From first round high school draft pick to loser of an entire year of development right in to lights out rookie hurler for a major league club, having only spent 26 innings above the single A level. Despite all disruptions, Trevor Rogers is here and he is living up to his potential.
Last Wednesday afternoon at loanDepot park, Rogers cruised through a career high seven innings on just four hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Since a rough first inning of the regular season which both he and Don Mattingly attributed to nerves, Rogers has allowed just eight baserunners while striking out 30 over 21 innings. His overall 22 IP, 4 ER, 31 K start to 2021 has him in some pretty special company. Only 46 other major league players have matched those numbers in their first four outings of a season. Some of their names: Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Tom Seaver. His stat line so far this season was only outdone by the likes of Jacob deGrom, Joe Musgrove, Tyler Glasnow and the man who he will oppose today, Corbin Burnes.
While Rogers was affective in the COVID stricken 2020 campaign, he was far from the guy we have seen so far this season. Don Mattingly attributes Rogers’ stark maturation to his ability to go to school, taking every ounce he could out of his seven starts last season.
“He really learned his lessons and went to work and made some big strides,” Mattingly said after Rogers’ last start. “He has been very mature about the way he goes about it. This guy’s stuff is really good.”
Mattingly also stated that every player that makes it as a major leaguer has a moment when they realize they belong. He believes Rogers is there.
We have stated before the quick maturation of Rogers’ changeup from a blueprint pitch in 2019 to a usable pitch in 2020. In 2021, the Rogers changeup is a downright weapon and he is beginning to utilize it more often. This is how the changeup was working like this his last time out:
Looking at that, it’s easy to see why Rogers threw the changeup 29% of the time in this start. Previously, he never went to it in more than 20% of a start. Last season, he only threw the pitch 9% of the time.
The fact that Trevor now has two plus-plus secondary weapons with which he can give hitters two completely different looks on top of his 95-97 mph fastball and the fact that he’s starting to mix them more interchangeably has elevated his floor and made a 2-3 starter ceiling very reachable. We may even be looking at ace potential here. It is surprising that many major sources still underrate Rogers. For example, he never ranked inside Pipeline’s top 100 prospects and The Athletic still ranks his stuff below league average. However, if he continues to get whiffs at a rate which currently places him third in baseball (bested by only deGrom and Lance Lynn) and in the 95th percentile in all of MLB per Statcast, those sources will be forced to recognize him as a strong Rookie of the Year candidate and a potential Cy Young candidate. The question is is this level of production sustainable?
Coming up through high school and through the minors, Rogers was always heralded for his advanced command tool. Today, that tool sits at 60 grade status and he is utilizing it on all three of his pitches. The big addition for him comes in his confidence to also deliberately throw pitches out of the zone and garner weak and sometimes foolish looking swings there. As Mattingly stated, Trevor is pitching with swagger, knowing he can play and succeed against the best hitters in the world. Of course, like any young pitcher, there will be some bumps in the road but all things considered, I believe Rogers is every bit the guy we have seen during this run.
Jose Devers Makes MLB Debut
On Thursday, the Marlins placed third baseman Brian Anderson on the 10-day IL with a left oblique strain. While he had been striking the ball on a pretty consistent basis, Anderson had been snakebitten at the plate, proven by a very hard luck .227 BABIP. Now, Anderson, at an important point in his contract with just two years of club control left, finds himself out of action. Oblique strains are tricky: some heal in a few days, some take a few months. Hope is that Anderson will be eligible to return when he is initially eligible early next month.
After he was held out of the lineup on the last game of the home stand which gave the Marlins a hint that he may need to miss time, Anderson’s roster spot became available the next day. This left the team with a few probable options.
First, the team could have realistically and retroactively placed Jorge Guzman, who suffered a setback in his rehab last week, on the 60-day IL to free up a 40-man roster spot and used that spot to get either Joe Dunand or Eddy Alvarez to the big leagues. They did not. This is good news for Guzman health wise, despite his recent setback.
Secondly, if the team was going to call up someone already on the 40-man, there was one glaring and obvious option: Isan Diaz. Isan was not a member of the taxi squad to San Francisco and remains at the ATS.
