Photo by Joseph Guzy/Miami Marlins

They came, they played, they won us over.  In this annual installment, we recognize and examine the Marlins’ top minor league performers at their respective positions. Presenting our 2019 All-Fish Team.

Just after the second year anniversary of Jeter and Co. taking over the helm, the list just so happens to be riddled with first-year acquisitions and 2019 draft picks. Translation: they’re doing this rebuild thing correctly.

C Dustin Skelton
A- – 24 G, .224/.321/.269, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 23/7 K/BB; 12/8 SB/CS, 1.000 FPCT

At what is by far the thin(nest) position in the Marlins’ system, one young backstop stood out this season: 2019 10th-rounder Dustin Skelton. Small sample of just 24 games aside, the 22-year-old stood out by way of being able to very quickly translate collegiate credence into professional production. Despite having never played in wood bat leagues, it only took Skelton 13 games worth of .150/.277/.200 ball for him to hit .333/.387/.370 in his final 11 of the season. While his bat began to come around, Skelton played perfect defense all year recording 137 outs out of 150 times that he touched the ball, including catching 40% of those who attempted to steal on his arm. Probably most impressive on the defensive side though is that Skelton only allowed two passed balls while catching his short season teammates.

Skelton is an average-sized 6’, 200 physical specimen but in his heart, mind and in the way that he puts every ounce and inch of his frame to use, he is gargantuan. A great receiver with fantastic movement whether it be while popping or while moving laterally into blocks, Skelton is a naturally gifted defensive backstop. A guy who did a lot of work on his offensive approach shortening his swing while also tempering timidity in between his sophomore and junior years at Mississippi State, Skelton slashed .316/.385/.517 in his final collegiate season, earning his 18th round draft slot, up from the 36th round in 2018. After finishing his calendar year advantageously and proving the adjustments he made at the dish last season made him much more professionally ready, Skelton, despite currently being at the deep end of the prospect pool, is primed to make a big splash, likely with the Clinton LumberKings, in 2020.

Evan Edwards (Photo by MiLB.com)

1B Evan Edwards
A-/A – 73 G, .281/.357/.442, 9 HR, 25 XBH, 50 RBI, 83/30 K/BB

After going unreceuited out of high school and spending his freshman season playing JuCo ball, Edwards, like his fellow 2019 draftee Skelton, quickly made a name for himself and caught the attention of Marlins area scouts. Following a ridiculous .342/.542/.730, 17 HR, 52/59 K/BB single season at UNC Lancaster, Edwards cracked the Division I ranks with North Carolina State. In his first season as a member of the Wolfpack, Edwards led the Wolfpack on their 2018 Regional finals run by slashing .297/.419/.564. Amongst full time starters, he paced the club in OBP, BB% (16.7) and HR% (6.1). Edwards’ 15 total homers placed second on the club. Reminder: this was his inaugural season at the Division I level.

Last season, Edwards, a senior, solidified his status as a top-5 round pick by appearing in all 61 of the Wolfpack’s games and slashing .330/.465/.604 with another 14 homers. Edwards led the squad in multiple stat categories including BA and RBI (60). For the second time in his collegiate career, Edwards walked more than he struck out (47/51 K/BB). The cherry on top of a spectacular offensive campaign was an equally stellar defensive showing. Playing one of, if not the most frequently called-upon positions in the game, Edwards did not commit a single error and recorded 30 assists.

Noticing his immediate adaptation and success at the D1 level both statistically and humanely, the Marlins jumped on Edwards I’m the fourth round with the 111th overall selection. Negotiations with Edwards (if they existed at all) were very brief and ended with Miami inking him right at slot value ($522K).

“I got the call with an offer, and I took it,” Edwards explained regarding his signing “negotiations”. “I’m a senior, so I didn’t have much leverage on the (signing bonus). I took the first thing offered to me and I’m happy with the deal. I’m ready to go wherever they want me to go and play (at whatever level) they want me to play.”

