Every Major League team has one. That one player who goes out and does what he is supposed to do. He comes off the bench when called upon. He eats innings when the starting pitcher falters. He comes up with the big hit when the team needs it most. For the Miami Marlins, that person is Derek Dietrich – a utility player who has his sights set on starting this season, hopefully in the outfield.
“He has been a terrific bench player the past three seasons, hitting .261/.351/.432 while playing second, third and left field,” writes David Schoenfield of ESPN.com. “He could be the regular in left field, and if he produces, he probably gets traded.”
Schoenfield is right. A good season could mean Dietrich becomes a valuable asset to a team making a run to the playoffs. Since the odds are slim the Miami Marlins shock the world and challenge for the post season, it’s a god bet the team’s best players will be jettisoned to contenders.
The Houston Astros selected the 28-year-old Dietrich with their first selection, with the 111th overall selection in the third round, of the 2007 Major League Baseball draft. Dietrich opted not to sign, instead choosing to attend Georgia Institute of Technology, where he played college baseball for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets baseball team. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s co-player of the week from March 23–28, 2010. He also played collegiate summer baseball for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Dietrich played for the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League and Montgomery Biscuits of the Class AA Southern League in 2012. After the 2012 season, the Rays traded Dietrich to the Miami Marlins for Yunel Escobar. The Marlins assigned Dietrich to the Jacksonville Suns of the Southern League at the start of the 2013 season.
Following injuries to Donovan Solano and Chris Valaika, the Marlins promoted Dietrich to the major leagues on May 8, and he made his MLB debut that day.
His value for this franchise may not just felt at the plate, it should also be in the locker room as a veteran presence and on the bench at game time. The Marlins coaching staff is counting on Dietrich, Cameron Maybin, Martin Prado and a few others to set the tone in the club house. It may take a while to learn the names of the new players on Miami’s roster.
Dietrich could still prove valuable in the infield as well. Prado is still recovering from a knee injury and may not be ready to start at third base. The same holds true for shortstop J.T. Riddle. While the Miami Marlins look to play Dietrich in the outfield, they could also use his services where he is needed most. He might be the most valuable player on this team’s roster.