going to hit .280 to .300 in his career.”

### One scout worries about Rafael Furcal, 36, who has battled a hamstring injury this spring after missing all of 2013 with shoulder surgery. “When he has played, I haven’t been impressed,” one scout said. Another said: “Furcal looks heavy to me.”

Donovan Solano (.364 this spring) and Derek Dietrich (.371) are decent options at second base if Furcal misses time in the regular season, and both have hit well this spring. “Dietrich has played better than the Marlins probably expected,” one scout said. “He’s become more disciplined at the plate.”

### One scout said the Marlins are making a mistake if they start the season with Garrett Jones playing every day at first base, instead of platooning with Jeff Baker. Jones is hitting .158 this spring, Baker .296. “Jones can’t hit left-handers, and he’s got a very long swing right now,” one of the scouts said.

### One scout said the Marlins’ biggest worry should be “first, second and third base. Not very good. Casey McGehee [hitting .225] is a stopgap at third. Free-swinging guy. Hasn’t been great. He’ll play a representative third base.”... Another said: “One thing you learn in Japan is how to learn to hit breaking balls. It should make McGehee a better hitter.”

### On the Carlos Marmol experiment: “So far, he has been OK. He has thrown the ball over the plate, which for him is quite a challenge. But can he ever be trusted?” Two scouts said reliever Carter Capps, acquired for Logan Morrison, hasn’t thrown as well as they expected, at least not yet.

### Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Arquimedes Caminero have impressed. “Rodriguez might be a hidden gem,” one scout said. “Throws 98, decent curveball.” Another said Rodriguez “pitched this week as well as I’ve seen in a long time."

CHATTER

Teams are allowed to bring 30 non-local players to their headquarters for draft visits, and the Dolphins are summoning two University of Arizona players to Davie on Wednesday: cornerback Shaquille Richardson (good mix of size at 6-1 and speed, having run a 4.38 in the 40) and outside linebacker Marquis Flowers (a former safety with four interceptions and 6.5 sacks over the past two years). Neither was invited to the NFL Combine, but both have created a buzz.

XL Sports Management’s Marco Marciano, who represents both players with Frank Gaitan, said Flowers’ versatility and ability to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield is appealing to teams. Players cannot work out during visits to team headquarters but can meet with coaches, management and staff.

### One agent said the Dolphins told him they will be looking for a running back in the draft, and they feel they can find one in the mid-rounds if necessary. The top prospects --- all potential second-rounders --- include Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, Auburn’s Tre Mason, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk and Washington’s Bishop Sankey.... ESPN reported that Denver free agent running back Knowshon Moreno would love to join the Dolphins, but it's unclear if the interest is mutual.

### Though the Dolphins have inquired about Devin Hester, his agent said they hadn’t booked a visit as of Tuesday. Hester made his first visit to Atlanta today…. Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin continues to make the most sense for Miami at No. 19, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper said Pittsburgh might take him at 15.

### Houston’s Dwight Howard, after battling the Heat’s Greg Oden on Sunday: “He’s got to get his timing back, and it takes a while to do that. He can’t get frustrated.”

But does Oden need to be more of a threat offensively by the time the Heat faces Indiana in the likely Eastern Conference Finals matchup? Dwyane Wade insists no: “He does a great job of screening and doing the small things.” The Heat has been outscored by 21 points with Oden on the court this season (entering Tuesday), but he’s much better playing with Chris Bosh --– which is why starting him makes sense.

Oden played well in his third start of the season Tuesday, with six points (3 for 6 from the field) and three rebounds in 14 minutes, his season high. Miami was plus eight with Oden on the floor.

### Couple of other postscripts from Miami's 100-96 win at Cleveland: LeBron James was magnificent, with 43 points (including 25 in the first quarter), six rebounds, four assists and three blocks... Chris Bosh has been Miami's best shooter late in close games this season (topping 54 percent), and he nailed a three to break an 88-88 tie, then hit a jumper to extend the lead... 

Udonis Haslem got rare late-game minutes and made the most of them, including a key block of a Dion Waiters shot down the stretch. Haslem had six boards in eight minutes. "He really can make an impact in those short burst minutes with some rebounding and energy," Erik Spoelstra said... With Dwyane Wade (rest) sitting out on the first night of a back-to-back, Toney Douglas started and had nine points and five assists... The offshoot of Oden entering the starting lineup has been Michael Beasley's departure from the rotation. Shane Battier is getting those minutes off the bench.

