MIAMI — It’s official. The Dodgers are headed back to Albuquerque to play at Isotopes Park, meaning the Marlins will need to find a new place to field its Triple-A affiliate. Nothing has been set yet, but the Marlins are expected to place their Triple-A team in New Orleans, where the Mets previously were — before they moved to Buffalo.
As for the Marlins’ Double A affiliate, it was announced on Thursday that they signed a two-year agreement to move to Jacksonville, Fla. — making it a lot easier to transport players. The new affiliate is the Jacksonville Suns who have been the home of the Dodgers since 2001.
With so many players being arbritration eligible for next season, the Marlins could field several new faces in Spring Training next year. We’ve already seen a little bit from Dallas McPherson, Gaby Sanchez and Cameron Maybin, but Chris Coghlan (.298, 74 RBIs and 34 stolen bases in 132 games for Double-A Carolina) figures to be a factor to start at second base if Dan Uggla isn’t brought back, and Mike Stanton (.293 with 39 home runs and 97 RBIs in 125 games for Class A Greensboro) has definitely opened up some eyes. Matt Dominguez (.296 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs in 88 games for Class A Greensboro) is still a little young, but he had a great year, too.
– Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
MIAMI — The Marlins’ Double-A affiliate, the Carolina Mudc
ats, swept the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx in the Northern Division playoffs and will face off against the Mississippi Braves in a five-game series beginning Monday.
The Mudcats outscored West Tennessee, 22-5, and Gaby Sanchez went 5-for-12 with three RBIs in the series.
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said he’d wait until the Double A playoffs are over before he calls anybody from the Mudcats up. And when they are, Sanchez and Cameron Maybin are very likely candidates.
After starting off the season 33-36, the Marlins’ High A affiliate, the Jupiter Hammerheads, went right down to the wire in the second half for first place in the Florida State League’s East Division. While going 41-28 to end the year, the Hammerheads finished just a half-game out of the first place Daytona Cubs — a lead they lost during their last five games of the season.
Going into the final five contests, Jupiter actually held a half-game lead on the Cubs but had five games against them to finish off the season. The Hammerheads split the first two, but they fell in the following two games to put them at 1 1/2 out and mathematically eliminated. The Marlins’ 2003 first-round pick, Jeff Allison, was the losing pitcher in the dagger, getting rocked for seven runs (six earned) in just two innings.
Don’t blame Adalberto Mendez for the Hammerheads coming up short in their quest for the playoffs. All he did was record 29 saves — tied for the FSL lead — while posting a 3.47 ERA. In 57 innings, Mendez struck out 59 batters and limited his opponents to a measley .215 batting average.
I know Mendez isn’t one of the more popular candidates for the Marlins’ closers role in 2009 if Kevin Gregg isn’t retained — that title belongs to Matt Lindstrom and Ryan Tucker. But neither of those two have impressed much in the Major Leagues, and a season like this one could make Mendez, a 26-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic, a potential candidate when Spring Training opens next year.
Mendez was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cubs in 2001 and, after five years in their system (he didn’t start until 2003), he was acquired by the Marlins for the 2008 season. It was a big bounce-back year for Mendez, who posted a 5.09 ERA last year between High A and Double A.
