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ATLANTA, GA – AUGUST 15: The benches clear after Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves was hit by by a pitch from Jose Urena of the Miami Marlins at the start of the first inning at SunTrust Park on August 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

MIAMI – Major League Baseball has suspended Marlins pitcher Jose Urena for six games for throwing at Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr.

Urena hit Acuna with the first pitch of the game on Wednesday night.

The 97 mph fastball hit Acuna near his elbow.

Acuna left the game but did not break any bones. The Braves list him as day to day.

Urena will also receive a fine.

His suspension will begin on Friday, barring an appeal.
MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 10: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 10, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 10: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 10, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

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With Matt Williams accepting a job to manage in Korea next season, the A’s needed to fill the third-base coach’s vacancy. On Thursday, they promoted Eric Martins, who coached in the minor-league system for five years.

The team juggled its staff to make room for Martins, who will be the assistant hitting coach.

Mike Aldrete, who had the role this season, will become the first-base coach, and Al Pedrique will move across the diamond and coach third as Williams’ replacement.

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The A’s said the other coaches under manager Bob Melvin will return: bench coach Ryan Christenson, hitting coach Darren Bush, pitching coach Scott Emerson, bullpen coach Marcus Jensen and quality control coach Mark Kotsay.

Kotsay was a candidate to manage the Giants, but The Chronicle learned he’s out of the running. Christenson interviewed for the manager’s job in Pittsburgh.

Martins, 46, was promoted after serving as hitting coach with Double-A Midland in 2015, Triple-A Nashville from 2016 to 2018 and Triple-A Las Vegas last season. Previously, he was an A’s scout and was involved in signing Matt Chapman, A.J. Griffin and Daniel Robertson.

Martins was drafted by the A’s in 1994 and played pro ball for 11 seasons, never in the majors.

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The A’s added a bullpen catcher, Dustin Hughes, to accompany Phil Pohl. They also announced they’re keeping their training group intact, including head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta, assistant athletic trainers Jeff Collins and Brian Schulman, strength and conditioning coach Josh Cuffe, assistant strength and conditioning coach Terence Brannic and massage therapist Ozzie Lyles.

Williams will manage the Kia Tigers in the Korean Baseball Organization.

A’s keep Petit: Oakland exercised its 2020 option on Yusmeiro Petit, not at all stunning after the reliever appeared in a league-high 80 games and produced a 2.71 ERA.

Petit, who turns 35 on Nov. 22, struck out 71 batters and walked 10, the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career. Opponents hit just .194 against him. His option was for $5.5 million.

“He comes in with guys on base all the time. He can pitch three days in a row, multiple innings — there are very few guys in the league who can do what he does,” manager Bob Melvin said late in the season. “We’re lucky to have him.”

The A’s also declined the $5.8 million mutual option for lefty Jake Diekman, who posted a 4.43 ERA in 28 games after the A’s acquired him from the Royals in July. Diekman is getting a $500,000 buyout.

John Shea is The San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @JohnSheaHey
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John Shea is the San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer and columnist. He is in his 33rd year covering baseball, including 28 in the Bay Area. He wrote three baseball books, including Rickey Henderson’s biography (“Confessions of a Thief”) and “Magic by the Bay,” an account of the 1989 World Series.
Past Articles from this Author:

Four A’s, one former Giant among candidates for inaugural all-MLB team
If Giants willing, Scott Boras-led free agency has game-changing options
A’s Marcus Semien third in MVP voting behind Trout, Bregman

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On February 7, 2019, prior to signing superstar Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak made a big win-now move, trading top prospect Sixto Sanchez and young catcher Jorge Alfaro to the Miami Marlins as part of a package for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

After this trade, along with the acquisitions of Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura, the Phillies had suddenly added four former All-Stars to a group that had won 80 games in the year prior.

However, despite the additions, the team failed to meet expectations in an 81-81 season. But while many things went very wrong for the 2019 Phillies, one thing went even better than planned – the acquisition of Realmuto.

At first, the returns on the trade appeared to just be OK. Realmuto was a defensive stud out of the gate, but was not as good as advertised at the plate during the first half of the season. Heading into the All-Star Break, he had only a .767 OPS to go along with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. That certainly isn’t bad offensive production for a catcher, but not what the Phillies were looking for when they traded a blue-chip prospect for him.

Despite his struggles on offense, Realmuto still earned the Phillies lone All-Star bid behind his stellar defense. He threw out 26 baserunners to lead baseball and his overall defensive contribution had him 25th in baseball in fWAR despite the offensive inconsistency.