In his first season as a pro hitting with woods bats for the first time (save two ABs in a showcase league in his freshman year), Edwards hit .281/.357/.442 with nine homers.

Given the low risk/high reward nature of Edwards’ signing and his age while playing at a thin position as well as his reputation to adjust to new levels advantageously, all signs point toward Evan being fast-tracked through the system. He should start 2019 in high A with the Hammerheads.

A 6’, 200 pound, the lefty hitting native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Edwards makes true of his numerically equal build by exhibiting a balanced skill set and approach. Edwards’ uppercut stroke is tailor made for the power numbers it has produced but, thanks to his plus plate vision and coverage ability, they haven’t come at the expense of a multitude of strikeouts.

“The numbers prove I’m a power guy, but I try to hit for average, too,” Edwards said of his mindset during an AB. “I just want to put the ball in play, to have the best at-bat I can every time I’m up there.”

If Edwards’ pitch recognition skills can continue to improve as he makes his way from level to level, there is a Luke Voit-esque foundation here. Next year, Edwards will embark upon his full-season ball career beginning with the LumberKings.

Isan Diaz

2B Isan Diaz
AAA – 102 G, .305/.395/.578, 26 HR, 49 XBH, 70 RBI, 96/49 K/BB

Get this kid a frequent flier miles card. An Arizona Diamondbacks 2014 second round draftee out of Springfield, MA, Diaz, a Puerto Rico native, spent two years out west before being traded to the Brewers. Another two years later, Diaz joined the Marlins in the trade that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee. However, despite the many names that have been on the front of his jersey (including those worn at six different levels and during two Caribbean Winter League campaigns back home), Diaz has consistently produced more-than-positive results. The most recent of those exports was a .305/.395/.578, 26 HR, 70 RBI campaign with the New Orleans Baby Cakes that earned him his first MLB call-up. Despite only playing in 103 games, Diaz placed 17th in the PCL in homers due to the fact that he hit one in every 15 of his ABs.

On August 4, Diaz was very deservedly awarded his first MLB call-up just before a double-header with the Mets the next day. On August 5, Diaz’s promotion was officially announced and he started at second base in the both games of the twin bill. During game two, Diaz shared in one of the most feel-good moments of the 2019 season. In the middle of an on-camera interview with his father RJ, Isan recorded his first career hit — a homer.

The smash made Isan the seventh Marlin — and first since Jeremy Hermida in 2005 — to homer in his first appearance with the organization’s parent club. Overall, Diaz’s 49-game cup of coffee equated to a .173/.259/.307 line with five homers, 23 RBI and a 59/19 K/BB.

A 5’10, 185 pound specimen, Diaz makes up for his lack of size by swinging a violently quick bat. A power-first hitter trapped inside a limited physical frame, Diaz’s swing gets very long at times, leading to a ton of swing-and-miss potential. However, when he makes contact, the ball jumps. This has led to a fairly limited MiLB batting average (.263) while also supplying Diaz with a daunting extra base hit percentage (42.58%). In order to succeed at the major league level, Diaz will need to improve his pitch recognition skills, become more selective when engaging and figure out a better timing mechanism which will lead to his barrel staying in the zone longer. If this sounds like a tough road to hoe, it is. However, working in Diaz’s favor is the fact that he’s still just 22, playing for a club in the young stages of a total rebuild.

With Starlin Castro out of the picture, Diaz will get his chance to start every day for the Marlins this coming season. An undersized, power-first middle of the order bat, we place Diaz’s ceiling at that former Marlin Dan Uggla.

Nic Ready (Photo by ParkCitiesPeople.com)

3B Nic Ready
A- – .263/.311/.508, 10 HR, 42 XBH, 47 RBI, 82/20 K/BB

The son of former major leaguer and Marlins minor league coach Randy, Nic grew up in Dallas, Texas attending Jesuit College Prep, the same high school as Pittsburgh Pirates standout Josh Bell and the Atlanta Braves current seventh-ranked prospect Kyle Muller. He was a letterman in three of his amateur seasons, including his .410/.452/.619 senior year, a 39-game campaign in which he was also named first team All District, second team All State, and a North Texas and Texas Coaches Association All-Star. As icing on the cake, Ready also won the 2018 College Home Run Derby.