Instead, the Marlins made the move to activate 21-year-old Jose Devers, making him the third youngest active player in MLB. The younger cousin of Red Sox standout Rafael, Baby Devers has shown tons of promise in his MiLB career and during two spring training campaigns including this year when he bulked up a bit. Devers said that was his main focus over the offseason. He hung around Marlins camp all spring, showed improved physicality on top of his already plus hit and run tools. The career middle infielder even showed he’s capable of playing third base. However, Devers highest level of production in MiLB (not counting 11 games in the Arizona Fall League) has been A+ and, due to injury in 2019, he has been limited to 35 games there. It is worth noting that he was leading the Florida State League in batting when he went down 33 games into that injury plagued season in Jupiter two years ago.
So why the move to Devers instead of Isan Diaz? According to Don Mattingly, the club misjudged the severity of the injury to Anderson.
“We didn’t have Isan on the taxi and we wanted him to keep playing,” Mattingly said. “Andy we thought was the possibiltiy of being out a day, maybe two and obviously it was more than that. And then we are on the road. The timing of that kind of got us in a bind.”
Mattingly also would not commit to Diaz being a member of the taxi squad if and when he is sent back down.
“If he’s on the trip, he takes BP but he doesn’t play in games,” Mattingly said of the taxi squad, describing it as made up of ’emergency guys’. “You try to balance that taxi with these guys keep playing. If there is a serious injury, you want a guy that’s ready to go that’s been getting at bats.”
So where does this leave Isan within the organization’s plans? While it is tough to gauge at this point, one thing we know is that the Marlins organization has continuously preached something since the installment of Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman as owners: versatility. Per the words of Kim Ng last month, we know that Isan has been getting time at third base to further his usage and make it easier for him to get into games, especially with what the Marlins have coming soon middle infield wise and with what is already here. When the minor league season starts and when Miami needs a roster spot, we would expect Isan to go down to continue to work on his swing without pressure while continuing to get part time reps at third.
For now, Isan Diaz is here and per Mattingly, his at bats have looked better and more relaxed.
Minor League Rosters Announced
After breaking minor league camp on Friday, the Marlins today announced Opening Day rosters for each of their four minor league affiliates.
What do Daniel De Vivo and I think about these rosters? What are the top stories to watch at each affiliate? We will discuss in an all new episode of Swimming Upstream on Monday morning. Available wherever you get your podcasts.
Sixto Makes Spring Debut
After being delayed by a visa issue in the DR and by a false positive COVID test, Sixto Sanchez made his debut today in West Palm against the Astros. Sixto threw 31 pitches in 1.2 innings. He allowed two hits but induced two double plays. He didn’t strike out any and allowed one walk.
“I don’t feel like I’m behind,” Sixto said through a translator regarding his current state. “I’m pretty much there, same as everybody else; I just can’t throw as many innings right now.”
As high as Sixto is ranked and as electric as his stuff is, including today, Sixto made his first appearance in game 13 of the 25 game spring schedule. The Marlins do not need a fifth starter until mid-April. A guy that has already undergone major throwing arm injuries and surgery, it would be risky of the Marlins to rush Sixto who at best stands to get two more in-game appearances.
According to Mattingly, Sixto will only pitch in big league games when the team believes he is ready.
Mattingly says Sixto will not be rushed, they will take their time getting him ready.— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) March 16, 2021
Says Sixto will pitch when prepared “whether that happens right away or whether that happens seven nine days into the season”.#Marlins
As things stand, we think the Marlins will err on the side of caution with Sixto starting at the ATS to round his preseason program out. After Sanchez’s late start, at this point, we expect the name of a swing man such as Daniel Castano or rule 5 pick Paul Campbell to be announced during introductions on April 1st.
Second Base Battle Update
Coming in to spring training, all the talk was around the Marlins open competition at second base between Isan Diaz and Jazz Chisholm. Evaluators, fans and even the Marlins themselves thought this contest was going to be red hot all camp. A game over halfway in to the 25 game spring ledger, the competition has been pretty one sided.
While the stat lines don’t do either player justice, one guy has been well ahead of the other in terms of quality of at bats and quality of contact made. Isan Diaz has just two hits in his first 16 spring ABs but those two hits were a double and a triple. On March 7th, the same day of his triple, raked what should have been his first spring homer halfway up the berm at Clover Park, but a whipping wind barely pushed the ball foul. In terms of quality of contact, Isan’s average exit velo on nine balls put in play is 92.3. He’s walked four times to five strikeouts. When it comes to length of ABs, Isan has seen 73 pitches in 19 plate appearances or an average of about four per PA. These numbers are slightly convoluted due to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches not incorporating Statcast. Thus, all strikeouts and walks are three and four pitches respectively and each hit is one pitch. Adding in accurate data from his four ABs at BPPB, it’s easy to assume Isan is in actuality at or above five pitches per PA. His two today in Palm Beach consisted of eight and four pitches respectively. He’s also looked better defensively.