How they finished …
Albuquerque Isotopes: 68-75 (.476), 2nd in American South Division of Pacific Coast League; 7.5 games out of first place; 10th overall out of 16
Jupiter Hammerheads: 41-28 (.594), 2nd in East Division of FSL; .5 games out of first place; 3rd overall out of 12
Greensboro Grasshoppers: 28-40 (.412), 5th in Northern Division of South Atlantic League; 16 games out of first place; 13th overall out of 16
Jamestown Jammers: 47-29 (.618), 2nd in Pinckney Division of New York-Penn League; percentage points out of first place; 3rd overall out of 14
Gulf Coast League Marlins: 30-24 (.556), 2nd in East Division of GCL; 2.5 games out of first place; 5th overall out of 16
Since the beginning of the September callup period, the Marlins have brought in five players from their Minor League system. Here’s a look at how they’ve done since being called up/back:
Logan Kensing: 36.00 ERA in two appearances (four runs in one full inning)
Eulogio De La Cruz: one 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout
Robert Andino: 0-for-2 through two games
Dallas McPherson: 0-for-3 with three walks through three games (one start)
Brett Carroll: 0-for-1 with three appearances
– by Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
MIAMI — It was a good week in Florida’s Minor League system in terms of individual awards. On Thursday, Double-A Carolina’s Gaby Sanchez was named the Southern League Most Valuable Player after racking up 88 RBIs — the most for a Mudcat since 1995 — hitting .342 with runners in scoring position and hitting 17 home runs. Through Wednesday, the first baseman already had a franchise-record 41 doubles and was hitting .320 for one of the best offenses in Double A.
Then, on Saturday, Class A Jupiter had an MVP of its own when first baseman Logan Morrison (pictured) got the honors for the Florida State League after leading the FSL in batting average (.334), hits (157) and doubles (37). Morrison, a 6-foot-2 lefty-hitting 21-year-old, was taken by the Marlins in the 22nd round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Last year for Greensboro, Morrison hit .267 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs.
Isotopes drawing fans
With 13,576 on hand to see their home finale, the Isotopes totaled 593,606 fans in 71 games for the season, beating the previous high in 2005 of 582,839.
Two more for McPherson
After having just one home run in August going in, Dallas McPherson belted two more home runs on Saturday night, bringing his count up to 42 this season with just two games remaining. McPherson still leads the Minor Leagues in home runs, and Nelson Cruz — whose contract was purchased by the Rangers on Aug. 25 — is behind him with 37.
All-Stars all over the place
Sanchez, second baseman Chris Coghlan (.298, 71 RBIs) and outfielder John Raynor (.312, 13 home runs, 49 RBIs) were all named to the Southern League Postseason All-Star Team on Thursday. The Mudcats were crowned the North Division second half champs and will begin the playoffs next week.
Injured Marlins: Outfielder Brett Carroll (right shoulder) has been rehabbing for the Hammerheads. Over his last 10 games, the 26-year-old is hitting .184 (7-for-38).
– Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Here’s an update on what’s going on in Florida’s Minor League system:
Miller is the new addition
The Marlins outrighted right-handed reliever Justin Miller to the Isotopes this week, 10 days after they designated him for assignment to bring up catcher Paul Lo Duca. How Miller does in the few remaining games the Isotopes have left could determine whether they bring him back up with teh Marlins when rosters expand to up to 40 players after Sept. 1.
Bringing up Miller could be a big question for the Marlins, who would have to be added to the 40-man roster first.
Follow the leader
With just nine games to go in his regular season, standout third baseman Dallas McPherson continues to lead the Minor League world in home runs with 40, three ahead of Nelson Cruz.
McPherson is enjoying a stellar comeback year after missing all of 2007 with back surgery. The 28-year-old is hitting .278 with 91 RBIs in 121 games.
Despite currently being on a three-game losing streak, the Marlins’ Double-A club is still in first place in the Southern League at 37-24 (a .607 winning percentage). They’re 5 1/2 games up in the North division, and a half-game ahead of Mississippi for first overall.
The Marlins’ first-round pick last year, Matt Dominguez, has been struggling as the season winds down for the Grasshoppers. Over his last 10 games, the 6-foot-2 right-handed hitting corner infielder is hitting just .220 (9-for-41). This season, the 18-year-old is batting .283 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs in 83 games.
Hammerheads holding on
With just nine games remaining in the regular season, the Marlins’ Single A club remains one game ahead of Daytona in the East division of the Florida State League for first place. Jupiter sits at 36-24, and both clubs have won three games in a row.
