Suns embrace roles after promotions

Jacksonville finds ways to win after Yelich, Marisnick callups

Jacksonville is 4-3 since Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich moved up. (Cliff Welch/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | July 29, 2013 7:46 PM ET

When the Marlins promoted their top two prospects directly from Double-A Jacksonville to Miami last week, the Suns essentially lost two-thirds of their outfield and a large portion of their offense overnight.

Finding players to fill the void left by Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick was never going to be an easy task, but Suns manager Andy Barkett has been pleased with how his team has rallied together.

On Monday evening, everything seemed to come together flawlessly.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, three runs scored and two RBIs and starting pitcher Matt Neil (2-2) tossed six one-hit innings to earn his first Southern League win in 10 weeks in Jacksonville's 12-4 rout of the Chattanooga Lookouts.

"We played well and swung the bats well. It was a good team win," said Barkett. "[Neil] threw strikes and kept the ball down and attacked the zone and we had a bunch of hard-hit balls.

"[Realmuto] had good swings and short strokes and played his game. It was a really good night for him, a confidence booster. For him to get four knocks tonight was huge. He needed a rest [Sunday], but he looked real comfortable at the plate. ... It's easy to manage games like this."

Barkett recognizes playing the rest of the second half without 2010 first-round Draft pick Yelich --'s No. 10 prospect -- and 22-year-old Marisnick -- ranked 48th on the list -- will be tough. The Suns lost the first three games after their departure, but they have won the past four.

"We've played well since they left," Barkett said. "It changes our lineup and our team completely. Guys are stepping up and filling in roles and doing a good job. The Minor League season keeps going. We celebrate their successes, but we have to play a game the next day. [We have to] keep revolving players."

Marisnick was hitting .294 with 12 homers, 11 stolen bases and a team-high 46 RBIs in 67 games for the Suns. He saw 52 games in center field, 11 in left and four in right. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the powerful slugger batted .313 against southpaws and .286 against right-handers

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Yelich, owned a .280 clip, seven homers and 29 RBIs in 49 contests. He made 26 starts in center field and 21 in left field. He also got one start in right and another as a designated hitter. A potent left-handed bat, he was hitting .321 against righties at the time of his promotion.

The promotions have meant new roles for several players, particularly those in run-producing spots. Second baseman Derek Dietrich -- who saw 57 games with Miami -- has moved back into the No. 3 hole and first baseman Mark Canha has been bumped up to batting cleanup after hitting everywhere from second through ninth.

"Yelich and Marisnick were both offensive producers for us," Barkett said. "Either one of them can change the game at any time. With them out of the lineup, others need to step up, and Canha is as hot as a firecracker.

"[Dietrich] is a big part of our lineup. He has Major League experience and he can change the course of the game with one swing. Hopefully, these guys will lead us to a second-half title."

The move has also resulted in a new-look outfield.

Isaac Galloway was promoted from Class A Advanced Jupiter and moved into a more regular role patrolling center field and batting leadoff, while Daniel Pertusati has taken over the everyday left fielder's job. Both players homered Monday as part of the Suns' 16-hit attack.

California native Galloway slugged a two-run long ball in the second frame and 23-year-old Pertusati added a two-run shot in the fourth as part of a season-high four-RBI performance.

"We just need him to play his game and get on base," Barkett said of Galloway, who made his Double-A debut Friday. "He hit a home run and stole a base and really played well. [For Pertusati], just consistent at-bats, nothing crazy. We have to get him on base and do our thing."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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