In the second half of the season, Realmuto got stronger. He put together an incredible stretch, hitting 15 home runs with a .892 OPS, while continuing to provide excellent defense behind the plate.

In the last two months of the season, Realmuto was especially good, becoming one of the most valuable players in baseball. His 2.6 fWAR after Aug. 1 ranked sixth overall in the National League. His 15 doubles and 28 extra-base hits after the midsummer classic led the Phillies to go along with 11 home runs and .591 slugging percentage, which trailed only Harper.

J.T. Realmuto had an excellent first season in Philadelphia. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Realmuto’s season may have been, statistically, the best all-around one for any Phillies catcher ever. He was the first catcher in franchise history to have 35+ doubles and 25+ home runs in a single season, and his caught-stealing percentage of 46.7 percent was the highest for any Phillies catcher since Bob Boone in 1973.

He also cemented his place as the best catcher in baseball right now. He led all catchers in hits, doubles, extra-base hits, runs, RBIs, caught stealing and fWAR, among several other categories.

No matter the metric, the story holds true for Realmuto’s 2019 season – he was great. It doesn’t seem out of the question that he will get some National League MVP votes, considering he finished seventh in the league in fWAR in addition to being the highest-rated defensive player in the league, according to Fangraphs‘ metrics.

He may become the first Phillie to ever win the Platinum Glove Award in addition to likely becoming the first Phillies catcher to win a Gold Glove Award since Mike Lieberthal did it in 1999. In addition to an MLB-leading caught-stealing percentage, Realmuto improved his framing, the part of the game the Phillies thought needed the most help. He finished fourth among all catchers with 8.0 framing runs above average.

There is no question that the Phillies gave up a sizable haul in order to get Realmuto. Alfaro is clearly a tier or two down from Realmuto, but offers promise as an everyday major league catcher in the years to come. And Sanchez, just 21, ranks as the 22nd prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

But, it certainly seems that the Phillies made the right decision when they sent these two very talented players packing in this acquisition. Their next move should and will be to try to give Realmuto an extension this offseason. There is mutual interest from Realmuto, too, and it seems more to be a matter of when and for how much, not if, he will sign an extension.

Catchers typically have a shorter peak than other position players, and one of Realmuto’s prime years was wasted in this lost 2019 season. He started 130 games at catcher in 2019, the most in baseball, and his season ended early after dealing with right knee soreness that led to a meniscus cleanup, showing the fragility of the position.

Realmuto will be 29 in 2020, and the Phillies need to capitalize on having the best catcher in baseball in his prime. Trading for him was a win-now move, and Sanchez and Alfaro were valuable pieces to give up. The Phillies have to back it up by bolstering the current roster in a vital offseason.

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It’s not common to see teams make trades with division rivals. When the New York Mets have made trades with the Miami Marlins, they tend to come away on top.

The New York Mets and Miami Marlins are not opposed to making trades together. In a ten-year span in the late 1990s and into the new millennia, the two teams made several transactions. For the Mets, they managed to swipe away four incredibly important players from South Florida.
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The Marlins are an organization best known for trading away its players. After winning the 1997 and 2003 World Series, the franchise underwent rebuilds. The rebuild after 1997 was much more crippling to the franchise.

It was after this historic championship the Mets and Marlins began a tradition of moving veterans for minor leaguers. Just a few months after a championship in Miami, the Mets managed to pick up one of their starting pitchers in a February deal.
Welcome to New York, Mr. Leiter

Al Leiter spent two seasons with the Marlins before joining the Mets for seven. He was an All-Star in 1996 and more of a back-of-the-rotation arm in 1997. His poor postseason performance made it easy for the Marlins to swap him with a divisional opponent. Thank goodness they did. Leiter went on to have a brilliant career with the Mets.

In order to bring the Toms River native to Flushing, the Mets sent Rob Stratton, Jesus Sanchez, and A.J. Burnett to the Marlins. By far the most notable in this trade was Burnett whose time with the Marlins spanned seven seasons and even included a no-hitter.

Also headed to New York was Ralph Milliard. His time with the blue and orange squad included 10 games and only a single plate appearance. As far as this trade goes, it was Leiter for three prospects. Only one of them panned out.

Although Burnett had a good career with the Marlins, he missed most of 2003 when the team won the World Series. Based on what the Mets got from Leiter, there’s nothing to complain about in this first of several important trades with the Fish.