Isan Díaz with another nice swing, sending a pitch to the right-field corner for the second straight game. Ruled a double, to third on the throw. Two runners score. Had a triple yesterday. 99.9 mph exit velo here. #Marlins pic.twitter.com/xQwHqoQOwp— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) March 8, 2021
According to Diaz, who went from opting out of the season at the height of the COVID outbreak last year to trying to return for the playoff run only to suffer an injury his first game back, this spring has been about getting back to where he was in AAA in 2019 where he hit .305/.395/.478.
“That’s what I’m kind of aiming for,” Diaz said, “to get that vibe, to put those good ABs together and do damage with runners in scoring position.”
Don Mattingly has liked what he’s seen of Isan so far.
“He’s starting to get in a little bit of a rhythm,” Mattingly said after the aforementioned game in St. Lucie where Diaz tripled and nearly homered. “He looks good right now.”
On the other side of this battle, you have the Marlins’ fourth ranked prospect 23-year-old Jazz Chisholm, the return product of the Zac Gallen trade at the 2019 deadline.
Jazz started off his spring about as good as possible: leading off in the Marlins’ first game, he homered on the second pitch.
But leading in to Monday’s game back in West Palm, site of the aforementioned bomb, Chisholm had been struggling. In his next 16 ABs, Jazz recorded just one hit while striking out seven times. He has yet to walk. This Monday’s game proved to be better for Jazz. Against Jose Urquidy, he battled out a seven pitch AB and beat out an infield single. In the top of the 5th, Chisholm singled in a full count on the seventh pitch of his AB and proceeded to steal second base, his first bag of this spring.
“He looked better today,” Mattingly said after Monday’s game. “I think he’s been a little bit all over. I’m not sure if he’s pressing or not. We just need to keep Jazz steady in what he works on.”
Mattingly also stated the team is working with Jazz on his consistency, encouraging him not to change his approach in the midst of a dry spell.
“Like a lot of young guys, they don’t get a hit and start messing around and tinkering instead of just staying with what they’re doing,” Mattingly said. “Working through it and allowing it to become consistent. We’re keeping an eye on Jazz in that way.”
Mattingly and the Marlins hope this is the turning of the corner for Jazz who has seen just 55~ pitches in 20 ABs. To take our Statcast-less park into account, his only AB at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches before today was a groundout.
While the completion is still open, we believe it is going to take Jazz having a great second half of spring to claim the job over Diaz. That said, no matter if he starts with the Marlins or at the ATS/in AAA, you will see Jazz Chisholm back in a Marlins uniform sometime this season.
Braxton Garrett, Jose Devers Others Demoted
Before Monday’s game, the Marlins announced a number of roster moves: LHP Braxton Garrett was optioned to AAA and C Will Banfield, IF Luis Marte, RHP Alexander Guillen, RHP Luis Madero and SS Nasim Nunez were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Marlins optioned IF Jose Devers and OF Jerar Encarnacion to AAA and reassigned Cody Poteet and RHP Shawn Morimando.
While these moves were all expected, it’s worth recognizing a couple of these prospects and how they performed this spring:
First, Braxton Garrett, the Marlins’ first rounder in 2016 and our 10th ranked prospect. Not long after being drafted, Braxton underwent Tommy John in 2018 missing an entire year of development then was relegated mostly to the ATS in lieu of the lost MiLB season in 2020. Despite the lack of in game reps, Garrett showed up to his second big league camp healthy, throwing the hardest we’ve seen him throw (velo ticked up from 90 to as high as 93). His biggest crutch in past years, his command, was off in his first outing but looked much better his second time out.
“He’s been really good this spring,” Mattingly said after Garrett’s most recent spring outing, a two inning one hit, two K performance. “He has a little bit of a different body, a little more pop in his fastball. His breaking ball has always been good but it’s even tighter this year.”
Mattingly also stated Garrett is working on developing his pitch repertoire but that his success will depend on consistently being able to place the heater for strikes early in counts then pitch off of it.
“He’s adding a slider and he has the changeup he’s working on. All of a sudden you’re going to see a four pitch mix as he continues to develop,” Mattingly said. “He’s just going to get better and better. The main thing is he needs to get ahead in counts with his fastball and be able to locate it.”
