Yelich making his callup case
SAN DIEGO — On Wednesday, it was Derek Dietrich’s turn to get the call. But down at Double-A Jacksonville, Christian Yelich is starting to make his case.
Injuries to Donovan Solano (left intercostal strain) and Chris Valaika (broken left wrist) prompted the Marlins to push forward the development of Dietrich, who is getting the chance to start at second base.
Dietrich now joins right fielder Marcell Ozuna and right-hander Jose Fernandez on the big league fast track. In Spring Training, all three were projected to be with Jacksonville at least until June. But injuries changed those plans.
It is only a matter of time before it’s Yelich’s turn. The 21-year-old outfielder opened the season on the disabled list with a foot injury. After a slugging start, he is tearing up Double-A.
After going 2-for-4 with a home run in a win on Wednesday, Yelich has raised his batting average to .343. On Tuesday night, he had five hits, including two triples and a homer.
“Obviously, we like those guys a lot and they’re going to be a part of the future,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “As to when they arrive, I’m not sure.”
Yelich, ranked 13th overall on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect List, now has 67 at-bats at Double-A. The organization is in a transition year, and ideally would rather have their top prospects get more seasoning. But it’s been tough with all the injuries that have occurred at the big league level.
If the Marlins wait until June, they can hold off starting Yelich’s big league service time clock. And more Minor League at-bats certainly are beneficial to all young players.
Yelich is a natural hitter, who pretty much was big league ready in Spring Training. So for now, the team is letting him refine his game at Jacksonville.
Yelich started in center field on Wednesday, and he also can play left field.
Could he get a promotion before June?
“It depends probably on the health of our outfield and how those guys stay together,” Redmond said. “If another guy goes down, you see how it’s going. We’re running out of bodies. These guys would be next in line. He’s doing well. He’s going to be here. It’s just a matter of when.
“The young guys are coming. In Spring Training none of us anticipated this, but at the same time here we are. The young guys are coming. We’ll make that decision as an organization when we feel it’s the right timing. I’m not sure when that’s going to be.”
— Joe Frisaro