Can the double-play combination of Miguel Rojas and Isan Diaz jumpstart the Marlins infield defense this season?
The best thing the Miami Marlins did in-season in 2019 was ink Miguel Rojas to a contract extension. With the departure of the uber-popular Martin Prado and changes set to be made for the upcoming 2020 season, having a veteran who leads by example in the clubhouse and works his tail off on the diamond is exactly what manager Don Mattingly needed to help solidify the batting order.
The Marlins are in Year 3 of this process of growth, where the minor leagues are filled with prospects and the 26-man roster is a diverse bunch of players, many of whom have come to South Florida via trade or free agency.
Rojas the one the coaching staff is counting on to be the glue to hold it all together. He’s also being counted on to form a top-flight double-play combination with rising star Isan Diaz.
“From New York to Miami, middle infields throughout the National League East are stacked with some of baseball’s top young talent,” writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
“Most of the double-play combinations listed below are just beginning to jell, though all five NL East teams have at least one returning middle infielder. Here’s a look at each club’s situation heading into the season.”
All eyes may be on Diaz and how he will look after his internship on the second bag last season, but I personally want to see how Rojas plays knowing he will be here in Miami for the next two seasons.
“I’m extremely grateful to be in Miami,” Rojas said. “I’m looking forward to being here a few more years and be part of what we’re trying to do here — and that’s winning a championship,” Rojas said back in September when his contract extension was announced.
“That’s my main goal here. It’s not signing a big contract or signing a long contract or any personable matters. All I want to do here is help this organization win a championship.”
DiComo took a look at the double-play duos in the National League East. There is plenty to like within the division, but the focus for Marlin Maniac is how well Rojas will work with Diaz, who struggled at the plate and in the field after the All-Star break callup, and potentially Jonathan Villar, who is slated to be the team’s starting third baseman.
Should Diaz falter, the veteran can slide over to second and Brian Anderson can move to his natural position.
“The question heading into Spring Training is the identity of Rojas’ double-play partner. The Marlins hope it will be Isan Díaz a 23-year-old who struggled in his first MLB stint last August after belting 26 home runs at Triple-A New Orleans,” DiComo added.
“If Díaz shows he isn’t completely ready, Jonathan Villar, acquired from the Orioles, would likely play second instead of third base and outfield. The other middle infielder to keep an eye on is No. 4 prospect Jazz Chisholm, who may be big-league ready at some point in 2020.”
Mattingly should feel better about his infield and defense knowing Villar is now on board and Rojas is set to begin yet another season in a Marlins uniform to be a mentor to Diaz and the rest of the roster.