With success developing his arsenal and with gaining consistent command at the ATS and in Jacksonville, Garrett will be a candidate to come back up to the majors over the course of 162 games this season. He has a back end starter floor and 2-3 rotational ceiling.
Secondly, we give a nod to Jose Devers who impressed the entire coaching staff, including hitting coach Eric Duncan.
“A guy who really stood out. He doesn’t seem fazed. … It doesn’t really matter the situation,” Duncan said “He has a really slow heartbeat and is able to put quality at-bats together. He’s been one that’s been tremendous to watch.”
Devers was leading the Florida State League in batting before going down with an injury in 2019. After showing up to camp a bit bulkier, the 21-year-old wowed with his glove (including at third base, a position he’s never played during in game action) while also showing good patience, the ability to make consistent contact and put the ball in play and while putting his above average speed to use on the basepaths. Devers went 2-9 with a triple, two RBIs, five walks to just two strikeouts and two stolen bases.
One of the youngest kids in big league camp, Devers really opened some eyes. After the ATS and minor league camp, should get the promotion to start the 2021. He should be considered at or near the head of the class among all of the Marlins’ young middle infield talent. ETA 2022/23.
After years of broken promises and shattered hearts, regime change has the Marlins and their fans on the brink of the fate they’ve long looked forward to and deserved: a competitive home grown club and a sustainable winning culture. Home to Major League Baseball‘s most improved minor league system, fresh new colors, a new coat of paint on their Little Havana ballpark and enhanced community outreach methods, Miami is well on its way to success both on and off the field. Leading the way in that effort is a wave of youth acquired via the draft and offseason trades almost exclusively over the last two years.
Delving into the group of young men who will give the Marlins a more-than viable shot to end their 17-year playoff drought, we present to you our 2020 Top 20 Prospects list.
This year, we asked our followers on Twitter (@marlinsminors) to assist us in our rankings, combining their consensus opinion with our own findings. We thank everyone who participated in our polls.
1. RHP Sixto Sanchez
2019 (A+/AA) – 114 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 103/21 K/BB
Six in his name, ace in his veins.
The center return piece in the JT Realmuto swap with Philadelphia, Sanchez is a Dominican native who came to the affiliated ranks in 2015 via a $35,000 signing bonus. A converted shortstop, Sanchez made his pitching debut for the Phillies’ Dominican Summer League squad in 2015.
After spending 25.2 innings getting acclimated to the affiliated ranks overseas, a 16-year-old, Sanchez made the stateside transfer in 2017. There, in 11 GCL starts (56 IP) he began to dominate. Among pitchers with at least 50 IP, Sanchez’s audaciously low 0.50 ERA (he gave up just 3 earned runs) far and away led the circuit as did his 0.76 WHIP. His 18.6 K/BB% ranked third.
In 2017, Sixto made quick and easy work of his first full-season ball assignment, tossing 61 IP to the tune of a 2.41 ERA via a 0.82 WHIP and a 21.5 K/BB%. Those exports earned him the right to end the season in A+ (27 IP, 1.30 WHIP, 9.3 K/BB%).
An A+ resident armed with 95+ MPH heat and more-than-budding breakers at age 19, Sanchez entered 2018 as the Phillies’ top prospect (according to John Sickels). He spent eight starts and 46.2 IP proving himself worthy of that title as he threw to a a 2.51 ERA by way of a 1.07 WHIP and 18.1 K/BB% for the Clearwater Threshers. However, in early June Sanchez’s fiery velo and the Phillies’ feeding him so many innings early in his career paved the way to a season-ending elbow injury. He did not throw for the franchise again.
After the offseason trade, Sanchez arrived at Marlins Minor League camp in Jupiter like nothing ever happened. His velo was completely intact and, as Fish Stripes pointed out, it was being backed by polished mechanics. This leads to the belief that the Phillies’ complete shutdown of him a year previous was done mostly out of precaution in order to preserve his arm strength, not rescue it. The Marlins still erred on the side of caution, withholding Sanchez’s organizational debut until early May, but when it was finally time, he didn’t disappoint. In his upper minors debut, Sixto twirled a quality start on just one hit and two walks while striking out seven. It was the precursor to a career year — 103 IP, 2.53 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 97/19 K/BB. Amongst Southern League competition, his ERA and WHIP each ranked fourth and his 19% K/BB% ranked ninth. Once again, this was during a comeback from a lengthy injury while making the often-difficult jump to AA.