During his three weeks of permitted yearly leave from the Academy, Ready spent his time getting acclimated to wood bats in the Coastal Plain League and the Northwoods League. After a .190/.227/.190 seven game campaign with the Fayetteville Swampkeepers in 2016, Ready hit a combined .279/.361/.375 with the Eau Claire Express in 2016 and 2017.

Collectively, all of Ready’s travels and collegiate exports made him a well-rounded product in the 2019 MLB Draft and the Marlins recognized that potential in the 23rd round. Miami’s low-risk, high-reward investment has already begun to pay off. In 67 games for the Muckdogs, Nic hit .263/.311/.508 with 10 homers and 47 RBI. In his inaugural pro campaign, Ready was one of Batavia’s seven New York Penn League All-Stars.

The 6’3”, 220 Ready approaches from a nearly completely vertical split stance. His swing is taylor-made for over-the-fence shots and, although it is extremely long making him very susceptible to the strikeout, his barrel stays in the zone longer than most and when he connects, he crushes. Defensively, Ready does enough with his arm to pass at third base but his quick glove-to-hand transfers and better range to his arm side give him a better future at first base with a potential showing up the middle. Further supplanted by his best tool, natural athleticism, Ready profiles as a floor utility infielder and draws current comparisons to Twins infielder CJ Cron. If he continues to fine-tune his swing and approach under pro coaching, a potential ceiling around Kyle Seager, a .256/.324/.443 career bat is in the cards.

Jose Devers

SS Jose Devers
A-A+ – 47 G, .322/.391/.390, 10 XBH, 26/14 K/BB

Acquired from the Yankees as a distant third piece in the trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx, this 20-year-old babyfaced infielder may very well wind up being the star of the deal.

The potential is definitely in his bloodlines: Jose, the younger cousin of Red Sox infielder and World Series champion Rafael, garnered scouts’ attention as young as 16 back in the Dominican. When he was of age, the Yankees signed Devers as an international free agent in 2017. After breaking in to pro ball with a .239/.255/.326 campaign split between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League, the teenager, brand new to America, was flipped to the Marlins in the blockbuster Stanton swap.

Since then, Devers has spent his afternoons and nights hitting his oppositions for plus average with relative ease, despite being one of, if not the youngest guy in his league. Beginning last season, Devers hit South Atlantic League pitching at a .273 clip (.313 OBP, .359 SLG) at the ripe age of 18, three-and-a-half years younger than his average league mate.

This season, Devers was promoted to A+ Jupiter where he once again got out to another roaring start against similary-aged competition (3.3 years older, on average). With the Hammerheads, Devers hit .325/.384/.365 with a 126 wRC+. For much of the first half, he lead the league in BA and OBP.

However, just before the All-Star Game which was being held at his home park, Devers suffered a major forearm strain. The ailment kept Devers out of action until very late in the season. He never returned to the Hammerheads. Instead, he ended his summer by getting his feet back under him in the GCL (11 games, .275/.370/.400) before getting a three-game stint with the LumberKings. Devers got into another 11 games this winter in the Arizona Fall League. In the limited sample, his OBP (.270) fell against some of the best young competition MiLB has to offer but the average still showed plus (.269) and the speed rang true (5/0 SB/CS).

The question circling Devers this coming season will have nothing to do with his talent, which is clear and present. It will be how both his mind and body respond to spending such a long stint off the field for the first time in his young career. Given the fact that youth is still very much on his side and the fact that his work ethic is second to none, we would put our money on Devers showing up to camp in the best shape of his career and continuing to dominate the FSL for another half before receiving his summons to Jacksonville.