### UM coach Al Golden said he has given thought to moving Ray Lewis III to running back (where he excelled in high school) but will leave him at cornerback if he’s one of Miami’s top four corners (which doesn’t seem very likely to me)… Golden said he wants to give Corn Elder, recovering from a knee injury, some playing time at receiver this season in addition to cornerback duties… Anthony Chickillo, left off the field on a lot of third downs last season to the surprise of many, said he spoke to coordinator Mark D’Onofrio about that and expects that to change. “I want to be in on third down,” he said. 

### Quick plug for a good cause: Merchandise being sold on Superfansportsfundraising.com this week is being used to help raise money for Pembroke Pine Charter Schools, with the school raising the most money getting a visit from Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers. The web site sells all sorts of pro sports and college merchandise.

Comments

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Gee

Get rid of D'Onofirio, ASAP!! The man has no idea what a blitz is, which is the reason opposing QB's look like the second coming of Elway against The U.. Our CBs play so far off the receivers they're constantly susceptible to being beat underneath. Same goes for the LBs. D'Onofirio just puts these spectacular athletes in horrible positions which impedes their ability to stop drives..

Marios

Don't know why they traded LoMo. To get this other bum? LoMo is finally healthy and ready to get back to what he was and is younger than the new 1B.
If Furcal even starts to have My problem I would like to see Dietrich get a chance to start, he's got some pop for a 2b. 3 years away from contending IMO.

Former Season Tckt Holder

Marisnick deserves to be the CF! Plain and simple he's been better. Also Marisnick is a better CF and baserunner. He should be out there in CF on opening day not Mr. "batting .135" Ozuna.

Former Season Tckt Holder

Agree on Lomo, They're gonna regret giving up on him. But Hey, it's the Marlins

joe r

we complain about the marlins but all the have done is win two world series in the last 15 years...not many other fans have that

loria is still a douche

jmike

Gee, maybe it's because the fastest corner on the team ran a 4.5. Think that might be the reason.

jmike

Marios, I will tell you why they traded LoMo BA last 3 years, 247, 230, 242, HR's 23, 11, 6. I'm sure the Marlins will really miss him.

Gary

With all due respect to Chickillo he hasn't proven in 3 years he can be anything more than a spot player! He is slow a foot, not strong enough to power rush & doesn't really add much. Give the younger kids a chance. Frankly I'm surprised he's in on the downs 1 & 2!!!!!! His playing is a tribute to the incompetence of the current staff.

James

I agree with Gary, Chickillo isnt good period. as regressed since his freshman year

mike

Chickillo is too slow and has T-rex arms.

g8rseetmya55

Agree with some posts. Chikillo is a bust.

BArry- Lets talk about UM baseball. Very little is beingsaid in themedia about this team

UM baseball once occupied an elite position in south florida sports. 4 national championships, perenniually feared by most, and a fixture at Omaha. The last 5-10 years, Jim Morris has been declining big time. He cant recruit, he is stale, he is unmotivated, and his teams are being characterized by error-prone machines that cant hit their weay out of a papaer bag.

Miami baseball is an embarassment. Jim Morris needs to go. His time is up. We need fresh ideas, fresh leaders. Jim Morris needs tobe fired or step down.


Reality Bites

All you need to know about UM baseball is that it sucks. That it has not been able to get past the regionals since 2008. That it is unranked and has the worst record of the State Big 3 schools.
It is March why not talk instead about the topic of the moment, basketball, March Madness, The Big Dance.
What you say? Can't talk about that either cause the sorry canes are worse in basketball than they are in baseball. No Big Dance, not even the NIT, worse team in the State, heck even Florida Gulf Coast got in the NIT, same FGCC that beat them sorry canes last year.
Might as well stick to football. The canes have a good chance at winning their Spring game, could be Spring champs again.

mike

Reality bites how many titles those gators got in baseball and recall gulf coast advancing pretty far last year.the reality is your team lost to who Georgia southern in football .then look at the bright side driskel is back lol.

green

Former #Cane. RT @AdamSchefter: Eric Winston was elected as President of the NFL Players Association today.
-- Christy Chirinos @ChristyChirinos

HAIL TO THE CHIEF

Mike Redmond

I am hoping Miami gets a Major League Baseball team one day...

Not our rival

Posted by: Reality Bites | 03/19/2014 at 11:03 AM

Hush nerd, no one cares about your fake Internet rivalry.

Pathetic.

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