Prospects Yelich, Marisnick push one another

Marlins duo could soon roam outfield together with big league club

Prospects Yelich, Marisnick push one another

JUPITER, Fla. -- There is a little bit of good-natured "Can you top this?" going on between Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick.

Two of the top prospects in the game, Yelich and Marisnick are developing a close friendship in a short period of time. With each passing day of Spring Training, it is becoming more obvious that it is a matter of time before they are anchoring two-thirds of the Marlins' outfield.

"It's great to see them together, pulling for each other and pushing each other," Marlins general manager Michael Hill said. "It will be good to see them running around together in the outfield."

The past two days, the two received playing time in Miami's home-and-home set with the Mets.

Marisnick, acquired in November as part of the Marlins' blockbuster trade with Toronto and ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 3 prospect, is getting an opportunity in center field. Yelich, Miami's top pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft who is ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect, is playing left field and some center.

When the season begins, the two are projected to be impact players at Double-A Jacksonville. The way both are turning heads early in Spring Training, it could be only a matter of months before they are roaming the outfield in the big leagues.

The Marlins aren't going to rush them.

"They let us know when they're ready," Hill said. "With Yelich, he still hasn't made it above High A. Marisnick has had a little Double-A time. It's a matter of getting them the reps and at-bats and letting them experiencing success."

So far, they are stepping up when their number is called.

In Sunday's 6-4 win over the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, Yelich had an RBI double which tied the game, and he scored the go-ahead run. In the field, Marisnick made a nice catch on Landon Powell's sinking liner in the eighth inning.

Manager Mike Redmond started the two on Saturday at Port St. Lucie. Yelich led off and Marisnick batted second. Both made an impact.

"Those two, I like to hit them back to back," Redmond said. "They seem to feed off each other. They're fun to watch. Anything that goes up in the air out there, they're going to run those down."

Yelich led off Saturday's game with a home run off Matt Harvey. As the 21-year-old crossed home plate, Marisnick joked: "Come on, man, how am I supposed to follow that up?"

Actually, Marisnick did his part. Even though he didn't homer, he helped save a potential run in the bottom of the first inning when he ran down Collin Cowgill's long drive near the wall.

The ribbing between the two came a few innings later, when Marisnick didn't make as graceful of a play on a fly ball. Misreading it initially, the 21-year-old broke back, only to quickly gather himself and sprint in to make the play.

Still, Yelich had some fun with his friend.

"I thought he was going to catch [Cowgill's drive]," Yelich said. "I didn't think he was going to catch the ball in front of him."

"Keep everyone on their seats," Marisnick countered.

Although Marisnick is new to the Marlins organization, he is familiar with Redmond, who managed him at Class A Dunedin. The Marlins' first-year manager gave the rest of the front office a quick scouting report on Marisnick.

"I told these guys that he can play center field in the big leagues right now," Redmond said.

It will come down to how he hits to decide when he gets his first big league chance. You don't want to get fooled by Grapefruit League numbers, but so far Marisnick is batting .556 (5-for-9).

Marisnick and Yelich competed against each other last year in the Florida State League. But they didn't get to know each other until the Arizona Fall League. They met before the November trade, and have spoken more regularly after Marisnick was traded to Miami. They like to go back and forth at each other.

"I texted him," Yelich said. "He was supposed to come out and say, 'What's up?' But he blew that off."

The two are California natives, with Marisnick from Riverside and Yelich from Thousand Oaks.

"I wanted to play a little golf with him in the offseason, but the kid doesn't golf," Marisnick said.

When it comes to baseball, they are all business.

"I think it's gone pretty well," Yelich said. "I think it's been a pretty seamless transition. I feel comfortable hitting leadoff. I think he's pretty comfortable hitting second. I don't know how that is going to translate into the year."

The two are staying at the same hotel in the Jupiter area, and will likely be roommates in Jacksonville.

"For them, being here is just the experience, and the exposure to Major League players and pitching," Hill said. "That's why they're here in camp, to get that exposure, and for our staff to see them, and for them to see our staff and familiarize themselves with them."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.