The Miami Marlins are always careful not to rush the development of their top prospects, but Christian Yelich is playing like a guy trying to open the season in the majors.
Yelich, 21, has never played above the Class A level. Even so, he's looking like the best player in Marlins camp. Over his first 15 games through March 12, the outfielder was batting .371 with three homers and a team-high 11 RBI.
On March 11, he hit a two-run, walk-off home run to beat the Red Sox 8-7, capping a comeback after the Marlins trailed 7-1 in the seventh inning.
"You feel like any situation he comes up, he has a chance to do something," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's locked in. He's seeing the ball well. He's getting big hits."
Redmond also cautioned against making too much out of performances in spring training, when many players on the mound and on the field are minor-leaguers.
Still, Yelich's hot performance has at least prompted the Marlins to consider him for the Opening Day roster, regardless of whether that's likely to happen.
"That's a tough conversation. I'm sure we'll have to talk about it," Redmond said. "We want to make sure we do what's best for him and the organization. I think we've all seen guys who had great springs (then) struggle out of the shoot, too."
"This kid, he's got a bright future. It's fun to have a guy come in that everybody talks about how good he is and come in and be great. We've all been around guys that everyone talks about how special they are and it takes a while to see it. I'm happy for him ... for all of us."
Juan Pierre will start in left field and Giancarlo Stanton in right. Center field, Yelich's position, is open competition including Justin Ruggiano, Chris Coghlan and Gorkys Hernandez.
Yelich likely will open the year at Double-A Jacksonville. He was Miami's first-round draft pick in 2010.