MIAMI -- The Marlins and New Orleans Zephyrs announced on Saturday that they agreed to a two-year extension on their player-development contract through 2014.
Marlins director of player development Brian Chattin said talks had gone on throughout the season as both sides held mutual interest, but they didn't want to finalize anything until near the end of the year.
"There's a lot to like about New Orleans," Chattin said. "The people there treat us really well, the ballpark actually plays pretty similar to [Marlins Park], so it's a natural fit in that regard, and the close proximity to the Major League team as well as our Double-A [Jacksonville] affiliate makes it real convenient for travel.
"But above all else, the people that run that organization are first-class individuals, they run a really good ship there and treat us great. We couldn't be happier."
New Orleans has been the Triple-A affiliate for the Marlins since 2009. The Zephyrs finished their season on Friday with a 73-67 record, their best since 2007.
"We had heard good things about New Orleans when we first moved there, and those all turned out to be true," Chattin said. "They take good care of our players and staff and it's a good ballpark to play in and call home."
LeBlanc thrives in multiple roles for Miami
MIAMI -- No matter when Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has asked Wade LeBlanc to pitch, the 28-year-old southpaw has delivered.
Since being called up from Triple-A New Orleans on July 1 as a long reliever, LeBlanc holds a 2-3 record with a 2.49 ERA in 47 innings. That includes 19 appearances, including five starts.
"It hadn't been any different, because to me, I approach both the same way," said LeBlanc, who returned to the bullpen when rookie Jacob Turner joined the rotation. "I understand some guys are more ready to do one thing rather than the other, but for me, pitching is pitching, especially with not dominant stuff. You have to maintain the same mindset no matter whether you're coming in out of the bullpen or starting."
LeBlanc made his first start on Aug. 12 in a 4-2 win against the Braves, but Guillen pulled him after 4 1/3 innings and 71 pitches. LeBlanc needed to be stretched out, having tossed no more than 31 pitches since his call to the big leagues.
In his third and fifth starts, LeBlanc reached 102 pitches. As a starter, he is 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA. Out of the bullpen, he is 1-1 with a 1.37 ERA.
In Spring Training, LeBlanc allowed three earned runs in 20 2/3 innings. The final bullpen spot, however, went to Chad Gaudin. As a member of the Padres for four seasons, LeBlanc made just two relief appearances in 54 games.
"Since '08, when I first got called up, I was Major Leagues, Minor Leagues, Major Leagues, Minor Leagues as a starter," LeBlanc said. "Well, here it's been bullpen, starter, bullpen, starter in the big leagues. Obviously I'd much rather do that. It keeps things fresh rather than getting monotonous over the course of 162 games. I actually don't mind it at all. It's fun coming to the field with something different every day."
Solano settles in as starting second baseman
MIAMI -- A little-known infielder the Marlins picked up from the Cardinals' organization led the team in batting average at the end of Spring Training.
Despite this, Donovan Solano didn't earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. Four months later, he had a career-high 12-game hit streak, which ended Friday night against R.A. Dickey. Solano finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the seventh spot of the lineup.
"I learned consistency and just playing the game and having fun," Solano said. "I'm just looking for a good pitch -- the fastball -- so I can have control for that pitch. It's just a reaction for a pitch in the middle. I don't think too much when I go to at-bats."
During the hit streak, Solano went 19-for-44 (.432), bumping his average to .292 entering Saturday. In one sequence, Solano reached base safely in nine consecutive plate appearances from Aug. 20-22, one shy of a club record.
In the month of August, when Solano hit .302 with eight RBIs, the 24-year-old started 26 of the 27 games the Marlins played. With Omar Infante traded -- and both Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison on the disabled list -- Solano has solidified a spot in the lineup as the second baseman.
"It's more comfortable and easy when you play every day," Solano said. "My mindset is a little bit changed about playing every day. I prepare myself and my body for that day. I try to know the pitcher when I face him."
A non-roster invitee to Spring Training, Solano previously spent time in the Cardinals' system, but never got a shot at the big leagues. Now, he has 53 games under his belt.
"It's amazing to see my dreams come true," Solano said. "Here in Miami, they opened the door for the opportunity. I'm so happy to be here. I think about the time from Spring Training to the present, I feel like I've got a good season and opportunity."
Lack of big hits continue to plague Marlins
MIAMI -- Offensive struggles has been a theme for the 2012 Marlins.
Friday night's 3-0 loss to the Mets marked their 15th shutout of the season. It established a franchise high, passing the 14 times they were blanked in 1993 and '96. The 15 shutouts are the most in the Majors this season.
"One of the biggest reasons we're in last place [is] because we're not producing, we're not hitting with men on base," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We were very bad in that department."
Miami ranks second to last with a .231 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Guillen said that what surprised him most this year was how the Opening Day ballclub faced its share of trouble. Each starting infielder -- Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Omar Infante and Gaby Sanchez -- had made the All-Star team at least once in his career. There were two batting champions on the left side.
"I think the burden of this ballclub was the big hits," Guillen said. "Every time we got the big hits, we win games. We've been very inconsistent about getting the big hits, and that's the reason we are where we are."
With younger guys in the lineup since the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Guillen wants the players to learn from their experiences at the plate so that things can change.
"Hopefully this year we learn and we work on it," Guillen said. "How we're going to hit with men on base, what's the approach at the plate, what we're going to take, what pitch are we going to look for. Don't panic. Don't get anxious. I think that we're anxious is more than a panic when we had those situations. We swing at everything around the plate and don't get it done."
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.