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Three things about… the Marlins

1. Josh Johnson never looked like this as a prospect.

The 2002 fourth-round pick was solid enough in the minors, going 23-25 with a 3.71 ERA before arriving at the end of 2005, but most viewed him as No. 4 starter or maybe a No. 3 at best. Baseball America ranked him as the Marlins' No. 6 prospect prior to 2006. I had him eighth in the strong Florida farm system and 122nd overall. 10 members of the Marlins' top 12 that year are currently toiling in the majors.

Johnson typically worked in the low-90s back then, but he picked up velocity as a major leaguer and is even stronger now following Tommy John surgery. He's often at 94-96 mph with his fastball these days, and given his command and his ability to work deep into games, it's not that far-fetched to label him a Cy Young candidate.

2. Emilio Bonifacio is a long shot to make it as a successful leadoff hitter in the majors.

Bonifacio managed just a .341 OBP in 2,574 minor league at-bats. His only year over .360 came at the ridiculous offensive environment at Single-A Lancaster in 2006. Playing in probably the single best place for hitters in the United States, he hit .321/.375/.449 with seven of his 12 career homer that season. Throw that year out and his career minor league line was .276/.333/.339.

Bonifacio is just turning 24 next week, so it's not like he can't improve further. He did make some definite gains last season. However, he strikes out far too much for someone without any power. He's also not that great of a defender for someone with above average range. The Marlins will have need of an upgrade at third base within a month or two.

3. Cody Ross probably won't be the answer in right field

Ross was let go by the Tigers after 19 at-bats, the Dodgers after 39 at-bats and the Reds after five at-bats, only to turn into an outstanding role player for the Marlins. After a rough 2006, he hit .335/.411/.653 with 12 homers in 173 at-bats in 2007 and .260/.316/.488 with 22 homers in 461 at-bats last season.

The Marlins looked at those power numbers and penciled him in as a starter after trading Josh Willingham to save money over the winter. The problem is that Ross is about to start getting 70 percent of his at-bats against righties now. Ross is a career .241/.303/.426 hitter against righties. It's against southpaws that he's excelled, hitting .286/.349/.592.

Ross is a plus defender in right field, so he's not going to be a big liability if he goes on to get 550 at-bats. Still, it's likely that he'd be more helpful in a role that saw him getting 350 at-bats as a starter against lefties and part-timer versus righties. The Marlins have John Raynor and Scott Cousins as possibilities to contribute come June or July and Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton as potential corner-outfield options next year, so Ross probably won't last too long as a full-time player.

Besides, if he does go and put up a .280-25-80 season this year, he'll almost surely get the Willingham treatment this winter, since he'd be due $4 million-$5 million in arbitration.