Suns to Host Major League Exhibition Game in 2015

Suns v Marlins3

By Casey Nichols / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE, FL – In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, the Jacksonville Suns announced that they will host a Major League exhibition game featuring the Miami Marlins before the 2015 regular season. The 2014 Southern League Champion Jacksonville Suns will take on the Miami Marlins in a special pre-season exhibition matchup at Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 2:05PM.

The Suns have been an integral part of the Marlins’ player development system winning three Southern League Championships in the six seasons affiliated with the Marlins. A number of Suns made the jump to the Marlins roster over the course of the 2014 season, including Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani & J.T. Realmuto.

Tickets for the exhibition game are on sale now at the Suns box office and online at Dugout Box seats will be $38.50, Homeplate Box seats will be $28.50, Reserved seats will be $22.50 and General Admission tickets will be $16.50. Tickets are expected to be in high demand, based on the success of the team’s previous Major League exhibition games against the Marlins in 2010 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006.

Season tickets for the 2015 Suns regular season are also currently on sale through the Suns Box Office at (904) 358-2846, or online at Tickets plans begin at $120 per seat. Sponsorships and group packages are also available. The 2015 season is presented by Everbank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. The Suns are the reigning 2014 Southern League Champions and the Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins.

Former Sun Stanton Inks Historic Deal With Marlins

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Former Jacksonville Sun Giancarlo (Suns fans knew him as Mike) Stanton has agreed to a historic contract with the Miami Marlins, announced by the Suns’ parent club earlier today.

Stanton has agreed to a 13-year, $325 million contract, a deal that also includes a no trade clause, the first given out by the organization.

This is the largest contract in professional sports history, and will keep Stanton in Miami until he is 38 years old.

This season Stanton led the National League with 37 home runs, and he was also first in slugging percentage and total bases.

Since he was called up from the Suns to the Marlins in June 2010, Stanton has hit 154 home runs and driven in 399 runs in his five major league seasons.

Stanton played in 132 games for the Suns in 2009 and 2010, blasting 37 homers with 105 RBI while helping the Suns win a pair of titles.

The Stanton signing may also prove to help other former Suns sign long-term deals with Miami, with Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna among others that are believed to get new contracts in the next few years.

Now that the Marlins’ biggest offseason priority is taken care of, the front office will continue to look for players that will improve the roster, as the “hot stove” league continues to heat up.

New Role for Barkett with Marlins in 2015

Andy Barkett is the new assistant hitting coordinator with the Miami Marlins. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

There will be a new role for Andy Barkett with the Miami Marlins organization, according to a report last Friday.

Barkett, who managed the Suns from 2011-14 and a Southern League championship this past season, will now be the Marlins minor league assistant hitting coordinator.

For more on Barkett’s role: Joe Frisaro wrote:

Barkett will work closely with position players at the lower levels. At Jacksonville, he is credited for playing a big role in catcher J.T. Realmuto‘s progression.

The move ends Barkett’s four-year tenure as Jacksonville manager. The Suns never had a losing season with Barkett at the helm, and compiled a record of 294-262 along with the 2014 Southern League championship.

2015 will be Barkett’s first season not as a minor league manager since 2006 when he was the hitting coach of the GCL Braves. Before his time in Jacksonville, Barkett managed in Oneonta (2007) and the High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers (2008-10).

Barkett had indicated near the end of the 2014 season that it would be his last year in Jacksonville.

“I’m pretty confident that this will be my last year managing the Suns,” said Barkett on September 1 before the regular season finale. “It’s been a pleasure doing it, it’s been a great experience for me. Jacksonville has become a home away from home for me, there’s probably not been if any better places to manage in the minor leagues than here in Jacksonville. For me the Southern League is a grind, the travel is really tough, especially from where we are. My kids are getting older, I’d like to spend more time at home if possible with a coordinator’s position if possible or something in pro scouting – you never know in baseball.”

Barkett has indicated the change to his new position on his Twitter page, and he is currently managing Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Republic.

Frisaro’s report also details other changes on minor league coordinators, which are important jobs from a Suns perspective as all coordinators check in with the ball club several times throughout the season.

Charlie Corbell, who had been the pitching coach at Triple-A New Orleans, is now the minor league pitching coordinator. Previous pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal is now the rehab coordinator based out of Jupiter, while previous rehab coordinator Jeff Schwartz will be the assistant pitching coordinator. John Pierson, previously the field coordinator, is now the hitting coordinator whom Barkett will assist.

