The 2011 Marlins Depth Chart

by Eno Sarris //

The Marlins are used to plugging in young players around the diamond and watching them perform. This year will be no different, as the team faces unsettled situations at second base, third base, and left field. How those battle play out will be interesting in fantasy leagues – at least deeper ones.

Left field used to be the dominion of former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. But after he hit the DL last season with a knee injury, former first base prospect Logan Morrison took over…and probably did well enough to keep the job. Though he didn’t show great power (.164 isolated slugging percentage, .150 ISO is about average), Morrison walked 14.3% of the time in his debut – and that number fit his minor league profile, as he walked 18.4% of time at Double-A and 16.4% in Triple-A. Morrison’s batting average on balls in play (.351 BABIP) was a little high, as he struck out 20.9% of the time last year in the majors (vs. 16.5% of the time in Double-A, and 14.7% of the time in Triple-A). Fewer strikeouts and a lower BABIP may just result in a similar batting average next year. Don’t expect the power to grow too fast, though – he only showed a .181 ISO in Triple-A, and power’s not the strongest part of his game.

But Morrison can play left, which pushes Coghlan to center field. It’s a curious move, given Coghlan spent all but one of his 289 minor league games at second or third base. Last year, Coghlan struck out much more than he ever had before (23.5% last year, compared to 15.3% in his rookie season, and 13.5% at Double-A), and his ISO fell (.115 last year, .139 in 2009, .130 in Double-A). If those numbers regulate a bit, Coghlan could break double-digits in both steals and home runs with a decent batting average; if he plays some third base as has been rumored, he’s add the bonus of dual outfield and infield eligibility.

The Marlins are expected to slide newcomer and 2010 All-Star Omar Infante in at second. Infante totaled his second-most plate appearances last year (506), but a high BABIP (.355 in 2010, .313 career) gave him a batting average (.321) that hid his lack of power (.096 ISO) or stolen base ability (seven stolen, six caught). These flaws, along with Infante’s value as a superutilityman and Wes Helms being the top third baseman on the Marlins’ depth chart right now, leave the door slightly ajar for other infielders in the Marlins system to step forward in spring training.

The top candidate on the farm for the third base job is Matt Dominguez, a solid gloveman who also has some power. The 20-year old might make for a better choice than Helms or the flawed Emilio Bonifacio, despite Dominguez’s lack of experience above Double-A. Still, the situation is so jumbled, cases have even been made for Ruben Gotay and his strong walk rate.

Infante, Coghlan and Morrison figure to see ample playing time one way or another this season. Despite their collective lack of power, each should find some use in fantasy leagues, if only because of their interesting eligibility and what will likely be decent batting averages. In standard leagues, they may not make great picks on draft day, but feel free to invest a draft pick in deeper mixed and NL-only leagues.

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