Leiter’s career with the Mets included 95 wins and a 3.42 ERA. He never once finished with a below .500 record and didn’t see his ERA rise higher than 4.23 in any season. For this period of baseball when home runs were flying out of ballparks aplenty, it’s an even more impressive achievement.

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Twenty-two years ago, the Red Sox were coming off a disappointing season where they were an AL East also-ran and big offseason moves were being contemplated for the franchise.

Sound familiar?

Only general manager Dan Duquette, whose team had finished 78-84 and in fourth place in the division, wasn’t looking to shed payroll, but add to either the bullpen or starting rotation.

JOHN TOMASE: Red Sox will be shopping from the discount rack this offseason

They chose to target the rotation and specifically, to go after the Montreal Expos’ Cy Young Award-winning, 26-year-old ace in a trade – rather than Marlins closer Robb Nen, who had just helped that franchise win its first World Series.

The result was a franchise-altering trade for Pedro Martinez, who tweeted his thanks for the move Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the deal – some would say “steal” – that brought him to Boston.

The Sox traded pitching prospect Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Expos for Martinez, then signed him to a six-year, $75 million contract. Duquette had traded for Martinez once before, four years earlier, when, as GM of the Expos, he acquired Martinez from the Dodgers.

Martinez, of course, would go on to go 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in seven seasons in Boston, some of which were the most dominant ever for a pitcher. His final season culminated with the first Red Sox World Series title since 1918.

So, all new Red Sox baseball boss Chaim Bloom has to do is pull off a deal like that. Simple, right?

MORE TOMASE: What this complicated, 3-way trade tell us about Chaim Bloom>>>

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Pedro Martinez tweets his thanks for the trade that brought him to the Red Sox – 22 years ago today originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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Marc Topkin’s not necessarily complete list of 10 memorable (not necessarily the best) Rays pitching performances:

• Wilson Alvarez, vs. Tigers, March 31, 1998: The first pitch in franchise history was certainly the start of something.

• Tony Saunders, vs. Orioles, April 22, 1999: His star-crossed career, which ended prematurely after he twice broke his arm throwing a pitch, included this wild outing in which he walked seven but had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings.
Dewon Brazelton can only watch as Marlin Mike Lowell’s eighth-inning ground rule double sails. (Times, 2004)

• Dewon Brazelton, vs. Marlins, June 25, 2004: Not a lot went right for the Rays’ 2001 first-round pick, which made it all the more remarkable he carried a no-hitter two outs into the eighth.

RELATED: Rays make pitch for history, come three outs shy of a combined perfect game

• James Shields, vs, Angels, May 9, 2008. He allowed a third-inning single and nothing else in a complete game shutout. On Oct. 2, 2012, he had 15 Ks.

• Matt Garza, vs. Tigers, July 26, 2010: The first, and to this point, only no-hitter thrown by the Rays. There have been five against them.
David Price delivers to the Rangers during the first inning of an American League wild-card tiebreaker baseball game Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

• Davd Price, vs. Rangers, Sept. 30, 2013: For all the criticism Price has taken over his postseason record (until last year), he stepped up massively in what essentially was a playoff game — the win to get in Game 163 — and threw a complete game, allowing two runs.

• Chris Archer, vs. Angels, June 2, 2015: Put on a show with his slider in striking out a team-record tying 15, put himself in the conversation as a top starter. Then he retiried his first 19 on July 29, 2015, vs. the Tigers (6 1/3 innings the prior longest perfect game bid) and throwing a one-hit shutout vs. the Astros Aug. 20, 2015.

RELATED: Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays are nearly perfect

• Steve Geltz, June 9-24, 2015: The usually inconsistent reliever got in a remarkable groove, retiring 32 batters over the course of nine games. And a kiss from Paula Abdul was somehow involved.
Matt Andriese (35) gets doused by Chris Archer (22) after the game against the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field on May 14, 2016. The Rays beat the Athletics 6-0. (Times, 2016)

• Matt Andriese, vs. A’s May 14, 2016: This two-hit shutout was good, but what makes it special is that the Rays have not thrown a complete game since, an odd piece of major-league history.

• Ryne Stanek and Ryan Yarbrough, vs. Orioles, July 14, 2019: There wasn’t much flashy on the mound or in the field, but they came within three outs of some amazing history.

Have some other ideas? Sent them to us via email, at [email protected] or via Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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Was this season the last season former Marlins star Martin Prado will put on a Major League uniform. Has he decided to call it a career?

If rumors are correct, then Martin Prado’s final game of the season with the Miami Marlins will be remembered as the final game of this Major League career.

