It took three pitches Wednesday before a ball rolled toward Miami Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz.
“Here we go,” Diaz said as he fielded New York Yankees center fielder Mike Tauchman’s groundball and swiftly threw it to first baseman Garrett Cooper. “That’s one.”
Diaz was mic’d up through the first third of the Marlins’ 3-1 spring training win over the Yankees, giving Fox Sports Florida duo Paul Severino and Todd Hollandsworth insights to how he approaches game day and his comfort level after making his MLB debut last season.
During that stretch, Diaz credited infield coach Trey Hillman for helping slow the game down, said “I’ll hit anywhere” as long as he’s in the lineup and noted how his plan is to “always try to stay on the heater” when he’s at the plate.
Diaz is also still trying to show the Marlins he can be their everyday second baseman. He went through his expected lumps over the final two months last season after being called up to the club in early August. The goal now is to find a way to take his game to the next level.
On paper, he still has a ways to go. Diaz, acquired as part of the Christian Yelich trade, is hitting just .103 this spring. He went 0 for 3 against the Yankees, hitting a ground ball to first, a lineout to first and striking out swinging.
But Marlins manager Don Mattingly on multiple occasions this spring has said they are more focused on his approach than the results right now.
“Isan is a guy, I know the numbers haven’t really shown up as far as the results, but we’re happy with the at-bats and the approach,” Mattingly said. “Our biggest thing with him is keep building the approach, keep having an idea of what you want to do out there because that’s the guy that ends up really hitting. We’re confident in Isan. We like his at-bats. Obviously, the results have not quite been where he’s throwing up hits every day, but we are happy with the way he looks at the plate.”
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Wednesday that Diaz “looks like he’s just off on a few pitches, but his swing looks good and his approach has been good. We want to see him lock it in as camp continues.”
More Miami Marlins notables
FLASH SALE! Unlimited digital access for $3.99 per month
Don't miss this great deal. Offer ends on March 31st!SAVE NOW
▪ Sandy Alcantara, after two rough starts to begin spring training, has begun to turn the corner. Alcantara followed up his strong performance against the Washington Nationals on Friday by holding the Yankees to one earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out four in five innings. Alcantara, most likely the Marlins’ Opening Day starter, threw 67 pitches, 43 of which went for strikes.
“We know we have two more weeks,” Alcantara said. “I’m just trying to get better and be ready for Opening Day.”
▪ Hill has been impressed with presumptive starting first baseman Jesus Aguilar this spring. Aguilar has consistently hit in the cleanup spot when in the lineup and provides needed power to Miami’s lineup.
“I think the first thing you saw was the effort he put in to getting his body in shape and coming into camp ready to compete,” Hill said. “His approach, he’s coming to camp with a specific approach off using that off field and driving the ball to right-center. I think as we get closer, you’ll probably see him spin the field around a little bit and start going more to left field, but I love his professional at-bats up to this point. We’ve always felt he was solid around first base, but he’s active. He’s an active first baseman. He moves around well out there and he’s come as advertised.”
▪ Lefty pitcher Alex Vesia, the Marlins’ No. 27 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline and a 17th-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, threw a perfect ninth inning on Wednesday. That runs his streak of scoreless innings dating back to last season to 41 1/3 across four levels (Class A Advanced Jupiter, Double A Jacksonville, the Arizona Fall League and major-league spring training).