You don’t have to watch Sixto long in order to realize he’s a next-level talent. He throws his fastball two different ways and both pitches produces different results. His four-seamer sits at 95 MPH and runs to his arm side with late action, inducing a hearty amount of whiffs. When necessary, he can ramp up past triple digits. The Sanchez two-seamer is his anchor when he’s behind in counts due to its late sink induces toms of weak contact and easy ground ball outs. He owns two breaking offerings: a mid-80s slider and an 89-91 MPH changeup. What sets Sixto apart from other top pitching prospects is the fact that his command of all four of his pitches is quickly catching up to his velo. Originally a converted infielder who would get on the mound and simply throw the ball at the glove as hard as he could, Sanchez now has a plan regarding how to attack hitters and can adjust said plan in order to keep them off-balance. He’s garnered that ability in just two and a half short seasons in the minors and he’s still growing.
With plus-plus velo, an already solid arsenal and armed with the knack to command inside the zone and still live right around it when he misses, Sanchez lines up as a future ace with a ceiling comparable to Johnny Cueto. He could get his call as early as the second half of this year.
2. OF JJ Bleday
2019 (A+) – .257/.311/.375, 3 HR, 11 XBH, 19 RBI, 29/11 K/BB
The first draft pick of the Jeter era is here and he’s perfect.
— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) July 20, 2019
A native of Danville, PA, Bleday began his baseball career at nearby Titusville High School where he won back-to-back regional championships before transferring to A. Crawford Moseley High in Panama City Beach, Florida where he won two more regional titles as well as two district crowns. A letterman in all four of his secondary school seasons, Bleday slashed a combined .350/.468/.490. He also held down a 2.99 ERA via a .192 BAA in 68 innings pitched as a hurler. Bleday put his natural athleticism on full display for potential college suitors by setting six school records and lettering seasons in swimming at as well as lettering two seasons in golf at Titusville. He rounded a complete package out in the classroom where he was a 3.9 GPA student.
Following his senior year, Bleday played for the Padres scout team. With fastball help in the 92nd percentile with plus command of the zone and a good foundational curveball, Bleday was drafted as a pitcher by San Diego in the 39th round, but he forwent the pros in favor of honoring his verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.
Bleday used his three-year career with the Commodores to rise to first-round-pick worthy. As a freshman, Bleday proved he needed to adjust to playing outfield and hitting every day as he averaged just .256 in 164 ABs. However, he also flashed the beginnings of his plus plate vision, walking more than he struck out. In his sophomore year, Bleday was limited by a mid-season oblique injury which kept him out a little over a month, but that didn’t stop his bat from exploding. In 39 games, Bleday slashed .368/.494/.511, leading Vandy in all three categories. He recorded at least one hit 82% of the time he took the field. His fantastic vision persisted as he once again recorded more walks than strikeouts (23/31 K/BB).
Last season, a fully-healthy Bleday put it all together and led the Commodores to a national championship and himself to an eventual first round draft selection. He did so by not only leading his squad in batting but by appearing in the top 10 nationally in various stat categories including total bases (192, 1st),runs (82, 4th), hits (95, 5th), walks (61, 6th). He led the Southeastern Conference with 27 homers, a Commodores’ single season program record. Bleday reached base in all but one of his 98 games played, including his last 51 straight in a Vanderbilt uniform and he continued his yearly trend of walking more than he struck out (53/54 K/BB). Overall, he hit .350/.464/.717 and was a six-time first-team All-American and Golden Spikes Award finalist (he was edged in the vote by the first overall pick, Adley Rutschman).
Upon being selected by the Marlins 4th overall, the fourth highest picked Commodore in program history after David Price, Dansby Swanson (1st overall) and Pedro Alvarez (2nd overall), Bleday was tasked with making his professional debut in A+ Jupiter. In 38 games in a pitchers’ haven league, he hit a respectable .257/.311/.379 with his first three pro dingers and 19 RBI. Probably most encouraging about Bleday’s tenure in Jupiter: the transition to wood bats didn’t appear to affect him much. Using the same plus-plus knowledge of the zone, the same polished short to the ball approach, the same knack to barrel up and the same ability to create lift via an advantageous upper-cut swing plane that maintains leverage, Bleday’s average exit velo was 88 MPH (right at league average) and reached as high as 109 MPH, according to FanGraphs.
