K-Rod rejoining Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers have re-signed relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to a two-year deal with a team option for a third season.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the total value of the deal is $13 million. The contract pays Rodriguez $3 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016 and the remaining $4 million is deferred. In 2014 Rodriguez made 69 appearances for Milwaukee, saving 44 games and posting a 3.04 earned run average as a National League All-Star.

The move ends the rumors of the Brewers making a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon, and leaves Rafael Soriano as the biggest name in relief pitching still available on the free agent market. For Milwaukee, it not only solidifies their closer role but all the other roles in their bullpen as well. It also means that other teams who were courting Rodriguez will have…

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President Obama With A Marlins Cap!

On Cloud Conine

Earlier today, President Barack Obama landed in Miami, where he was was greeted by Florida Governor and #FishFamily member, Rick Scott — and a Marlins cap.

A passionate Marlins fan, Scott told the media, “I brought him a hat for the All-Star Game,” referring to the recent announcement that Marlins Park will be hosting the Midsummer Classic for the first time in 2017.

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Obama, ScottPhotos: Storm Media Group

But this isn’t the first interaction a U.S. President has had with the Marlins

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Presidents are always welcome in the #FishFamily.

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2015 Miami Marlins Prospect Profile: Jose Urena

Rising to the occasion in 2014 while playing for Double-A Jacksonville Suns, Jose Urena came out guns blazing – something we have become accustomed to seeing the Bani, Dominican Republic native do since joining the Miami Marlins organization in 2009. Urena is not only highlighted for being ranked on the Marlins top ten prospects lists, but is notable for his high-powered right-arm that features a fastball touching a maximum effort velocity of 98 mph. This same arm regularly sits on auto pilot at around 92-95 mph. The advanced feel for and  dominant control of this fastball, marked his path to being capped a 2014 Mid-Season All-Star –  recording a 6.8 K/9 ratio and 3.42 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) while walking just 29 hitters in 162 innings pitched. Urena averaged six innings a start and went seven strong on 10 occasions over 25 starts this past season.

Showcasing his electric fastball with a loose sling-shot type arm-action is, of course, the bread and butter of Urena’s whole arsenal, allowing his other off-speed pitches to play up. His best secondary offering is the change-up, which he tends to throw at an above-average capacity more consistently than his slider and curveball. Although the slider can be effective as another out pitch for Urena, it tends to be thrown below-average more often than not. His curveball is more of a “show-me” curveball that is scarcely used as a developmental 4th pitch at this time.

While the limber slinging arm-action will have to be worked on as well as his off-speed offers, he has the stats to back up his hype. They highlight what every front office GM likes to see in their young stars – a steady progression in their stat line from year to year. Over his last four seasons in the minors he has reduced his WHIP from 1.417 (2011) to 1.136 (2014), increased his SO/BB ratio from 1.66 (2011) to 4.17 (2014), striking out a total of 121 batters in 2014 and stranded 73% of runners on base.

Unfortunately, the Marlins are already heavily stocked with right-handed arms, especially once we see the return of rookie sensation Jose Fernandez. Jose Urena’s path to making his big league debut in 2015 will not be an easy one, unless there are unforeseen injuries to the Marlins staff. This assumes of course that the Miami Marlins front office view Urena’s prospect value higher than that of his right-handed counterpart, Trevor Williams. Williams pitched for the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads in 2014. He pitched only 15 innings at the Double-A level last season and tallied a 1.87 WHIP and a .368 BABIP, but he also posted a noble 3.17 FIP with a 6.87 K/9 ratio in 129 innings with the Hammerheads.

If the theory behind the reliever idea holds true, then there is a chance you could see Jose Urena go lights out in early spring minor league performances and make the Marlins big league pen as a reliever by mid-season. If that theory doesn’t entice you, then reality looks for him to open the season as a starter at Triple-A New Orleans, or possibly at Double-A Jacksonville for some extra polishing – a move the Marlins organization is prone to making to protect their top prospect pitchers. Hoping that with some extra seasoning at the minor league level, Urena can make an impact later on in the season as a September call-up, hopefully slotting in the big league rotation as either a spot starter or long reliever.

