First Major League Camp For Riddle

MIAMI—It’s just a 15-hour trip, but it’s been 15 years in the making for J.T. Riddle, who will drive his Ford F-150 pickup truck from Lexington, Ky., to Jupiter, Fla.

Once the Marlins’ 6-foot-3, 175-pound infielder arrives at Roger Dean Stadium on Feb. 21, he will be ready to live a dream come true—his first major league camp.

“It’s a big honor,” said Riddle, 24. “This is something I’ve been working toward since middle school, and to finally be so close is an awesome feeling.”

The Red Sox selected Riddle out of Western Hills High in Frankfurt, Ky., in the 35th round in 2010. Riddle went instead to college at Kentucky, where he played mostly second base but also some right field.

Miami signed Riddle in 2013 after drafting him in the 13th round, and last season was his breakthrough year as he made it to Double-A and even got five plate appearances at Triple-A (2-for-3 with two walks).

“Once you get to Double-A, you feel like you’re almost there,” said Riddle, who played shortstop exclusively for the past year-plus but had prior experience at third base and second.

After enjoying his time in low Class A Greensboro—where crowds of 8,000 were common—Riddle said he couldn’t wait to get out of the high Class A Florida State League.

“The ball flies in Greensboro and then you go to big (FSL) stadiums, and the ball goes nowhere,” Riddle said. “Plus, it’s hot, and there are maybe 200 or 500 fans in the stands.”

Riddle hit .270/.311/.314 in 45 games at Jupiter and improved when he got promoted to Double-A Jacksonville (.289/.323/.422).

With the obvious “Riddler” nickname, Riddle opens up lots of possibilities for creative promotion people at the ballpark, but that’s not the only reason he’s well-liked.

“He’s a really good athlete with range at shortstop,” said Brian Schneider, Riddle’s manager at Jupiter. “He needs to fill out more, but a manager never has to worry about him. He quietly gets the job done.”


• Catcher Adrian Nieto, 26, signed with the Marlins and is a non-roster invitee to camp. Nieto played his high school ball in South Florida before being a fifth-round pick in 2008.

• Righty-hitting first baseman Xavier Scruggs, 28, is another non-roster invitee. Miami could be in the market for a platoon to go with lefty-hitting first baseman Justin Bour.

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