On top of his offensive skills both natural and learned, Bleday is also armed with a canon from right field that holds the same plus-plus velo he showed while pitching in high school. Able to line up his throws and ramp up to 95 with good carry after good route running, Bleday rounds out an overall skill set that holds 4/5 tools. With a ceiling comparable to Nicholas Castellanos, Bleday should begin 2020 back in A+ but should be pushed pretty aggressively through the system. It is possible he receives one of two September call-ups later this year, but we foresee his MLB debut coming midsession 2021.
3. – OF Jesus Sanchez
2019 (AA/AAA) – .260/.325/.398, 13 HR, 29 XBH, 63 RBI, 100/39 K/BB
One of the Marlins’ newest prospect acquisitions via the Trevor Richards trade with Tampa in late 2019, Sanchez is a 22-year-old outfielder who has absolutely raked since his arrival in pro ball.
The 27th-ranked international prize in 2014, the Rays acquired Sanchez via a $400K signing bonus in 2014. At the time, talent evaluators lauded Sanchez’s ability to hit for power without sacrificing average at such a young age. In his first year of affiliation with the Rays, Sanchez put those gifts on full exhibition. In a full slate of DSL games (62), 17-year-old hit .335, tied for 12th on the circuit with a .498 SLG, 8th and a .382 OBP. He drove in 45 runs, tied for 10th in the league. 24 of Sanchez’s 80 hits were of the extra base variety (four homers, 13 doubles, seven triples) equating to a 30% XBH%.
In 2016, Sanchez proved that type of prowess wasn’t exclusive to the Caribbean. While making the transition stateside still in his teenaged years, Sanchez first played in 42 games for the GCL Rays where he hit .323/.341/.530 before ending the campaign by collecting 17 hits in 49 ABs (.347) for the short season Princeton Rays.
The results kept coming for Sanchez in 2017. Spending the entire year with the full-season A Bowling Green Hot Rods, he became the pitcher-friendly Midwest League’s batting champion by hitting .305 with a .378 OBP, 17th in the league and a .478 SLG, tied for sixth. He belted 15 homers and drove in a league-most 82 runs. Sanchez accomplished all of this as a 19-year-old, over two years’ younger than his average competition and he was named the Rays’ MiLB Player of the Year.
Heading into 2018, Sanchez was the third-ranked prospect in the Rays organization. He showed why by hitting .301/.331/.462 in his first 90 games with the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League, another offense limiting circuit. He spent his last 27 games of the ledger getting his feet wet in AA hitting .214/.300/.327 in 27 games. Last season, Sanchez returned to AA as the 9th-ranked outfield prospect in all of Minor League Baseball. Back in Montgomery, Sanchez sloshed .275/.332/.404 with eight homers, 20 XBH and 49 RBI in 78 games earning him the call to AAA. Eighteen games into his tenure with the Durham Bulls, Sanchez was traded to the Marlins. He lived out 2019 in the PCL hitting .246/.338/.446 with the Baby Cakes. Sanchez will come to spring training with Miami this season as a member of a 40-man roster for the first time in his career.
Drafted as a tall, wiry teenager out of the DR, Sanchez has advantageously transformed into a 6’3”, 230 pound specimen. He has come by his power numbers both naturally and by way of his plus-plus bat-to-ball skills, stemming from a incredible bat speed. Timing his cuts well via a high front-foot trigger, Sanchez drives into the ball with active hips and wrists which should allow him to continue to hit for both average and power against high velo at the next level.
Where Sanchez will need to improve as he polishes off his MiLB career is in being more selective early in counts, especially against MLB-caliber breaking pitches. Sanchez will also struggle with pitches in on his hands, often leading to weak contact and/or whiffs, especially when he’s behind in the count, a trait that lent itself to his high K rate last season, despite pretty good pitch recognition. If Sanchez can learn to be more selective with cuts, limit swings and misses against offspeed stuff, improve his walk rate and learn to shorten up a bit better to cover the inner half protecting his hands all while continuing to mash heat and maintain his elite outer-half plate coverage, he profiles as a special middle of the order corner outfielder (more of a left fielder than a right fielder), capable of both power and average against both sides at the MLB level. A guy who made it to AA at age 20 and to AAA before age 22, the lefty hitter has a Hunter Pence-ish ceiling: .280/.335/.462, 23 HR, 59 XBH, 90 RBI 162-game average. He should start the year in AAA and, given the amount of outfield depth in the organization, end it there before getting his true shot at a starting job next season.