The one-time All-Star finished off 2019 with the 100th home run of his career in a Marlins victory. One of the most respected players to ever put on a uniform in Miami has told friends he is done on the diamond, according to both Jon Heyman and Call to the Pen.

The Marlins had already announced that Prado would not be brought back next season, while meant he became a free agent the day after the Washington Nationals captured the World Series. The fan-favorite spent more time on the disabled list the past three seasons than he did in the lineup. His ability to play multiple positions was the key to his longevity in the Majors, where he spent time with the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and the Marlins.
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At different points of his career, Prado has played at every position except in centerfield, catcher and on the mound.

“During his major league career, Martin Prado was the type of player any franchise would like to have,” writes David Hill of Call to the Pen. “Despite his limited power, Prado was a solid hitter, showing excellent contact skills and a strong batting eye. He was also versatile defensively, spending time around the infield and at both corner outfield positions. In a perfect world, Prado was the perfect utility man.”

The move by the organization to let Prado walk instead of bringing him back for at least one more season is a sign the franchise will continue to move forward with younger players on the 26-man roster. It also means the Marlins will look to free agency or the trade market to add a veteran or two to provide leadership on the field and in the clubhouse.

It wasn’t just the fact he was a clutch hitter for the teams he played for, as Hill points out, but defensively he showed he could be effective wherever he played on the diamond.

Martin Prado has told friends he will likely retire. Very nice career, fine leader but last few years were injury plagued.

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2019

“Prado was also a strong defensive player. He had over 250 appearances at left, second, and third, with the majority of his time coming at the hot corner,” Hill adds.

“In just 793 games at third, Prado saved 27 runs, which was the ninth-best amongst active third basemen. He also saved 13 runs in left, and led the league with 15 runs saved in 2012.”

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Amongst all the potential in the Miami Marlins farm system, outfielder Jesus Sanchez is considered the most “untouchable” on the 40-man roster.
MLB.com’s Will Leitch has me salivating a bit after reading his latest story about each team’s most untouchable player. I have to say I was a bit surprised he chose Marlins outfielder Jesus Sanchez who has yet to play an inning in Marlins Park.

While the pick is surprising, it also makes sense if you look at the bigger picture of how this organization has been built the past two seasons.

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“The offseason is here, which means there are no Major League Baseball games for several months. That is bad,” Leitch writes. “But we are about to see a lot of players change teams over the winter, and that is always exciting and disorienting, so that part is definitely good. But some guys — there are some guys your team just can’t do without.”

Sanchez could be that kind of player in South Florida and as the team’s No. 3 prospect in the minors, he should immediately contend for one of the open outfield spots on the roster in Spring Training. It’s three months away from that happening, but the hype train for Sanchez, who is also ranked 51st of the top 100 minor league prospects by MLB Pipeline, could make his way to the Majors with a solid camp.

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Sanchez was the prospect the Marlins got in return for pitchers Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards at the MLB Trade Deadline. He was also a consideration this past offseason when the Tamo Bay Rays were considered a contender to land catcher J.T. Realmuto. The 22-year-old has been on this team’s radar for some time.

“The Marlins were a little bit more interesting last year than you might have noticed, and they have a lot of interesting young pieces on the verge of debuting. To be fair, none of them is so good so as to be deemed “untouchable,” but we’ll go with Sánchez — who came from the Rays in the Nick Anderson trade this summer — because he is their best position prospect close to the Majors. Just wait until this guy, righty Sixto Sánchez, outfielder JJ Bleday and shortstop Jazz Chisholm get here,” Leitch adds.

After seeing both Sixto Sanchez and Chisholm in Jacksonville this past season, it just brightens the Marlins outlook on the future. With time will come results. Sanchez coming over from the American League and immediately producing in the Marlins farm system gives u, even more,e hope for the next few seasons.

Per MLB.com, “Sanchez’s athleticism and above-average speed serve him well in right field, where he projects as at least an above-average defender with a strong arm. He has the requisite offensive profile for the position, too, as a potential middle-of-the-order run producer.”

The franchise could certainly use that kind of production next season, whether it is out of the gate on Opening Day or when he is brought up from Triple-A because of injuries to Major Leaguers or a lack fo production in the team’s lineup.

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Over 1,600 players reached 50 innings pitched during the 2019 Minor League Baseball season, from Triple-A all the way down to the various Rookie ball circuits. Out of all of those pitchers, a Marlins prospect ranked sixth overall in terms of strikeout percentage—sixth—and you may not even know his name. That prospect is reliever Alex Vesia, a 2018 17th-round draft pick from NCAA Divison II Cal State East Bay.

