Jacksonville, FL — It is often pointed out how the Miami Marlins struggle to draw fans to their games, yet over and over again, we see players on the big league roster who grew up rooting for the Fish. Recent examples include Jesús Luzardo and former Marlin Lewis Brinson. Could Cobie Fletcher-Vance be next?
“Growing up, I was actually a Marlins fan,” the infield prospect said on Friday. “I really liked Hanley growing up. I like Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre…there’s so many players on that those teams over the years that I could name that I always looked at.” That’s despite being raised more than 700 miles away in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Fletcher-Vance’s favorite memory as a Marlins fan? He pointed to the iconic play that clinched the 2003 NLDS against the Giants.
“When Jeff Conine threw—I don’t know who the runner was out—but to Pudge (Rodriguez) at the plate and Pudge got ran over and he’s holding the ball…That’s the one memory that comes to my mind was Pudge getting ran over, shaking the ball in the guy’s face.”
The Marlins acquired Fletcher-Vance, 25, in the minor league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft. He spent the 2022 campaign with Double-A Pensacola and began this season there again. The Marlins promoted him to Triple-A Jacksonville on April 15. Now, he’s just one level away from fulfilling a dream.
In 18 games this season across both AA and AAA, Fletcher-Vance is slashing .203/.329/.305/.634 with six RBIs. Despite the slow start, Fletcher-Vance is walking at a 15.0% rate for the Jumbo Shrimp (the International League average is 11.8%).
“It’s actually really big because I find myself getting into 3-2 or, you know, advantage counts,” said Fletcher-Vance prior to Friday’s game. “So as a hitter, that’s the count I really like to be in and I’ve been finding myself in a lot more as it’s letting them kind of come to me rather than me wanting to try to go out and do certain things at the plate. So being willing to let them come to me is a big thing that I’ve learned over time.”
The move from AA to AAA comes with new rules, regulations, and the adjustments in competition.
“Man, the biggest difference I think is everyone’s just kind of more in tune with what they do,” said Cobie. “There’s a lot more pitchability when it comes to the pitchers—they know what they’re trying to do and what they’re able to do, what they’re trying to do a lot better. They just make pitches more and that’s the biggest difference to me. You only get one mistake as a hitter. The game’s quick but isn’t as fast as I thought it would be.”
The ABS (automated ball-strike system) has been implemented for all Triple-A games this season. For Monday-Thursday games, it’s used to determine all balls and called strikes. For Friday-Sunday games, players can use ABS to challenge pitches that they feel were called incorrectly by the home plate umpire.
“Personally, I’m 1-for-1 on challenges this year,” said Fletcher-Vance. “There was a ball and they called it strike three and I challenged and I was correct about it. That felt pretty good and the next pitch, I walk…I love the human nature of the game, but it’s such a fine thing and 60 feet away…the umpire blinks, he might miss it.”
The Jumbo Shrimp continue to host the Charlotte Knights (White Sox affiliate) in Jacksonville on Saturday and Sunday.