Around the Horn: Third base

Veteran clubhouse leader Prado primed for another solid year

Around the Horn: Third base

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. 22. As the workout dates approach, MLB.com takes a position-by-position look at the 2016 Marlins. The latest installment: Third base.

MIAMI -- If the Marlins had a team captain decided by the players, the overwhelming -- if not unanimous -- choice would be Martin Prado. During an unsettling 2015 season in Miami, the 31-year-old third baseman was a stabilizing presence and a prime example of how to be a professional.

Prado backed it up with solid production, especially in the second half, once the lingering effects of a right shoulder sprain had subsided. The Marlins will be banking on the veteran to set the example once again in 2016.

Quiet by nature, Prado doesn't even look like he is breaking a sweat. Yet, when the game is over, his uniform is usually dirty. Prado's mark on the game can often go unnoticed, unless you pay attention to things like moving a runner over, grinding out 10-pitch at-bats, snaring a hot shot at third base and making tough outs seem easy.

Perhaps the greatest endorsement Prado ever received came from former Braves great Chipper Jones, who once called him his favorite teammate. Marlins fielders showed their respect for Prado in a unique way in 2015. After the third out was made, whoever had the ball threw it in to Prado, who carried it off the field before flipping it to a fan.

Prado flips into stands for out

Prado's biggest impact last year came after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Once it was clear he was staying in Miami, the organization asked the third baseman to take on more of a leadership role. Prado finished the season batting .288/.338/.394 with 22 doubles, nine home runs and 63 RBIs.

A right shoulder sprain, suffered on June 14, knocked Prado out of action for a little more than a month. He returned on July 17, batting .305/.364/.419 with 39 RBIs after the All-Star break. Prado was especially hot in September, during which he hit .395 with four doubles, two homers and 19 RBIs.

To maximize Prado's production, the club plans on being mindful about the veteran's playing time. Manager Don Mattingly will likely give him periodic days off, which is one reason the Marlins signed free-agent infielder Chris Johnson, who will see action at third and first base.

Derek Dietrich, who will play a number of positions, also is expected to see some action at third base. Miguel Rojas, the club's defensive utility standout, is another option to step in at the hot corner.

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.