4. SS Jazz Chisholm
2019 – .220/.321/.441, 21 HR, 38 XBH, 16 SB, 147/52 K/BB
Jazz is a 21-year-old Bahamian native who has the ability to make sweet, sweet music for the Marlins’ franchise for years to come.
Jasrado Hermis Arrington Chisholm was a Diamondbacks’ international signee back in 2015. In his first 62 pro games competing against guys nearly three years his elder on average, Jazz hit an impressive .281/.333/.446. One talent evaluator candidly described the 5’11, 165 pounder this way:
“When you initially see him, he’s not very big. But I saw him hit a bomb in spring training and I’m like, ‘Damn, he’s got some bat speed,’ and he looks very hitter-ish in the box, very comfortable.”
After being limited to just 29 games due to a meniscus injury with the DBacks’ single A affiliate in 2017, a 20-year-old version of Chisholm held his coming out party in 2018. In 76 Midwest League games and 26 California League (A+) contests, Jazz hit a combined .272/.329/.572 with 25 homers and 17 RBI. He also added on 17 steals in 21 attempts. Jazz rounded out his spectacular 2018 calendar year by going 19-43 with three homers in the Arizona Fall League.
Headed into 2019, Jazz was regarded as the DBacks’ top prospect and a top-50 prospect in all of baseball. AA ball proved to be a challenge for the aggressive swinger as he hit just .204/.305/.427 with a 123/41 K/BB in 89 games for the Jackson Generals. However, Chisholm ended his season on a positive note. Upon his change of scenery that occurred when he was dealt to the Marlins in the trade that sent Zac Gallen westward, Jazz slashed .284/.383/.494 with a 24/11 K/BB as a Jumbo Shrimp. He kept his craft fresh as he participated in the Puerto Rican Winter League where he hit .286/.333/.457 in 11 games.
— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) February 17, 2020
It’s hard to imagine for someone of his 5’11”, 165 pound build, but Chisholm’s future will be built on his power potential, an ability he comes by via a beautifully violent swing. Like his new organization mate, Sanchez, he comes by his power tool via elite bat speed but, unlike Sanchez, the still physically immature Chisholm shows room for improvement when it comes to bat control and especially when it comes to selecting swings. A slugger trapped in a catalyst’s body, Ks will probably always be part of Chisholm’s game, but if he can grow his pitch recognition and command the barrel better as his frame matures, Jazz, who dazzled on the base paths with 60-grade speed and shows good instincts in the field with a 45-50 grade glove, is capable of a .250/.320/.450+ ceiling. He has the potential to be Didi Gregorious with more speed.
5. OF Monte Harrison
2019 (A+/AAA) – .270/.351/.441, 9 HR, 18 XBH, 74/25 K/BB, 23/2 SB/CS
Harrison is the center return piece from the Marlins’ 2018 blockbuster trade with Milwaukee, the one responsible for making Christian Yelich a Brewer. A second-round pick out of his Missouri high school alma matter in 2014, Harrison spent his first three seasons bouncing around between rookie ball and low A before his breakout season in 2017. Spending nearly equal time between A and A+, Monte hit .272/.350/.481 with 21 homers, 51 XBH and 27 steals in 31 attempts. He also hit two bombs in the Midwest League All-Star Game, powering his team to the W and earning MVP honors. Harrison rounded out his calendar year by hitting .290/.383/.348 with five more homers and five more steals in the Arizona Fall League.
Following such a star-studded campaign, Harrison arrived in Miami as the organization’s consensus top prospect for 2018. Monte lived out the entire season in AA Jacksonville. Though the transition to the upper minors wasn’t without rigor proven by his 215 strikeouts, most in all of Minor League Baseball, Monte still posted a respectable .240/.316/.399 line. The power and speed tools both persisted as he slammed 19 homers, 42 XBH and stole 28 bags. Harrison ended his first season with the Marlins by taking part in his second Arizona Fall League campaign. There, in 19 games, he hit .290/.383/.348 and was selected to participate in the Fall-Stars Game.