With everything considered, Jose Urena will be an exciting prospect to follow in 2015.

**Note: Please View & Share the original posting of this article at (http://www.fishstripes.com/2015/2/26/8066559/jose-urena-2015-miami-marlins-prospect-profile)

Giancarlo’s Body Painting: An Inside Look

On Cloud Conine

If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

After baring all in last year’s ESPN’s The Body Issue, Giancarlo Stanton is taking his modeling to the next level, gracing the latest cover of Sports Illustrated in nothing but body paint.

The 6’6″ Marlins stud becomes the first ever male athlete to be body-painted for the magazine, as well as the first athlete to grace its cover in body paint.

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It didn’t hurt that he was joined at the shoot by someone who knows a thing or two about getting their body painted: SI Swimsuit model Erin Heatherton, who gave Stanton some helpful insight.

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Despite spending nearly 15 hours in the makeup chair, Stanton was all-smiles with artist Joanne Gair.

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No word yet on whether the Marlins will be switching to painted uniforms this season — but we’ll be on the lookout…

For…

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Who will become Lucky #5 in the Marlins rotation when the dust settles

Assuming the Marlins don’t shop the recently committed Dan Haren before the season starts, the battle for the 5th spot in the Miami Marlins rotation just got exciting in the form of unpredictable.

After showing up at camp on Friday in Jupiter, FL to report for the Marlins pitchers and catchers workout, Dan Haren has made it clear he is here to stay, only fueling the fire with regards to the internal battle to find a 5th starter for the 2015 Marlins opening day rotation. Now that he has voiced his commitment to the team, Dan Haren may not be the one who’s caught up battling for the last spot in the rotation. Rather the battle for the last spot now could come down to watching the kind of numbers Brad Hand, Tom Koehler and David Phelps can put up, in hopes of solidifying the last spot in the rotation. We can assume that Dan Haren will now slide into the 4th spot in the rotation, barring any kind of injury, the Marlins are unlikely to send a much needed savvy veteran down to Triple-A or take his “Man-Card” from him by making him a long reliever, instead of the consistent work horse he has always been. Significance being, that there will be a new internal battle for the 5th spotin the rotation that will take place between Tom Koehler, David Phelps and the only lefty in the bunch Brad Hand.

Tom Koehler: (Leading Right-Handed Candidate)

Koehler is the lead horse in the race for the 5th spot going into the spring. Based on his stat line from last year where he registered a win-loss record of 10-10, while recording a career high in IP (191.1), ERA (3.81) and K/9 (7.20) striking out 153 total batters. All the while, walking just 3.35 batters per nine innings pitched. Although he tends to wear down in the late innings proven last year by Koehler going 7 strong innings just 9 times over 32 games started. However, he did end the season with 17 quality starts out of those 32 games, where he went six or seven innings for the Marlins and gave up just 3 runs or less on those occasions. Meaning, if he can come into the spring with an improved fatigue rate and a better feel for his arsenal of pitches than there will be no questions asked about who will land the 5th spot in the rotation.

Brad Hand: (Lefty Favorite)

Even though Hand doesn’t have the strongest starting resume when compared to the likes of Tom Koehler and David Phelps, he made a case to be looked at this spring by the Marlins organization based on the numbers he was able to put up after returning to an injury riddled Marlins rotation in July of last season. Making just 14 starts done the stretch, 8 of which were quality starts and compiling a 3.80 ERA, while striking out a total of 43 batters in just 83 innings pitched after being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. Giving him a 4.66 K/9 ratio, but its his .323 BABIP over those 83 innings that is cause for concern going into spring training, proving that he still hasn’t developed a consistent put away pitch at the major league level. Thus, instead of heading into the spring with a solidified spot in the Marlins rotation, Hand will have to prove he has developed an advanced feel for his off-speed offerings to keep hitters at the major league level at bay, if he wants to land that back-end 5th spot in the Marlins Big league rotation.

