Yelich, Marisnick hope familiarity breeds success
Marlins' top two prospects debut together after getting call from Double-A
DENVER -- On Monday, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick chatted in a dugout in Kodak, Tenn., sorting out the potential explanations for why they were benched in the middle of a game.
Close friends, Yelich and Marisnick knew this could be the long-awaited sign of a big league callup. But they remained cautiously optimistic. After playing the first few innings for Double-A Jacksonville, the two sat in the dugout for what Yelich said felt like "the longest six or seven innings" he had ever watched.
"Our minds were kind of racing," Marisnick said. "We didn't really know what the final verdict would be, but we just talked to each other the whole time and waited. After we found out, we were both really excited."
It was not until after the game that Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett delivered the news to the entire clubhouse: Both would be playing for the Marlins at Coors Field the next day. Instead of an eight-hour, overnight bus ride to Montgomery, Ala., Yelich and Marisnick would be on a plane to Denver on Tuesday morning.
Following a celebration with teammates, they both called their families to deliver the news. Yelich's first call was to his mother, Alecia, his dream since he started playing Little League ball finally realized.
"It was pretty special to call her and be like, 'Hey, think you can get up to Colorado tomorrow?'" Yelich said. "She was happy, she was real excited and she'll be here tonight.
"You've worked for it every day of your life since you were 4, and it's just pretty special now that the day is here, and you're in a Major League ballpark and you're playing a Major League Baseball game."
Yelich shined in his debut, driving in two of the Marlins' four runs in a 4-2 win over the Rockies at Coors Field and finishing 3-for-4 with three singles. He became just the third Marlins player to gather three hits in his first Major League game, joining his own manager, Mike Redmond, and Giancarlo Stanton.
Marisnick's debut was much quieter, as he went 0-for-4 with two groundouts and two flyouts. But neither could deny that it was surreal to move from Double-A to baseball's biggest stage overnight.
"Jake and I were watching the game last night on TV, and we knew we coming here at that point," Yelich said. "We were just saying, 'Hey, man, we're going to be playing on that field tomorrow night.' To actually be able go out there and do that, and for us to get a 'W,' that's a special night."
Redmond said he expected them to energize the offense immediately, and Yelich certainly did so.
It reminded Redmond of his own debut on May 31, 1998, when he went 3-for-3 with a home run at Milwaukee County Stadium, the Brewers' former ballpark.
"It was great, it was exciting," Redmond said. "I think any time you get to watch two guys go through their first Major League game, that's exciting. I think all of us who have played know what that feeling's like and have remembered that day."
Yelich and Marisnick agreed it helped to come up together after growing close while living together in Jacksonville and lockering next to each other in Spring Training. Yelich, the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, hit .280 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in his first season in Double-A, where he played 49 games.
Marisnick hit 12 homers and 46 RBIs while batting .294 in 67 games, easily outpacing his 2012 season, which he spent in the Blue Jays' system.
For Yelich, the key is to remember it's the same game he grew up playing in California. The stage is much bigger, the microscope more focused, but it's still another baseball game.
"You can think about it and dream about it all you want," Yelich said. "But going out there and actually living it and being able to be a part of something like this is pretty special and something I'll definitely never forget."
Marisnick, who came to the Marlins in the blockbuster offseason deal with Toronto, will have a familiar face watching him from the dugout. Redmond coached the outfielder for two years with the Blue Jays' Class A affiliate in Lansing, Mich.
"It's kind of a comforting feeling, having played for him for two years and then coming up here and having him here," Marisnick said.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.