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Marlins catcher Rob Brantly is expected to be the starter for a full season in 2013.
In many ways, these seven Marlins are trying to go from Ryan Gosling in Remember the Titans to Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.
While all seven saw time in the majors in 2012, it was the first time they held a starting job (or a prominent role) for an extended amount of time in the big leagues. Now, they will be asked to maintain the same role for 162 games.
In alphabetical order, the seven Marlins who are expected to do more in 2013 are:
- Rob Brantly: Since arriving in a July 2012 trade with Jacob Turner from Detroit, Brantly has not stopped hitting. He batted .365 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 52 at-bats in Triple-A New Orleans before being promoted to the big leagues in mid-August.
With the Marlins, Brantly shared the job with former All-Star catcher John Buck, hitting .290 while starting 28 of the team's final 46 games. Now that Buck has been jettisoned to the New York Mets, via the Toronto Blue Jays in the 12-player fire sale, it's Brantly's job to do more in 2013.
- Steve Cishek: He was former manager Ozzie Guillen's first choice to replace Heath Bell as the team's closer last year, and he did a wonderful job as he went 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA while converting 14 out of 15 save opportunities. Bell was shipped off to Arizona last October, so Cishek has to prove he can slam the door on the opposition for a full season.
- Nathan Eovaldi: After tasting the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011 (34 2/3 innings pitched), he was called up in late May last season to take the place of the injured Ted Lilly. Then, he was traded to the Marlins two months later in the Hanley Ramirez deal.
Eovaldi threw 119 1/3 innings last year, 63 for the Marlins. Now, Eovaldi is expected to start and finish the season with the big league club for the first time in his career as the Marlins' No. 4 starter.
- Adeiny Hechavarria: It took two-and-a-half years, but Hechavarria finally reached the big leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays last August after signing a four-year, $10 million deal in April 2010.
The Cuban defector stayed with the Blue Jays for the rest of the 2012 season, batting .254 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 126 at-bats. In the offseason, he arrived from Toronto in the 12-player fire sale.
While Hechavarria is expected to start the season at shortstop, some hope he can do better than to be lucky to hit like Rey Ordonez, as Grantland.com's Jonah Keri labeled Hechavarria.
- Justin Ruggiano: The good news is Ruggiano was considered the front-runner to be the Marlins starting center fielder after hitting a career-best .313 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 288 at-bats last season.
The bad news is Ruggiano has missed all of spring training after straining his lower back a few weeks ago. According to the Palm Beach Post last Friday, manager Mike Redmond said he is hopeful Ruggiano can make his spring debut in 10 days. Ruggiano's main competition for the vacant job is Gorkys Hernandez, who is 1-for-13 this spring.
- Donovan Solano: After being one of the last players cut in spring training last year, Solano found himself back with the Marlins in mid-May after Emilio Bonifacio went on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb.
After the Marlins traded Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez in the deal that landed Brantly and Turner from Detroit, Solano became an everyday player. He started 61 of the Marlins' final 67 games, primarily playing second base, and finished the season hitting .295 in 285 at-bats.
- Jacob Turner: Possibly the most gifted of the Marlins' three young pitchers in the starting rotation (Henderson Alvarez being the third hurler), Turner struggled in his two stints with the Detroit Tigers in 2011 and 2012.
Then, he was traded to the Marlins and the light switch turned on. Turner went 1-4 in his seven starts, but had a 3.38 ERA. Turner is expected to be the team's No. 2 starter, behind ace Ricky Nolasco, once the season starts.