One interesting baseball item on Jazz Chisholm’s bucket list. And Marlins mull decisions

Barry Jackson
·5 min read

A six-pack of Miami Marlins notes on a Wednesday:

▪ Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm - who looks like a potential Rookie of the Year contender - apparently wants the last word against the pitcher for whom he was traded.

Chisholm told R2C2 podcast that one of his goals is to homer off Arizona right-hander Zac Gallen.

“I’m not going to lie to you though, the one thing that I really do want to do is take him deep,” Chisholm said.

Gallen has a 2.78 ERA in 21 career starts for Arizona.

Gallen isn’t on pace to pitch against the Marlins when the teams meet May 4-6 in Miami but is on pace to pitch against them when the teams meet a week later in Phoenix.

Chisholm was 2 for 4 in Wednesday’s 3-0 win against Baltimore and is now hitting .326 this season.

▪ Don Mattingly on what he recalls from the day the Marlins traded Gallen for Chisholm: “I remember being down there when everybody was down there talking about it. I’d seen Jazz in the fall league and you see it right away, that this guy has a chance to be a really, really good player.

“So excited when we were able to do that. We were at a point where you felt like our depth in our starting pitching was good. We knew Zac was going to be good, but at that point our positions players weren’t really where we needed to be. And we thought it was a great trade.”

Mattingly suggested we should expect highs and lows, as with any young player.

“Jazz is going to get better as long as he stays with the process, continues to work,” Mattingly said. “The at bats have been good. As long as Jazz continues to work, he’s going to be productive. He’s going to have spells for two weeks where he struggles like everyone else and people are going to ask, ‘What’s wrong with Jazz?’ He has a high ceiling, is fun to watch and can do a lot of things on the field.”

The Marlins don’t see Chisholm’s lively personality and swagger as anything but a positive.

▪ We hear the Marlins are giving very strong thought to starting top outfield prospect J.J. Bleday at Triple A Jacksonville, even though he hasn’t played above Single A Jupiter, where he .257 with three homers and 19 RBI in 38 games in 2019.

Bleday has been working with Marlins prospects in Jacksonville and general manager Kim Ng said “JJ is doing fine at the ATS [alternate training site]. Reports have been decent.”

Ng said it hasn’t been decided where Bleday and right-handed pitcher/2020 Marlins first-rounder Max Meyer will begin their Marlins careers. Meyer could start at Low A Jupiter or High A Beloit.

▪ Speaking of Marlins first-round picks, it was curious that the Marlins opted for Nick Neidert and Daniel Castano over Braxton Garrett for their open rotation spots. Neidert struggled in three starts and was optioned on Wednesday. Castano has allowed one earned run in five innings.

Garrett threw four scoreless innings in spring training but the Marlins have felt no urgency to give him an opportunity with the big-league team so far this season. Ng was non-committal on Wednesday about whether he would be given a chance this time around.

Do the Marlins simply not want to hurt his trade value if he’s brought up and struggles? He made two starts for the Marlins last season, allowing one run in five innings with six strikeouts in a win against Philadelphia, then allowed five runs (four earned) in 2 ⅔ innings of a 15-0 loss to Washington.

Mattingly said he was “happy with the way [Garrett] looked in spring. He came back more physical. One of the things we talked about was fastball location, being able to get himself in good counts. He has a nice clean delivery. Last year he sprayed the fastball and that put him in tough spots.”

▪ One question the Marlins could deal with all season is whether to stick with their two right-handed Rule 5 pitchers - Paul Campbell, 25, and Zach Pop, 24. The Marlins must keep them all year or offer to return them to their former teams.

Campbell - who’s averaging 93.3 mph on his fastball, per fangraphs - has allowed six hits, six runs and four walks with a 7.71 ERA in 4 2/3 innings. He’s 21-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 49 games in the minors, including 32 starts.

Pop has allowed three hits (two homers) and three walks and seven earned runs in 4 ⅓ innings but with five strikeouts. He has thrown fastballs 77 percent of the time and has averaged 95.6 mph.

Pop has more upside; he has a 1.34 ERA with eight saves in 57 minor league games, all out of the bullpen, with 80 strikeouts in 80 innings, as well as 48 hits allowed and 25 walks.

I would expect at least one to stick around all year, and possibly both. Pop seems more worthy of the roster spot - as a longterm investment - unless Campbell starts pitching better.

▪ Unfortunate that two of the Marlins best pitching prospects remain out indefinitely. Sixto Sanchez isn’t close to a return, Ng indicated.

And Edward Cabrera - who hasn’t pitched this season - remains out with an inflamed nerve in his right biceps that was diagnosed in mid-February. He has been playing catch at 75 feet. Asked whether Cabrera should be able to pitch in minor-league games this summer barring a setback, Ng said “that is our hope.”

At some point, the Marlins’ rotation could be five among Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Rogers, Sanchez, Cabrera, Meyer and Elieser Hernandez, who also remains out but is closer to a return than Sanchez.