Around the Horn: Shortstop

Marlins can expect Gold Glove-caliber defense from Hechavarria

Around the Horn: Shortstop

Pitchers and catchers begin Spring Training for the Marlins on Feb. 19 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad workouts get underway on Feb. 23. As the workout dates approach, MLB.com takes a position-by-position look at the 2016 Marlins. The latest installment: Shortstop.

MIAMI -- For five months in 2015, Adeiny Hechavarria was a model of consistency. The flashy Marlins shortstop was enjoying his finest all-around big league season -- productive at the plate while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Then, everything abruptly came to a stop for Hechavarria last Sept. 2 after he strained his left hamstring while sprinting to first base. The injury kept the 26-year-old out for the rest of the year, and it may have prevented him from winning his first Gold Glove Award.

• Around the Horn: Rotation | Bullpen | Catcher | First base | Second base | Shortstop

Hechavarria still was one of three National League finalists for the top defensive award, which went to San Francisco's Brandon Crawford.

But at the time Hechavarria went down, he was leading all NL shortstops in UZR (ultimate zone rating). He committed just nine errors and had a fielding percentage of .984.

Offensively, Hechavarria's slash line of .281/.315/.374 marked all careers highs. His five home runs, 48 RBIs and 54 runs scored also were personal bests.

The encouraging news for the Marlins is Hechavarria will be healthy for the start of full-squad workouts.

Graves' Marlins predictions

With Hechavarria at short and Dee Gordon at second, Miami has one of the top double-play combinations in the game.

An advantage the two have this spring is continuity. At the start of 2015, Gordon was new to the organization, having been acquired from the Dodgers at the 2014 Winter Meetings.

Hechavarria has been one of the Marlins' most durable performers since he was acquired from the Blue Jays prior to the 2013 season. He appeared in 148 games in '13, 146 in '14 and 130 last year.

Due to so many injuries on the club last season, Hechavarria was moved up and down the lineup. He got some opportunities batting second, but he primarily was slotted eighth. That's where Hechavarria projects to be again this season.

Clearly, Hechavarria, in his first year of arbitration, is part of Miami's core. But efforts by the club to sign the Cuban native long term have been unsuccessful.

There is no urgency to get a deal done now, but without one, the possibility exists that the shortstop could be traded before he becomes eligible for free agency in 2019. The Marlins have depth at short in Miguel Rojas, who filled in nicely after Hechavarria was injury in September.

But Rojas, who batted .282 in 60 games last year, is viewed more as a utility player. He projects to make the Opening Day roster in that role.

The potential shortstop of the future is left-handed-hitting J.T. Riddle, Miami's No. 13 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. A 13th-round pick out the University of Kentucky in the 2013 Draft, Riddle will be in big league camp. He's expected to open the year at either Double-A Jacksonville or Triple-A New Orleans.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.