Injured Marlins: Left-hander Andrew Miller (right patella tendinitis), who threw 5 2/3 innings and 99 pitches in a rehab start on Thursday, will make another Double-A rehab start Wednesday and be on a pitch count of 100. … Righty reliever Doug Waechter (right shoulder inflammation) threw a pain-free inning of scoreless relief during a rehab assignment outing Thursday. Waechter is getting some work with the Gulf Coast League Marlins and is eligible to come off the disabled list.
– Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
MIAMI — With the end of August on the horizon, and the day Major League rosters can expand on Sept. 1 coming up, let’s take a look at how some of the players who could help the Marlins make a postseason run are faring in the Minor Leagues:
Robert Andino – Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez always expresses wishing he would’ve had a chance to use Andino’s versatility more when he was with the club, but his bench was just too deep for the 24-year-old to get much playing time. In his limited time, this is what we know about Andino: He’s fast and a very smart baserunner, is a streaky hitter that can hit for power and a good defensive infielder — who played emergency outfield on occasion.
Andino was optioned to the Isotopes on July 31 to make room for veteran closer Arthur Rhodes. On Sunday, Andino hit a walk-off homer for Albuquerque. In his last 10 games, he is batting .391 (18-for-46) with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
Dallas McPherson – The power-hitting third baseman has turned a lot of heads this season, and a lot of people feel like he could be a starter with the Marlins right now. McPherson has a good chance to be with the team after Sept. 1, but one problem with him is he pretty much fits the bill in terms of the rest of the Marlins players — he strikes out a lot (150 times this season with just 70 walks) and hits a ton of home runs (a Pacific Coast League-leading 40).
On the year, he also sports a .279 batting average with 91 RBIs.
One more thing, he is not a prospect. McPherson is 28 years old and played three seasons with the Angles. Regardless, after missing all of 2007 because of back surgery, it’s been a great comeback for the 6-foot-4 left-handed hitter.
Taylor Tankersley – “The Tank,” as some of his teammates with the Marlins call him, can be a very useful tool out of the Marlins’ bullpen if called back up, especially with the way current lefty reliever Renyel Pinto has struggled — sporting a 27.21 ERA since July 29.
Tankersley started off the year on a bad note, but he said he became a “tougher” pitcher when sent down to Triple-A and has sported some good numbers in the Minor Leagues this year, going 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 29 games.
Paul Hoover – I can’t see the Marlins adding a fourth catcher this year, but Hoover has been up and down with the club all year, and Gonzalez has said he does a very good job handling the pitching staff. In his last 10 games with the Isotopes, Hoover is batting .294 with two home runs and three RBIs.
Rick VandenHurk – The righty starter struggled mightily at the beginning of the year with the Marlins, came back, had one very good start, then reverted back to his old ways before getting sent back down for Anibal Sanchez. Still, VandenHurk is a guy who can give the Marlins some spot starts if he’s back with the team.
He is 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA in his last four starts in Albuquerque.
Cameron Maybin – The speedy centerfielder is very young, but also very promising, and the Marlins are likely to want to take a closer look at him in September. This year, Maybin has been up-and-down offensively and has struck out a ton — pretty much the M.O. on the Marlins.
On the year, he’s hitting .276 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. Maybin suffered a shoulder injury earlier this month, but vice president of player development Rick Fleming said a few weeks back that he has recovered fully.
Gaby Sanchez – Not sure if Sanchez would get called up to the Marlins, but it sure would be tough to keep the corner infield from the big club. The former University of Miami star has been on a tear this year, batting .327 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs. In July, he earned Topps Player of the Month.
And check this out: He’s walked three more times than he’s struck out (65-62).
Ryan Tucker – Tucker started off the season as a starter, but struggles there prompted him to the bullpen with the Marlins, and he has continued that in the Minor Leagues.
Lately, Tucker has been throwing just one inning of relief at a time and has been used as a middle reliever — most recently as the eighth-inning guy. In his last five games, all of them one-inning stint, the 6-foot-2 righty has thrown five shutout innings and has given up just one hit.
* Catcher Mike Rabelo (right wrist) is pretty much done for the season, and Gonzalez said he’d probably play Winter Ball.