Devers uses a supremely quick and compact approach, plus-plus bat speed and a hitter’s eye well beyond his years to get the ball in play. From there, due to Devers’ 60 grade speed, anything can happen (note his .387 BABIP in the pitcher-friendly FSL this year).

If Devers can put the injury in the past and continue to grow physically, he will be a major piece of the Marlins’ rebuild. At his high ceiling, we like him as a catalytic lead-off threat whose infield hands are nearly as quick as his feet. The lefty is capable of big things, ala Dee Gordon.

Peyton Burdick (Photo by MiLB.com)

LF Peyton Burdick
A-/A – 69 G, .308/.407/.542, 11 HR, 35 XBH, 64 RBI, 72/34 K/BB

A native of the coincidentally named Batavia, Ohio, Burdick is one half of a duo of 2019 draftees out of an on-the-rise Wright State University program that has come to the Marlins and absolutely flown out of the gate.

Born February 26, 1997, Burdick attended Glen Este High School in Cincinnati where took part in three different sports: baseball, football and basketball. In his senior year in 2015, Burdick hit .386 with 14 XBH, 19 RBI and 15 stolen bases. The leader and MVP of a 21-7 team, Peyton was named to All-State, All-League and All-District teams. Flaunting his natural raw athleticism, Burdick also lettered on the gridiron.

Upon his arrival in the collegiate ranks at Wright State University in nearby Dayton, Burdick displayed his ability to immediately rise to the challenge of a new level of competition without missing a single beat. But Peyton didn’t stop there. Continuing to show elite leadership prowess, he took it upon himself to guide the WSU program over the next three years.

In his 2016 freshman season, Burdick earned the reputation of an on-field leader by hitting .289/.409/.443 with 39 RBI and 44 runs scored. After being selected to his conference’s All-Second and All-Freshman teams, Peyton spent all of 2017 on the bench due to injury. However, that didn’t stop him from making a major impact upon a Raiders team that went 38-21, including 21-9 during in-conference play. That influence gave Burdick the reputation of a moral leader headed into 2018.

“Burdick is just wired differently. He is a worker who has no fear but also a guy who is smart about his plan,” WSU coach Nate Metzger said. “He is a guy who naturally pulls guys along with him. He has an edge about him in everything he does.”

During his sophomore campaign, Burdick rebounded from a torn ACL by starting all 56 of the a Raiders’ games and by hitting .378/.437/.569. Those marks ranked third, fifth and third respectively in the Horizon League. He had 30 XBH, 65 RBI and 15 steals. Accordingly, Burdick was named to the league’s First Team. Peyton capped off his incredible season by collecting three hits, including the game-winning homer, two RBI and three runs scored in the Horizon League championship game. Altogether in the tournament, Burdick went 5-15 with five RBI, five runs and two steals, propelling the Raiders, who outscored their opponents 32-11, to their third NCAA tournament in four years. Burdick rounded out his 2018 calendar year by slashing .252/351/.435 with five homers and 24 RBI in the Cape Cod League, proving his offensive skill set holds potential in wood bat leagues.

This past season, Peyton returned to the Raiders as a redshirt junior. He blew up even more, Burdick cemented his position on WSU Baseball’s Mount Rushmore. He paced the Horizon League in both BA (.407) and OBP (.538). Those marks both ranked inside the top 10 in the nation. Burdick also paced the league in RBIs with 72 and added on 24 steals in 27 opportunities and he walked almost twice as much as he struck out (35/60 K/BB).

“He really is a self-made guy,” Metzger attested to Burdick’s steadfast effort in the face of any setback. “He wasn’t drafted or even highly recruited out of high school and he was a 7.0-7.1 runner. But he added a ton of strength in the weight room while also adding speed. And he did it all through a major knee injury. Extremely tough to do.”

