Miami Marlins' Chris Coghlan at Third Base ... For Now

By Nicholas Crimarco
Chris Coghlan
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Florida Marlins needed some offense in 2009, they called up Chris Coghlan. He was a second baseman at the time and was blocked by Dan Uggla, so they tried him out in left field. With only a handful of minor league games at that position, Coghlan was able to hold his own in left while winning Rookie of the Year. He hit .321 for the season and really caught fire after the All-Star Break, hitting .372 in 72 games.

At the time, the Marlins thought they had a franchise player they could build around and someone that would be a perennial All-Star.

Unfortunately for Coghlan, he struggled early in 2010 and when he finally got it going, he suffered a season-ending knee injury while celebrating. On July 27, after a walk-off hit by teammate Wes Helms, Coghlan jumped around Helms to give him a surprise pie in the face. The end result was him tearing his meniscus and missing the remainder of the season.

In 2011, with the emergence of Logan Morrison in left field, the Marlins asked Coghlan to move to center field, A position he had never played before and needed to learn while recovering from the knee surgery. He showed the ability to play the position at a major league level, but unfortunately his bat never showed up. He hit .230 in 65 games before being sent down to the minors on June 16, and wasn’t called up when rosters expanded in September.

Heading into Spring Training in 2012, just two full seasons removed from winning Rookie of the Year, Coghlan was fighting for his baseball life. He hit .250 and won a job as the fourth outfielder for the big league club. He hit .140 in this unfamiliar bench role before being sent down on June 12 and again was not called up when rosters expanded.

Going into 2013, it was expected that Coghlan wouldn’t make the team and would be released at some point in Spring Training.

The Miami Marlins were going through a rebuilding mode, and it seemed as though he would be an afterthought. They signed Juan Pierre and had Justin Ruggiano and Giancarlo Stanton penciled in at the other two outfield spots. However, Coghlan hit .306 during the spring and not only made the team, but started on Opening Day.

Once again he got off to a bad start, hitting only .180 in April, but turned it around in May by hitting .322 and hitting .381 in June before he was injured again.

The Marlins, in that time, called up their top three outfield prospects in Marcell Ozuna, Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich. So the second baseman turned left fielder turned center fielder was now asked to play third base while recovering from an injury.

On Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, Coghlan started at third for the first time in his career, and went 1-for-5 while making every play that went to him. He hit the ball hard three out of the five times up, and looked like the guy that won Rookie of the Year in 2009. He has played his way into the everyday lineup and could be the offensive spark they need in front of Yelich and Stanton.

The Marlins drafted third baseman Colin Moran in the first round this year. His bat is almost ready for the big leagues, so the question is that when he is ready to play, what position will Coghlan be asked to play next?

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