Among those changes that may have an impact on the Suns coaching staff is the Triple-A pitching coach vacancy. John Duffy has been the Suns pitching coach for the past five years, and would presumably be a candidate to be promoted to New Orleans. Duffy has been with the Marlins organization for the past nine seasons.

The Suns coaching staff is typically announced by the Marlins sometime between December and January, as we’ll learn who will skipper the Suns in 2015.


#MarlinsMonday – November 10, 2014

Casey McGehee was named the 2014 National League Comeback Player of the Year over the weekend.

Casey McGehee was named the 2014 National League Comeback Player of the Year over the weekend.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Awards season continues to go well for the Marlins, as a former Southern Leaguer picked up one of the game’s most respected honors over the weekend.

Casey McGehee was named the 2014 National League Comeback Player of the Year by Major League Baseball on Friday, capping a whirlwind season for the former Tennessee Smokie.

McGehee, signed by the Marlins last offseason after playing in Japan in 2013, played in all but two games for Miami while hitting .287 and picking up 76 RBI.

McGehee has also been named the 2014 Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News and the Players Choice Awards.

There was also news that impacted the Marlins minor league coaching situation that impacts the Jacksonville Suns as we’ll discuss in a future blog post later this afternoon.

By #FishFriday we should know whether or not Giancarlo Stanton will be a National League Most Valuable Player, as the award will be announced on Thursday.

Here are today’s #MarlinsMonday links, again check back for an update this afternoon on Marlins minor league coordinators: McGehee wins NL Comeback Player of the Year Marlins shuffle Minor League development staff
Fish Stripes: 2015 Marlins Offseason Plan: Opportunities
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Joe Maddon thanks Tampa Bay with ads in two newspapers
Fox Sports: Rosenthal: Could A-Rod face further discipline by MLB?
Baseball America: Giants A Dynasty? By NL Standards, Yes
ESPN Los Angeles: New Dodgers GM plans to study rival Giants
ESPN: MLB announces all-star roster for Japan tour
Grantland: Five MLB Free-Agent Bargains: When to Buy the Generic Over the Name Brand



#FishFriday – November 7, 2014

Giancarlo Stanton picked up his first Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award last night. Photo Courtesy: FOX Sports

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

It’s award season in Major League Baseball, and two former Jacksonville Suns picked up excellent hardware.

On Tuesday, Christian Yelich became the first Marlins outfielder to win a Rawlings Gold Glove, after committing only one error in 262 chances.

There was also good news for Giancarlo Stanton on Tuesday, as he was named a finalist for the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player award. Stanton will be up against former Jacksonville Sun Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and last year’s NL MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. The MVP award will be announced next Thursday Nov. 13.

Stanton’s good week continued last night when he won his first Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award after leading the league in home runs and slugging percentage in 2014. The Marlins have also began a dialogue for contract negotiations with the slugger, in what will be the most important move the front office can make before the 2015 season.

The Marlins also saw Stanton and Casey McGehee pick up Players Choice Awards earlier in the week, so it’s been a good few days in terms of accolades for Miami.

Elsewhere, we learned former Sun Alex Rodriguez admitted to PED use in January when he met with the DEA, fueling more speculation about what the Yankees may do with his contract.

The Tampa Bay Rays are on the hunt for a new manager after Joe Maddon became a free agent, and they are being very public with their interview process:

Here are today’s #FishFriday links, have a great weekend! Marlins open contract negotiations with Stanton Fernandez progressing; Marlins seek starting pitchers
Miami Herald: Alex Rodriguez’s DEA confession: Yes, I used steroids from fake Miami doctor
Sun Sentinel: Marlins focus on signing Stanton over free-agent pursuit
Fish Stripes: Most depressing moment of the 2014 Marlins season
ESPN: Sandoval seeks 6-year deal; Giants engaged
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Kris Bryant sends fan autographed bat after learning one was selling for $850
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Rays name eight potential managers, including not-yet-retired Raul Ibanez
Baseball Think Factory: Dodgers to hire Gabe Kapler as farm director
Hardball Talk: The Breakup


#MarlinsMonday – November 3, 2014

Jeff Mathis returns to the Marlins for the 2015 season. Photo Courtesy: Steve Mitchell – USA Today

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

I hope everyone had a great weekend as we’re past October and now firmly into November. Having no baseball games to talk about is not ideal, but now we get to fire up the “Hot Stove” and start to figure out how rosters will change going into the 2015 season.