In round three of the 2018 draft, the Marlins, via extremely intensive and delicate work done at WSU by area scout Nate Adcock, recognized Burdick‘s torrid athleticism and equally strong mind. Upon signing with the Marlins almost immediately, the 82nd overall pick joined the Muckdogs where he hit an eye-popping .318/.400/.545 in his first six professional games before making the quick jump up to A Clinton. Burdick proved his flaming cup of coffee in short season ball was no fluke as he brought his stat line back to the Midwest with him, hitting .307/.408/.542 in 63 games as a LumberKing. Those marked ranked ninth, second and fourth in the MWL. Amongst countable stats, Burdick’s ten homers ranked ninth and his 56 RBIs ranked sixth. To reiterate, Burdick appeared in just 63 games.

“He is a worker who has no fear but who is smart about his plan,” Metzger said. “He is not a big tinker-with-his-swing guy. He has his plan and goes about it daily with a purpose.”

Burdick gets low in a straight-away stance and uses a toe tap trigger. He approaches from deep in the box in order to put quite possibly his best tool — exquisite plate vision and pitch recognition — to work most advantageously. From there, Burdick strides to the ball with a medium-high leg kick before executing a short and compact swing that generates power due to plus bat speed. Because he’s done it the same way for so long, Burdick’s repeatability in his mechanics is second-to-none. Through physical growth and in the tutelage of pro coaching, there is room for Burdick‘s power tool to evolve even further. Ultimately, there’s 30/30 potential here. Rounding out his skill set with a plus arm and good initial reads off bats in the field, Burdick profiles as an every-day starting outfielder.

Like Edwards, given his age, his thrifty price tag at his time of signing and his ability to already succeed at multiple levels of the minors, Burdick should be fast-tracked. Look for him to begin the year with A+ Jupiter and end it in AA. Long story short, Burdick could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the 2019 Draft.

J.D. Orr (Photo by Wright State University)

CF J.D. Orr
A- – .352/.469/.423, 12 XBH, 29/17 SB/CS, 30/44 K/BB

Playing to Burdick’s right on our 2019 All-Fish Team is the guy that manned the same position for Peyton’s entire collegiate career: J.D. Orr.

Like his good friend Burdick, Orr excelled at both baseball and football in high school which was both a blessing in the way that it allowed him to show the level of his athleticism but a curse in that he came to Wright State not entirely physically suited to play baseball full time. It is a testament to both Orr’s work ethic as well as the attention of the WSU coaching and conditioning staffs that by his junior year in 2018, Orr was hitting .318/.465/.388, stealing 30+ bases and walking more than he struck out.

By Orr’s side the entire time was his good buddy Burdick. According to Metzger, the two were perfect teammates for each other because they found common ground in their differences and fed off of one another, each pushing the other to be better both on and off the field.

“J.D. is a loner & Peyton life of the party for sure. But J.D. can handle himself, too,” Metzger said. “He was one who at times was there to tell Burdick exactly what he thought if Peyton got a little frisky.”

Lo and behold, Burdick have gotten to continue their relationship at the start of their pro ball careers by way of them both being selected by the Marlins. After a senior year in which he slashed .330/.464/.404 in 230 ABs (third most in the league) and in which he paced the Raiders in both runs (83) and steals (59, a school record), Orr jumped at the chance to sign his first pro contract, a slot value deal. According to Orr, the prospect of continuing to play on the same team as Burdick factored in his quick decision to sign and has already begun to pay huge dividends early on in his pro career.

“Winding up on the same team was both awesome and huge. I’m a big home boy so going down to Florida that first week and not being by myself but being with Peyton was great,” Orr said. “I don’t handle change as well as he and he’s a very outgoing person so having him by my side and just figuring out this whole new culture w were becoming a part of was awesome. It really helped me.”

For a full scouting report on what J.D., a catalytic top of the order base-hit first threat with speed to burn and comparable ceiling to Brett Gardner (on top of long-pong prowess that should make him a shoe-in favorite during the spring training table tennis tourney), check out our write-up on him from August in which we honored him as our 2019 Prospect Of The Year.

