JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Christian Yelich is making the Miami Marlins think about his role this year.
The Marlins’ top position prospect spoiled Jon Lester’s five sharp innings, hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth that lifted Miami to an 8-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday.
Yelich is hitting .375 this spring with three homers and 11 RBIs in 14 games.
“Hopefully I’m leaving a good impression, obviously,” Yelich said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s completely out of my control.”
Yelich and Miami’s top overall prospect, right-hander Jose Fernandez, both came to spring training projected to start the season at Double-A.
Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez recently said about Yelich, “He’s ready.”
Rookie manager Mike Redmond defers to his bosses when asked if Yelich could be on the opening-day roster.
“They might come down and tell me to quit playing him,” Redmond said with a laugh. “It’s fun to get him in there. You feel like any situation he comes up he’s got a chance to do something, and he hits a home run to dead center to win it.”
Even if Yelich is ready to break camp with the big league club, the Marlins may hold him back until late April to gain an extra year before he’s eligible for free agency. If he was held back until about June, Miami would likely get an extra year before Yelich is eligible for arbitration.
The 21-year-old Yelich was Miami’s first-round pick in 2010. The 6-foot-4, 189-pound left-handed hitter grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif. A corner infielder in high school, he moved to the outfield in the minors and has been tabbed the Marlins’ center fielder of the future.