One of the more intriguing Marlins roster story-lines was largely solved over the weekend, as Miami exercised the option of catcher Jeff Mathis, who will be the back up for Jarrod Saltalamacchia in 2015. We had discussed whether or not Mathis would be back for the 2015 all throughout this past season, mainly because of J.T. Realmuto’s future.

If the Marlins were to let Mathis go, there would have been a chance for Realmuto to compete for the backup catching role in Spring Training, but now this move allows Realmuto to continue his development, likely at Triple-A. Realmuto has proven himself at the Double-A level with Jacksonville as a two-time All-Star and the 2014 Marlins Minor League Player of the Year.

Not that Realmuto was expected to be back with the Suns for 2015 anyway, but this also further paves the way for Austin Barnes to be the starting catcher for the Suns on Opening Day, if indeed he sticks with the position after impressing at second base for most of the second half of the season.

While we’ve had news about the Chicago Cubs getting a new manager in Joe Maddon since last week’s #MarlinsMonday, today is the day the Cubs will officially introduce him at The Cubby Bear across from Wrigley Field at 3 p.m. The Minnesota Twins also look to be closer to finding a manager, as they reportedly made an offer to Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor.

As for me? My beloved Tennessee Volunteers picked up their first SEC win of the season in an overtime thriller over Jason Patterson’s South Carolina Gamecocks, and now my focus is getting prepared with what will be a busy college basketball season!

Here are today’s #MarlinsMonday links, lots of great content coming up this week here on the blog and! Nola continues progress, improved hitting in AFL win exercise club option on Mathis Marlins expect to be active during Hot Stove
Fish Stripes: Marlins Snarkbox: Cishek, Bour, Gold Gloves
Fish Stripes: Key offseason dates to remember
Sun Sentinel: ESPN documentary ‘Brothers in Exile’ features ex-Marlin Livan Hernandez
Los Angeles Times: Vin Scully says he’s OK with adding a protege to Dodgers booth
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Royals decline $12.5 million option on Billy Butler, but he’s not ready to leave
Sports on Earth: Maddon A No-Brainer For Cubs
The New York Times: Pitchers, Hitters and a Panda
Smokies Radio Network: Hot Stove Baseball Podcast #1 (Mick Gillispie & Gary Hughes)


#FishFriday – Halloween 2014

The Tennessee baseball team held a scrimmage wearing Halloween costumes yesterday. Photo Courtesy: University of Tennessee Athletics.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Happy Halloween!

Hope all of you enjoy trick or treating tonight and break out some good costumes. In fact, if you wear a Suns costume make sure you send it to us on Twitter @SunsBaseball, and we’ll retweet some of the best ones or post them on #MarlinsMonday.

Speaking of costumes, my alma mater the University of Tennessee baseball team did a scrimmage yesterday wearing Halloween costumes, and the results were hilarious as you can see above and in this video.

Like most major league clubs this week, news was quiet out of Miami while the World Series came to a close. There were some more award nominations for Giancarlo Stanton, as well as plenty of 2015 roster speculation as you’ll see in the links below. There was also this roster news:

The 2014 World Series may not go down as one of the classics, but it will go down in history for one of the greatest pitching performances of all-time by Madison Bumgarner. In addition to his two outstanding starts, Bumgarner shut down the Royals out of the bullpen with five scoreless innings in Game 7 to earn the save as the Giants won 3-2 for their third title in the last five years.

You’ll be glad to say you saw Bumgarner this October and over his previous World Series as well, now having the lowest career ERA of 0.25 in his three Fall Classics.

Many members of the Suns front office had a good week traveling to Mississippi for the Southern League Fall Meetings, and Director of Group Sales January Putt will have a guest blog post about their experience soon here on Tales From Bragan Field.

As for me? I had a great week in Tennessee and got to see my favorite band the Drive-By Truckers perform last night at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Great experience and my ears are still ringing!

Here are today’s #FishFriday links, enjoy Halloween weekend and the Florida/Georgia fun! Stanton picks up three of Marlins’ eight GIBBY nominations Marlins expected to exercise option on Mathis Inbox: Will Cishek be back to close in 2015?
Fish Stripes: 2014 Marlins Season Review: Steve Cishek
ESPN: On the market: Sandoval among free agents
Sports on Earth: Predicting the ’15 World Series Champ
The New Yorker: The Best
The New York Times: ‘OMG. You’re So Much More Than Awesome.’
The Wildwood Ramble: As Giant as it Gets