Silver Lining

Slow start to pro career had benefits for Skipworth





FORT LAUDERDALE—Sure, the Marlins would have loved for Kyle Skipworth to hit from day one. Minor league catching coordinator Tim Cossins jokes with Skipworth that he's glad he didn't.

The Marlins' 2008 first-round pick (sixth overall) out of Patriot High in Rubidoux, Calif., Skipworth's bat is coming around. He returned to low Class A Greensboro for another season and through 75 games (271 at-bats) had 13 homers. That's one more than Skipworth totaled over his first 113 professional games (423 at-bats).

Cossins characterized Skipworth's early offensive struggles as a blessing in disguise.

"It was an opportunity for him to experience what the position was like on a day-to-day basis regardless of the offense," Cossins said. "He's got a good mindset in terms of that, and he's able to go out there and write off offensive struggles. He knows he can run and hide with his defense. In my opinion, when I watch him play and obviously I'm biased, I'm more impressed at this point with his defense than his offense."

Last season Skipworth wore down and was slowed with a hyper-extended elbow. Skipworth set out to get stronger over the winter and did just that. Listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Skipworth is not done adding bulk to that frame. His increased strength is showing this season, especially defensively as he's shown an ability to shut down the running game, throwing out 40 percent of opposing basestealers.

"He gets after it," Cossins said. "There are not a lot of weak animals playing behind the plate. He's strong and he works hard, and he's very attentive to all the details. "You add in the strength and he's been able to repeat (his throws). He's a lanky, leveragy kind of guy. He's able to control that leverage to his advantage where maybe in the past he didn't quite have a feel."

Cossins also has been impressed with Skipworth's game-calling acumen. The Marlins have given him free reign. As he moves to higher levels in the coming seasons Skipworth will start getting more detailed guidelines.

"Kyle at this point has a feel above where he's at," Cossins said. "That's another facet of his development that most people don't really realize. That's an enormous part. The fingers are huge and how you can control and run a game. You stretch that out over the course of a season, that's wins and losses, and a big skill he needs to develop."

FISH BITES

• The Marlins do not plan to make any immediate hires to replace John Mallee, Brandon Hyde and Tarrick Brock, their former minor league hitting, infield and baserunning/outfield coordinators, respectively. All were promoted to the major league staff in the aftermath of the Fredi Gonzalez firing.

• Triple-A first baseman Logan Morrison was the organizational player of the month for June after hitting .333 with a .924 OPS and 15 RBIs for Triple-A New Orleans.