Strong Rookie Season From Rob Brantly Could Be Turning Point For Miami Marlins

By Thom Tsang
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If you happen to be a fan of the Miami Marlins franchise, there’s a decent chance that you’re more than a little disappointed in what has transpired this past off-season.

After a disastrous 2012 season, the team’s crook of an owner, Jeffery Loria, dismantled the team by ridding it of almost all of its proven talent (and the contracts attached to them), angering the Marlins’ lone star Giancarlo Stanton in the process.

Not only that, the team then essentially made a mockery of an attempt to fill out a major-league roster, adding the likes of Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco and giving them full time positions.

Can’t these guys even be genuine about a rebuild?

Having said that, though, it’s not as if the young talent that they’ve been able to acquire have been total busts.

Yes, the Marlins will likely struggle in the short term, but players like Justin Turner and Adeiny Hechavarria were considered top prospects, and they could be stars yet in an ideal-world scenario down the line, where they’ll be joined by players like Christian Yelich and Justin Nicolino.

Then there’s Rob Brantly, the team’s rookie catcher, who could conceivably get there in 2013.

The 23-year old, who was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez away, is one of the team’s top prospect, and made a hell of a splash in his first taste of the bigs in 2012.

It was just a 113 PA sample, but Brantly more than passed his first trial, putting up a .290/.372/.460 triple-slash that included three homers and eight doubles.

A big part to his 0.6 fWAR stint was that Brantly showed a batting eye (11.5 BB%) that wasn’t there in the minors, and that’s something he’ll have to keep drop falling off a cliff in his first full season to continue exceeding expectations.

Ditto his .170 ISO power, which would have put him on pace for about 15 homers in a full season. Brantly is an offense-first catcher that profiles more as a doubles hitter, but anymore more than 11-12 home runs with a BA north of .270 would make for a very impressive rookie season that may even see him top 3.0 fWAR.

It’s an ideal-world scenario, but that’s if Brantly can do that and establish his place as a key cog in the Marlins offense (and take some of the load off Stanton), that could go a long way to redeeming this team from one that’s running Juan Pierre as a full-time outfielder, to a quietly dangerous team with burgeoning young stars.

It’s a lot to hope for, but then again, hope is really what the Marlins have to count on these days, because they’re not certainly going to get any help from their owner.

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