JUPITER — To suggest that a young baseball career can sometimes resemble an ill-fated relationship isn’t too much of an exaggeration. Prospects, though enthusiastic, can be derailed in a heartbeat through injury, poor performance or a change of scenery.
Jake Marisnick, ranked as the Toronto Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect, was a highly regarded piece of the future for the Canadian city’s club. Until he wasn’t.
One afternoon in November, driving back to his home after an Arizona Fall League game, he received an unexpected call from the higher-ups. The environment he had fostered his growth in, the one he had been assured a bright future with, was sending him to Miami as a part of a blockbuster 12-player trade.
“It was a little bit of a shock because I was settling in with the Blue Jays, and I felt pretty comfortable,” said Marisnick, of learning about the trade in his car.
Two weeks into his first stint in a major-league camp, Marisnick looks nothing but comfortable. He’s using that word a lot.
“[Coming] into a new organization, you’ve got to go through the process of meeting everybody, seeing how the other players play, how the coaches go about their business,” he said. “That’s been an interesting process.”
Marisnick knows a few other Blue Jays prospects on the other side of the room. He played on the same high school team in Riverside, Calif., with two Marlins minor-league camp attendees.
Manager Mike Redmond spent two years at the helm of Marisnick’s minor-league clubs in the Blue Jays system.
“It’s a little nerve-racking the first time you go somewhere and you’ve got to meet all new people,” he said. “Definitely having Redmond over here has helped me out.”
Redmond led the Class A Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts when Marisnick hit .320 with a .392 on-base percentage and a .496 slugging percentage in 2011. The 6-4 outfielder also stole 37 bases that year.
His stint with Redmond’s 2012 Class A Advanced team in Dunedin was rewarded with a July promotion to Double A New Hampshire. There were growing pains, as there always will be, but he finished his season with a .249 batting average, .321 on-base percentage and .399 slugging percentage between the two clubs, and 24 stolen bases.
Redmond would argue that Marisnick could be playing center field in the big leagues right now, with his range and how easy he makes his work look.
“His at-bats have been good. He’s been disciplined; he hasn’t chased a lot of balls out of the zone,” the manager said. “I’m excited for him because I’ve coached him for the last two years. For him to be here and have success makes me feel good.
“He’s showing what type of player he is.”
Coming in mainly as a defensive replacement in the spring, Marisnick has five hits in nine at-bats and has a stolen base for good measure.
In his past two appearances with the Marlins, he has showcased the defense that makes him such a special piece of Miami’s future, including a diving outfield grab that mimicked any seasoned big-leaguer on Sunday, and a spectacular catch in Saturday’s game at the wall that robbed Collin Cowgill of an early home run for the Mets.
“I thought it was a nice play,” Christian Yelich said, from the locker next door. “To lead off the game, we’re up 1-0, first batter of the game ...”
Marisnick cuts him off. Yelich hit the first-inning home run that put the Marlins on the board and is expected to complete a future Marlins outfield with Marisnick and Giancarlo Stanton.
“Oh yeah, we’re up 1-0. Sorry, buddy,” Marisnick says. “Table for one.”
The two outfield prospects are rarely separated; they’re side by side in the locker room, on the field and not far from one another on the organization’s top prospects chart.
“They stick me right next to him as punishment,” Yelich jokes.
“We’re a similar kind of player,” Marisnick says about Yelich. “Run, throw, hit; it’s kind of the same toolbox that we have.”
The toolbox is a complete one, but neither has developed the ego stroke to go along with the skills. They’re both excited to see what the other one can do and to give each other a hard time on the way there.
“What [the Marlins] have got going on over here, coming from the Blue Jays and not knowing what to expect ... it’s a great clubhouse,” Marisnick said.
“All the older guys are taking us in and showing us the ropes. The younger guys are all pushing to get better. They have a really good thing going on over here.”
As far as good relationships go, it’s not too early for Marlins fans to write Marisnick’s name on their binders.
• Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (2-5, 3.67 ERA in 2012) will start Tuesday against Team Venezuela at 7 p.m. in Jupiter. Right-hander Ramon Ramirez (3-4, 4.24 ERA in 2012 with the Mets) will start for Venezuela.