Ivan Marin's glove has been tried and true for the Lincoln Saltdogs for the last two seasons, but it's his bat that has been making noise heading into the 2019 season.
The 5-foot-10 Granada, Nicaragua, native returns to Lincoln for his third season after homering three times and recording 50 hits in 197 at-bats for a .254 average in 2018. The 18 RBIs and 30 walks were an added bonus to the Saltdogs' lineup.
"When he's drawing walks and getting on base, it really lengthens our lineup," Lincoln manager Bobby Brown said. "We've got power at the front, so when he is super-aggressive and gets outside of himself, it makes it tough for our lineup to click."
Thirty-one of Marin's hits came between Aug. 5 and Sept 2 as he led Lincoln in the final month of the 2018 campaign with a .348 batting average.
"I'm very happy to be back here and excited for the opportunity in Lincoln," Marin said through the translation of Saltdogs' veteran Curt Smith. "I just want to do my part and help the team win."
Marin also returns to the left side of the Saltdogs' infield after recording a .962 fielding percentage last season to solidify things alongside third baseman Christian Ibarra.
"Ibarra is one of the best defensive players I've played with," Marin said. "I'm very excited to play next to him, and I'm excited for the season for the combination of the left side of the field."
The Saltdogs had an American Association-best .982 fielding percentage in 2017, committing just 65 errors.
"I feel like with Marin and Ibarra on the left side, I feel like it is the best left side in the league," Brown said. "And it's been proven two years in a row.
"We are very comfortable with that, and we had Cesar (Valera) here, too. He was terrific, and now we have John Sansone who is a terrific defender. Pitching and defense, you have to have it if you want to be in ballgames."
Marin went 1-for-2 Wednesday in the Saltdogs' final exhibition game — a 4-3, six-inning victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Haymarket Park.
Sansone hit a three-run blast in the bottom of the second inning and Marin later scored on a Randolph Oduber RBI single to complete the Saltdogs' four-run inning. Marin went 6-for-13 in exhibition play with two RBIs.
Kyle Kinman pitched four innings and recorded six strikeouts. The RedHawks were able to get to Kinman in the second with a two-run home run and a walk before Kinman retired the next three batters via strikeout.
Lincoln finished 2-1-1 in exhibition play and will open the season Thursday on the road against the Sioux City Explorers at 7:15 p.m.