SAN FRANCISCO -- If there is a better fielding shortstop in the National League than Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins infield coach Perry Hill hasn't seen him.
"I haven't seen a better shortstop in the league," said Hill, highly respected as one of the best instructors in the business. "There are a lot of good shortstops. Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of good shortstops, but I haven't seen anybody better than him."
The 24-year-old, acquired from the Blue Jays last November, is still looking to make his impact at the plate. His batting average entering Sunday was .210 with two home runs and 19 RBIs.
The Marlins feel in the next couple of years his offense will really pick up.
What makes him such an attractive rookie is his athleticism and especially his defense. Hechavarria has committed two errors in 60 games.
A probable front-runner in the Gold Glove race is Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, who has made just one error in 58 games. Hechavarria has a .991 fielding percentage, compared to .996 for Tulowitzki.
"Experience is the best teacher," Hill said. "The more you play, the better you get."
Hechavarria has a flare in the field, and he makes everything routine look easy.
"What stands out is his consistency and making routine plays and making the plays he should make," Hill said. "If the ball is two or three steps either way, so far, you've been out. That's what you want. His footwork and his preparation on throws have gotten a lot better. But he's a worker."
In Miami's win over the D-backs last Monday, Hechavarria made a run-saving play by going up the middle and throwing out Gerardo Parra to deny what would have been an RBI single.
"It picks the club up. It saved us a run," Hill said. "Those are bonuses. I've said it a million times, you want to make the plays you are supposed to make, and those [highlight] plays are a bonus. You want those bonus plays every so often, especially when they get you out of jams."