Another potential fast mover through the system, look for Orr to begin 2020 with Clinton before joining his pal Burdick in Jupiter as early as July.

Jerar Encarnacion

RF Jerar Encarnacion
A-A+ – .276/.331/.425, 16 HR, 43 XBH, 71 RBI, 140/40 K/BB

Jerar “Jonron Jerry” Encarnacion is one of few remnants from the Marlins’ old regime still making a huge impact in the minors. An international signee, he broke into affiliated ball by appearing in 14 games in his native Dominican Republic in 2016 before relocating stateside in 2017.

Jerar’s first year in the US treated him well as he hit .266/.323/.448 for the GCL Marlins. Amongst those who played more than 11 games, he paced the club in nearly every stat category including SLG, HR (5) and RBI (26).

Encarnacion parlayed his strong North American debut into an even mightier 2018 season across two different levels. On Opening Day, Jerar suited up for the Clinton LumberKings. Playing as far away from home as he’s ever traveled, Encarnacion was able to maintain his focus and put together an All-Star worthy first half, slashing .296/.363/.478 with double-digit homers (10) and 30+ RBIs, figures which assisted in creating a 143 wRC+.   Jerar honored his selection to the MWL All-Star game when crushed a go-ahead two run bomb.

As good as his tenure in Clinton was, according to LumberKings’ PA announcer Erik Oas, he still went through some growing pains. The staunchest of these was falling into complacency.

“Jerar had one of the highest ceilings of any of the guys that came through here last year, and that was quite the list [of prospects], but he kind of became a victim of his own success,” Oas said. “When he started, he was more disciplined at the plate and was among the league leaders in homers and BA, but then he began to swing at more junk. His average went down, but the power was still there.”

Oas’ findings are corroborated by the fact that Jerar hit .352/.424/.591 with a 63/29 K/BB in his first 22 games before slashing .269/.333/.431 in his next 46 games. However, at the back end of his final two months in Clinton, Oas also saw Encarnacion begin to rectify the issue of pressing.

“By the end of his time [in Clinton], he began to adjust to the treatment he was receiving,” Oas said. “His average climbed again and he started to go to the opposite field a bit more.”

In the second half, Encarnacion took his talents to South Florida. At a new level and in a very pitcher-friendly league, the slugger’s production took a bit of a hit, but he was still able to bang out 17 XBH, one more than he did in Clinton in one less game. Overall as a Hammerhead, Encarnacion hit a respectable .252 with an SLG hovering near .400 (.372).

Through his growth in Clinton and his good showing in Jupiter, Encarnacion has begun to transform his game and play up to his ceiling of a power-dependent cleanup threat. He further cemented that reputation via a .269/.315/.433 showing in the Arizona Fall League. He hit three more homers during the regular season and put the cherry on top of an impressive 20-game campaign by doing this in the AFL title game:

Currently 6’4” but just 219, Jerar will need to put in some work in the weight room if he hopes to make the most of his power potential. However, still 22 and entering his first offseason at the behest of a professional coaching regiment in the US, we expect Encarnacion to show up for the 2020 MiLB season a different physical animal.

Encarnacion is still a bit raw in his approach especially in swing length and pitch recognition, leading to low contact rates, but he’s begun to rectify those issues. This year, his K rate fell from near 40% to 25%. While there’s still work to be done here and while strikeouts will always be part of Encarnacion’s makeup lowering his ceiling a bit, there is a good foundation for an annual 25+ homer total to go along with a .240> BA and 60-grade defensive tools, including a booming arm in right field.

Those metrics would make it easy to look past a heightened K rate of 20-30%. A more defensively sound Mark Trumbo type piece isn’t out of the realm of possibility here but there’s questions that need answering if he is to approach that. 2020 will be a big year for Encarnacion’s development. Watch him closely.