* Andrew Miller (right patella tendinitis) threw six shutout innings on an 80- to 85-pitch limit for Class A Jupiter on Thursday and would be scheduled to make his next rehab start on Tuesday. Gonzalez said he could pitch for Double-A Carolina. “We just want him to feel comfortable,” the Marlins’ skipper said.
* Doug Waechter (right shoulder inflammation) has been throwing bullpen sessions with no strain on his injury and said he’d be in Jupiter, Fla., throwing some more while the Marlins are on the road. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.
2008 Draft picks
The Draft signing deadline was midnight ET on Saturday, and the Marlins succesfully came to terms with their first nine picks. Here’s a look at how they’ve done in the rookie Gulf Coast League this summer:
1. Kyle Skipworth (C) – .187 batting average, four home runs, 17 RBIs in 37 games
2. Brad Hand (LHP) – 1-0, 2.83 ERA in eight games (seven starts)
3. Edgar Olmos (LHP) – 0-0, 0.00 ERA in one start
4. Curtis Petersen (RHP) – 0-2, 9.64 ERA in five games (four starts)
5. Peter Andrelczyk (RHP) – NULL
6. Graham Johnson (RHP) – 0-0, 9.00 ERA in one game
7. Paul Gran (3B) – NULL
8. Isaac Galloway (RF) – .274, one home run, 22 RBIs in 42 games
9. Daniel Jennings (LHP) – NULL
– by Alden Gonzalez, associate reporter/MLB.com
Here’s a look at what’s shakin’ in the Marlins’ farm system. Look for an update from me on this subject at least once a week.
McPherson keeps lighting it up
Everyone knows the Marlins hit a lot of home runs, but that feeling seems to be rubbing off in their farm system, too.
On Wednesday night, Dallas McPherson blasted a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to erase a two-run deficit and give the Isotopes the victory. McPherson hit three home runs on Sunday, and he now has 39 dingers — which lead the Pacific Coast League — to go along with a .302 batting average and 86 RBIs in 101 games.
The 28-year-old slugger missed all of last season while recovering from back surgery, and he seems to be making out just fine this season. Now, his focus is on making it to the big club.
“I think everybody just wants to be in the big leagues,” McPherson told MLB.com recently. “I signed with the Marlins to be there with the Marlins, and that’s what I want and am trying to do.”
Tucker remains in bullpen
Looks like the Marlins are convinced in Ryan Tucker being a reliever.
The 21-year-old rookie made six starts before being moved to the bullpen with the Marlins, giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings as a reliever. And ever since being optioned back to the Mudcats on July 23 for Justin Miller, Tucker has stayed there. In two appearances since going back to the Minor Leagues, Tucker has pitched four innings of relief, giving up no runs and three hits while walking two.
Maybin is back
Center field prospect Cameron Maybin is playing again after straining his left hamstring. The 21-year-old right-handed hitter returned to the lineup on July 28, and in three games back, he is 1-for-6 with two runs scored and three walks. On the year, Maybin is batting .263 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 84 games.
Allison back pitching
Jeff Allison, the Marlins’ 2003 first-round pick who has battled drug addiction, is back pitching in the Marlins’ organization, going 6-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 20 games — 19 of them starts. Earlier this week, Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Jim Fleming said Allison is on track to be a big league pitcher.
That’s a big statement considering how tough of a road Allison has gone through.
Look for a story on Allison’s tough road back on MLB.com in the near future.
Dominguez struggling a bit
The Marlins’ third-base prospect, Matt Dominguez, has struggled a bit lately, going 3-for-23 in his last six games. On the year, Dominguez — drafted 12 overall in 2007 — is hitting .278 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 61 games.
Players creating buzz: While the Marlins were in pursuit of Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, several of their prospects were rumored to be involved in a package that would go to the Pirates, along with Jeremy Hermida, while Pittsburgh would send Jason Bay to Boston. They were: Tucker, Allison and Mike Stanton (.274, 27 home runs, 67 RBIs in 99 games).
– Alden Gonzalez