David Phelps: (The Underdog Righty)

I think by all accounts it’s safe to assume that Phelps will either start the season at Triple-A New Orleans as a starting pitcher or will end up falling into the same profession as he did with the Yankees. Meaning, if he makes the major league roster out of spring, it will likely be as a long reliever with the chance of receiving spot starts here and there as needed. He will, like the others get a chance though at the starting spot based on what he was able to accomplish in his 17 starts last season for the New York Yankees. Only winning 5 decisions of those 17 starts, but posted a 4.28 ERA with a 6.80 K/9 ratio in his 96.2 innings pitched when he toed the rubber as a starter for the Yankees. For Phelps to come out of spring training as the 5th starter in the marlins he will need to show complete control in his repertoire of pitches and come out with an improved mound presence translating to dominance on the mound that will hopefully cast shadows upon Brad Hand and Tom Koehler, allowing Phelps a true chance to complete for the last spot in the rotation.

With everyone final factored into the equation, and assuming the rotation is already preset with Mat Latos, Henderson Alvarez , Jarrod Cosart, and possibly Dan Haren (in no particular order) these final three pitchers listed above will have their work cut out for them when spring training games beginning next month. So make sure to pay extra attention to the screen when these pitchers take the mound for the Marlins, as they will be bringing their best stuff in hopes of earning that final spot in the rotation.

Critical year for Marlins overshadowed prospect Felix Munoz

Entering his seventh season of professional baseball, after signing with the Marlins in 2008 as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 17, the Dominican Republic’s Felix Munoz finally has a chance to legitimize himself as a top prospect in the Miami Marlins farm system. Munoz should join the ranks of Justin Nicolino, Tyler Kolek, J.T. Realmuto and several others who are projected to be on the fast track to seeing their pictures in a glossy program at Marlins Park.

Docketed by many analysts as a “Sleeper” prospect for the past two seasons, Munoz has given hope to the Miami Marlins organization – along with all the Felix Munoz fans of the world – who had been waiting for his power tools to develop at the plate. Playing in 126 games during the 2014 Season at Single-A Greensboro, more games than he had in the past two seasons combined, he put together an impressive campaign with a slash line of .300/.368/.476 in 560 plate appearances with 16 home-runs. Despite playing in a minor league ballpark that scouts believe to be a “cracker jack box,” Munoz sprayed home runs to all fields. All the while, he showed an advanced level of comfort at the plate drawing 57 walks and only 79 strikeouts and driving the ball for a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson eyebrow-raising .326 BABIP.

 This impressive showing makes his numbers comparable to Top Positional Prospects in the Marlins organization in that same early-20’s age range like Brian Anderson and Austin Dean, who both produced almost parallel slash lines at Single-A Greensboro:
  • Brian Anderson (3B/2B): .300/.361/.496 in 257 PA (Drafted 76th overall in 2014 MLB Amateur Draft)
  • Austin Dean (OF): .308/.371/.444 in 449 PA

Unfortunately, what you do not see in his stat line are the negative intangibles. Standing at 6’2” 180 lbs. it’s hard for Felix to find a home at his listed positions of first base and left field. His lack of speed, proven by swiping just one stolen base over his last four minor league seasons, hurts his chances to be projected as an everyday left fielder. Meanwhile, a proven year-to-year track record of power production is needed to be a lock at first base. These two aspects of his game have kept him off the Miami Marlins Top 20 prospects board since signing in 2008.

Munoz will turn the all-important 23 years old in 2015, and with his notable surge of power at the plate over the past two seasons, he will be out to prove he can become an everyday regular. With High-A Jupiter Hammerheads, he will take the opportunity to become that left-handed power-hitting, homegrown product the Marlins have been searching for. Felix Munoz’s recent performance almost challenges everyone to not have him on their watch list’s for the upcoming 2015 season.

*Note: Please check out the original article posted at (http://www.fishstripes.com/2015/2/19/8042769/miami-marlins-prospects-felix-munoz-2015-season-overshadowed)