Yelich's fluid play drawing praise from Redmond

VIERA, Fla. -- In his first big league camp, Christian Yelich is getting a taste of what it takes to reach the next level. The way the 21-year-old is swinging the bat, it is only a matter of time before he becomes a big league regular.

Yelich was given his biggest chance yet on Wednesday, as he started in left field and batted leadoff against the Nationals. He showed his speed and power on the second pitch of the game, depositing a triple to deep center off starter Dan Haren.

"For such a young guy, coming up to Major League camp, he seems really comfortable," manager Mike Redmond said.

With so many young players in camp, Yelich is performing in a loose atmosphere.

"The one thing about this environment, there are so many other young guys, they feel comfortable," Redmond said. "I think that is important for those guys to be able to go out there and play and show what they can do. He's impressive."

Yelich is one of the top young talents in the Minor Leagues. On's Top 100 Prospect List, Yelich ranks 13th.

The Marlins are looking to start him off in Double-A Jacksonville, and he could reach the big leagues sometime after the All-Star break.

"I have no hesitation to throw him out there in a game right out of the chute," Redmond said. "I think we want to see those young players as much as we can throughout the course of Spring Training, because they are up-and-coming guys."

A year ago, when Redmond was managing Toronto's Class A Dunedin squad, his team faced Yelich, who was with the Jupiter Hammerheads.

"I saw him last year. I liked him a lot," Redmond said. "He has a chance to be a special player."