Trevor Rogers

SP Trevor Rogers
A+/AA – 136 IP, 2.90 ERA, 150/30 K/40 BB, 1.14 WHIP

Born and raised in south-central New Mexico, Rogers rose to local baseball stardom as a high schooler at Carlsbad High. By adding the blueprint of a changeup to an arsenal that included a 92-95 MPH heater, a 79-82 MPH power curve and an 85-87 MPH slider, Rogers dominated his opposition to the tune of an 11-0 record, a 0.33 ERA (second lowest ever posted by a Carlsbad pitcher) and 134 Ks. Those exports earned him plenty of national recognition and eventually, the 13th overall selection which came along with a $3.4 million payday.

Not long after his selection, Rogers went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows when the Marlins shut him down due to a shoulder strain and in order to avoid him succumbing to the same fate as Tyler Kolek and Braxton Garrett: Tommy John. Rogers didn’t take a professional mound until nearly eleven months later. When he did, the results weren’t pretty. In 17 starts and 72.2 IP for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Rogers stumbled to a 5.82 ERA by way of a 1.52 WHIP. The third prep hurler taken in the Marlins’ last four drafts, Marlins fans and scouts alike didn’t hold Rogers up too high.

This past year, Rogers put any preoccupations held about him deep in the past. A, tall, lanky 6’6”, 120 pound, moving parts hurler in his senior year, Rogers dedicated his time off to filling out physically. He showed up for his first start at 6’6”, 186. His trials and tribulations in Greensboro can be attributed to him learning his new physical borders. After making it through spring training at the tutelage of Mel Stottlemyre, Jr, Mark DiFelice, Reid Cornelius and the rest of the Marlins’ organizational coaches, Rogers emerged with much more fluidity in his motion and delivery. Furthermore, his changeup became much more than a mix-in offering and has started to play as a plus pitch that he can work off of. We have also noticed more differentiation between his slider and curveball that used to blend into one another. The curveball is showing added shape and the slide piece has more lateral movement.

Rogers got his feet wet with the Jumbo Shrimp at the end of last season, tossing to a 4.50 ERA via a 1.31 WHIP in 26 IP. The control numbers persisted as he managed a 3.11 K/BB. Rogers will return to Jacksonville in 2020 where he will play against upper minors competition full-time in a measuring stick season. With continued development to his breaking arsenal, Rogers shouldn’t have a problem realizing his top-end rotational piece ceiling by 2022.

CJ Carter (Photo by Joseph Guzy/Miami Marlins)

RP CJ Carter
A-AA – 54.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 61/17 K/BB

Carter is an undersized 6’, 165 righty who pitched for three different colleges before finally gaining traction via a 69.2, 3.75 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 90/23 K/BB season for Troy University. Upon being drafted by the Marlins in 2018, he threw to a 3.64 ERA with a 38/17 K/BB in 38.2 IP

What Carter lacks in size he very much makes up for in deception. With as a creative delivery you will see, Carter comes home from a short stretch windup leading into a snappy side-armed motion. All of this precursors some nasty offspeed stuff, including a slurvy slide piece, a low-arcing curve with fall-off-the-table movement late. He also has a change up but it’s currently a distant third pitch.

This past season, that deception worked it’s wonders on minor league hitters at both the low A and high A levels. After beginning the year by tossing 31.2 IP to a 2.27 ERA via a 1.17 WHIP for the LumberKings, Carter was promoted to Jupiter where he was even more dominant. In 17 games and 22 IP for the Hammerheads, Carter tossed to a 0.41 ERA via a 1.14 WHIP, 22 Ks and eight walks.

The only foreseeable downfalls hampering Carter’s ceiling as a top-tier late reliever are:

  1. He tends to tip his 90-92 MPH fastball by throwing it from a much shorter arm angle and release point.
  2. He will work off the plate a lot proven by a career 13.4 swinging strike percentage. His stuff has allowed him to get away with it in the lower minors but as he faces more disciplined, skillful hitters, he will probably need to challenge a bit more.

An extremely fun guy to watch throw, Carter will likely get that assignment to start 2019 when he joins the Jumbo Shrimp.