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You will not find Vesia on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Marlins prospects list, but you will find him in the bullpen during the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game on Saturday.

The distinction is the latest chapter in a dominant 2019 for the left-hander. Vesia started the year at Single-A Clinton after getting his feet wet with the GCL Marlins and Batavia Muckdogs the previous summer. In 19 appearances, the 23-year-old went 1-2 with a 2.56 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 51:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those stats earned him a promotion to High-A Jupiter on June 20, but that would actually turn out to be his worst “slump” all season.

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With the Hammerheads Vesia pitched 18 2⁄3 innings, allowing only one walk compared to 24 punch-outs. He picked up one save in two attempts, and finished with a 4-0 record and a 1.93 ERA. Going from strength to strength, Vesia was promoted again on August 1, and did not allow a single run for the rest of the season. Over 16 1⁄3 frames at Double-A Jacksonville he struck out 25 batters and produced a WHIP of 0.55. Overall, Vesia posted a 1.76 ERA over 66 2⁄3 innings across three levels during the regular season, along with a 38.2 K% and 13.50 K/9. Just in case that did not impress, he has struck out 11 batters over 7 1⁄3 scoreless innings in the AFL thus far.

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The Miami Marlins need to solidify who’s going to be their backup catcher in 2020.
Jorge Alfaro is the undisputed starter for the 2020 Miami Marlins at backstop, but being a catcher in the majors is physically demanding. A backup catcher is important in that they can step in when the starter goes down, or give the starter an off day now and then.

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For two seasons now, Bryan Holaday has been a very solid backup to Alfaro and J.T. Realmuto before him. Holaday was weak at the plate in 2018, with a .205/.261/.258 slashline, but more than made up for it by leading the National League with a 45 percent kill-rate on runners trying to steal.

This past season, Holaday only nabbed 20 percent, but his hitting was much improved over 43 games, to the tune of a .278/.344/.435 line. In 668 1/3 innings combined between the two seasons, he was guilty of one error and two passed balls. That’s incredible, if you didn’t know already.

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Also logging time at catcher for the 2019 Miami Marlins were Chad Wallach, Tyler Heineman, and Wilkin Castillo. Will one of these four fill the coveted number two catcher roster spot for the Marlins? Will they dig deeper into the existing system? Will they look outside for help through free agency? How about a trade? We’ll have to wait and see how things develop in Spring Training, but in the meantime, we can make a few guesses.

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I went on about this at some length in an article a few days ago, here. The Crib notes version is this – J.D. Osborne is likely the best hitting catcher in the system, outside of Alfaro and the 2019 version of Holaday. Nick Fortes, Dustin Skelton, and Will Banfield all wait in the wings, with Banfield as the heir apparent to Alfaro in a few years. Down at the rookie level, Casey Combs and Cameron Barstad lurk, if one of the others don’t work out.

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As I’ve previously stated, I believe that Banfield is the answer to the long-term question behind the dish, and I think Skelton will shape into a fine backup in time. They won’t be ready for the 2020 season, so what about looking outside?

Livin life with no complaints pic.twitter.com/CfRPWbRycH

— Alex Vesia (@Alex_Vesia) September 28, 2019
Vesia may just be growing into a dominant closer on a currently closer-less team. While he was not often used in such a role in 2019, he displays all of the tools of a lock-down, late-inning specialist. He possesses a mid-90s fastball, has great control of the strike zone, and definitely owns a strikeout pitch. Only one of those things can be said about José Ureña, who posted a 9.00 ERA after being moved to the bullpen this year.

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All in all, the Marlins ‘pen is arguably the worst in MLB, the only one in the league that performed below replacement level in 2019, according to FanGraphs. The current talent level may be even lower than that suggests, moving forward without the services of Sergio Romo and Nick Anderson.

Continuing on this trajectory, Vesia is a potential major league call-up as early as next season. Easier said than done, though—fellow prospect Tommy Eveld looked to have similar promise after being acquired by trade from the Diamondbacks, but seemed to hit a wall (7.71 ERA) when he reached Triple-A and still hasn’t debuted at the highest level.

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In short, Alex Vesia is very, very good and could end up being one of the steals of the 2018 draft. The lefty should start to appear across the industry’s top prospect lists during the offseason. Look for Vesia to be seriously considered for a non-roster invite to 2020 Spring Training.