The future is starting now for the Marlins' top two rated prospects.
In a surprising move, Miami selected the contracts of outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick from Double-A Jacksonville on Tuesday.
While it marks the big league beginning for the organization's top two prospects, the club also decided two promising young players need more Minor League seasoning. Second baseman Derek Dietrich and center fielder Marcell Ozuna were optioned to Jacksonville.
The moves were announced immediately after the Marlins beat the Rockies, 3-1, on Monday night at Coors Field. To make room on the 40-man roster, first baseman Casey Kotchman and right-hander Alex Sanabia were each transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Heading into Colorado, the Marlins were shut out in three straight games at Milwaukee. The sluggish offense set a franchise record by going 37 straight scoreless innings. The drought was snapped in the first inning on Monday on Giancarlo Stanton's RBI double.
"I want to make this clear: the offensive woes of this team I don't want to be attributed to them," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "That's not why this is happening. I want that to be clear.
"It seems we just had a rough weekend and now we're sending a couple players out: I don't want it to be construed in that manner at all. Those kids did an incredible job. We rushed them here to the big leagues out of need, they had very little to almost no Double-A experience, and they did a great job for us."
According to MLB.com, Yelich and Marisnick rank first and second, respectively, on the Marlins' Top Prospect list. Marisnick was a key cog in the 12-player offseason trade with the Blue Jays.
"I'm excited for Yelich and Marisnick," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "Dietrich, I saw him in A-ball the last two years when he was on the other side with Tampa Bay. I love him as a player and I still love him.
"Those guys both have some things to work on. I think they understand that, and they know what they have to go down there and do, and hopefully they will go down there and work on the things they need to do."
Both Yelich and Marisnick started for Jacksonville on Monday, but both were lifted during the game, raising questions as to whether they would be called up.
Yelich, Miami's first-round pick in 2010, is known for having one of the best swings in the Minor Leagues. He had an RBI double and a single for the United States squad at the Futures Game on July 14 at Citi Field.
The 21-year-old has dealt with injuries this season, missing April due to a bruised right foot. And in early June, he was out with an abdominal strain. In 48 games at Jacksonville, the left-handed-hitting outfielder batted .277 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.
Marisnick, 22, is a speedster and is a standout defensively. He likely will play center field, with Yelich playing in left.
"These are two guys who definitely are going to improve our defense in the outfield," Redmond said. "Jake plays a great center field, and Yelich too. I think those guys will bring excitement and hopefully another boost of energy to this team and this lineup."
The question with Marisnick has been his offense. But he's picked up the pace at the plate in Jacksonville, batting .295 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs.
Like Yelich, Marisnick has had injury issues. He missed April due to a broken left hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch during Spring Training.
"They both swung the bat very well in Double-A, they're both healthy, which we've been waiting for all year, and this is a good time to bring them and have them get the experience, so we're excited about that," Beinfest said.
Sending down Ozuna is surprising, because he's been a middle-of-the-order hitter since being called up the last day of April. Ozuna has a strong arm and he's played center field and right field. In 275 big league at-bats, he is hitting .265 with three home runs and 32 RBIs.
But Ozuna entered Monday in a 3-for-38 slump. He had two hits and a walk on Monday, and also made a terrific diving catch in center field. On the play, he slightly jammed his left thumb, but remained in the game.
"They still have some work to do in the Minor Leagues, they were rushed up here," Beinfest said. "When we just spoke to them, it was in a very positive manner, and deservedly so, because they did a great job. We asked a lot of them, all the way back to putting them in the middle of the lineup right off the bat when [Logan Morrison] and Stanton were out, and they responded and did a great job.
"They're part of our future, and part of our future is coming as well."
Dietrich has shown power, but also has had his struggles with strike zone discipline. The left-handed-hitting second baseman is batting .214 with nine homers and 23 RBIs in 215 at-bats. But he had 56 strikeouts.
Dietrich had an especially rough time at Milwaukee, going 2-for-13 with six strikeouts. He was 0-for-5 in Sunday's 1-0 loss in 13 innings.
"These guys came up with just a little bit of Double-A experience and hit in the middle of our order for a good bit of time and really energized us," Redmond said. "But at the same time, too, we've got to do the right thing for these guys and make sure that when they come back to the big leagues, it's for their career."
With Dietrich out, Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano are expected to see time at second base.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Associate reporter Ian McCue contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.