NEW YORK -- Highly energized by nature, Rob Brantly's challenge is slowing everything down.
The 24-year-old Marlins catcher is winding down in a trying season.
Acquired from the Tigers in July 2012, Brantly was Miami's Opening Day starter. But he's had his challenges at the plate and fielding his position. His inexperience was again evident in Saturday's Game 2 doubleheader loss to the Mets at Citi Field.
Brantly was charged with a passed ball, and he was unable to run down a foul ball near the screen on a play that should have been made. This season has been a growing experience for the left-handed-hitting catcher.
In early August, Brantly was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans, and he was brought back to the big leagues as a September callup.
Brantly's playing time has come sparingly, but he's striving to improve by observing as much as he can, and making the most of his opportunities.
"It's not like you can make up four months of a season that didn't quite go your way," Brantly said. "I think the biggest thing and my approach this last month is to make as many strides as I can in a forward direction.
"I think the biggest thing here is being able to simplify everything. From a defensive standpoint, approaching other hitters and calling a game, simplify my approach. You don't want to over-think and over-guess or try to out-guess hitters. It's a matter of doing what is necessary to getting them out."
Coming out of Spring Training, the Marlins knew defense was going to be a work in progress for Brantly. But they felt confident he would be a productive hitter.
But at the plate, it's been a struggle, as well, reflected by his .215 batting average in 65 games. On Saturday night, he did line a long drive to the gap in left-center, but the ball was run down on the warning track by Eric Young Jr.
"Hitting-wise, it's about trying not to do too much," Brantly said. "I need to make sure I'm getting the right pitches to swing at, and my bat will take care of the rest."
Solano answering bell as season winds down
NEW YORK -- As the season winds down, the Marlins are evaluating to see which players are stepping up.
Donovan Solano is answering some questions.
The 25-year-old has primarily anchored second base, but the question remains whether he projects as a starter or a utility player. In either capacity, he promises to be part of the plans for 2014.
"Whether he is ultimately down the road, an everyday guy, or a utility guy, he definitely has value for us," Miami manager Mike Redmond said.
Solano enjoyed a solid doubleheader on Saturday night, belting a home run and making a couple of key defensive plays.
In September, the Colombian native has hit safely in 12 of 14 games after a 1-for-5 effort on Sunday, extending his hitting streak to six games.
Solano has teamed up nicely with shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to form a solid double-play combination.
"I like his versatility," Redmond said. "Although we've played him primarily at second base, he can play other positions. He can play third. He could spell Hech at short, if we needed to."
Earlier in the season, Solano went on the disabled list with a left intercostal strain, and when he was ready to return, Derek Dietrich had solidified second base. But when Dietrich struggled, he eventually was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.
Solano again returned to playing second.
On a team struggling to score runs, Solano has a .365 batting average with runners in scoring position.
"He's done a nice job of hitting with runners in scoring position," Redmond said. "He gives us a good bat. I like the way he plays the game."
Marlins scouting Cuban slugger Abreu
NEW YORK -- The Marlins are among a long list of Major League teams who are scouting Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu this weekend in the Dominican Republic.
Abreu, 26, defected from Cuba, and he projects right now to be an impact bat.
One evaluator compared Abreu to Andres Galarraga, the former big league first baseman.
In 42 games this year, Abreu batted .382 with 13 homers. He belted 35 home runs in 2012.
Marlins evaluators have been in the Dominican Republic all weekend, and Abreu has been doing private workouts for clubs.
There is certainly a growing market for Abreu, and the question is whether the Marlins can win the sweepstakes for his services, since he likely will command at least $50 million.
Abreu has not yet been granted free-agent status by Major League Baseball, so he isn't currently entertaining offers.
But Abreu isn't the only player the Marlins are scouting in the Dominican Republic. There is an MLB showcase of top international teens taking place. Many of these players won't be eligible to sign until July 2.
Miami has its eye on a couple of young pitchers from Cuba who are at the showcase.
• Nathan Eovaldi threw a pain-free bullpen session on Sunday morning. The right-hander was scratched from his start last Thursday due to a tight back. The hope is Eovaldi can be ready to rejoin the rotation on Wednesday at Philadelphia.
• Catcher Jeff Mathis is getting closer to returning from the bruised his right thumb that has kept him out of action since Sept. 9. Mathis may be ready to return in the series against the Phillies.