Last season, Harrison had appeared to make the adjustments necessary to remedy what ailed him in his initial call to the upper minors by hitting .284/.372/.479 in his first 50 games in AAA, earning him his third career All-Star selection, this time to the MLB Futures Game. However, before the All-Star break, a different sort of ailment befell him. On June 27th, Harrison suffered a wrist injury while diving for a sinking fly ball in the outfield. The injury kept him out of action for two full months. Upon his return and two rehab games in Jupiter, Monte returned to New Orleans. He ended his season on a good note, going 5 for his last 16. This offseason, Monte used the Venezuelan Winter League to recondition and make for lost time. In 16 games, he hit 300/.397/.380.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 22, 2020
Standing 6’3”, 220, Monte is a startling physical specimen as he stares down his opposition. From a straight away stance, Monte stands completely vertically, expanding his strike zone but also making the most of the intimidation factor. He loads up via a huge front leg kick that puts all of his weight on his back leg. The kick is both a plus and a minus: the trigger which be begjns pre-pitch allows him to generate maximum power but it also leads to even more whiffs due to him being late getting his front foot planted. Up until last season, Monte’s hit charts had always favor his pull side, but last year, albeit in limited time, he began to show the ability to go oppo. Via better extension, 35% of Monte’s contact was to right field, by far a career high (discounting his first 50 games in affiliated ball).
Harrison has always been and will always be a true power hitter who discounts average and strikeouts for power. That being said, his 70-grade muscle stemming from both natural strength, elite bat speed and good upper half mechanics on top of 60-grade speed makes Monte, at his current level of maturation, a 20-20 threat at the MLB level. Also armed with a 60-grade gun in the outfield, Harrison has the ability to stick in right field.
As long as he shows no lasting effects from the wrist injury that cost him much of the season last year and as long as he can continue to make modest but important adjustments to his hit tool, the infinitely-athletic Harrison profiles as an annual .250/.340/.460+, 25+ homer, 20+ stolen base threat at the MLB level as early as next season. We place his ceiling somewhere between Jayson Werth and fringe Hall Of Famer Torii Hunter. Despite great depth in the Marlins’ outfield, he should make his debut at Marlins Park sometime this season.
6. RHP Edward Cabrera
2019 (A+/AA) – 9-4, 96.2 IP, 2.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 116/31 K/BB
Cabrera is a Marlins’ 2015 international signee via a $100,000 signing bonus out of the DR. Despite some shaky stats in the lower levels of the minors, Miami still had the confidence in Cabrera’s stuff to jump him a level with each passing season. This past season, that confidence paid off.
Coming off a 100 IP, 4.22 ERA, 1.465 WHIP season in Greensboro, Cabrera began last season in A+ Jupiter. That’s where Edward started awarding Miami’s belief in the progression of his craft. In 58 innings as a Hammerhead, Cabrera held down a 2.02 ERA via a 0.95 WHIP and a 73/18 K/BB. Among Florida State League pitchers with at least 50 IP, Edward’s ERA ranked 12th, his WHIP ranked 6th and his 24.4 K/BB% ranked sixth. After being named to the FSL All-Star Game, the Marlins gave Cabrera another promotion, RBIs time to AA Jacksonville. Despite the jump in level to a more hirer friendly environment and despite the fact that he was playing against competition nearly four years his elder, Edward continued to dominate. In 38.2 IP, he tossed to a 2.56 ERA by way of a 1.06 WHIP and a 19.2 K/BB%.
Here’s a look at ALL 13 strikeouts thrown by Edward Cabrera in Wednesday’s night victory!
He tied the single-game Jupiter Hammerheads record for strikeouts by a pitcher in just 6 2/3 innings. #HammerDown
— Jupiter Hammerheads (@GoHammerheads) May 2, 2019
Looking at Cabrera’s career stats, he seemingly flipped a switch. However, the ability was always there; he was just missing one thing: consistency. As the plus-plus velo became a regular thing that he held late into starts, Cabrera discovered a new comfortable grip and arm angle on what once was a blend-in to his slider without much differentiation, giving it 11-3 curveball action with late dive. The pitch now dips all the way into the high 70s and is the perfect precursor and/or out pitch to his heat. He will still also still use the high-80s slider as a mix-in.
In addition, Cabrera also found a better feel for his changeup which showed improved fade. With polish on the repeatability in his release, Cabrera’s command tool rose to at least 55-grade. He is still ironing out his fluidity and is susceptible to flying open at times and missing a spot which will hurt him at the next level, but he has plenty of time to round out. Considered a high risk piece two years ago, Edward has already shed a lot of that worry.
A bulldog on the mound, Cabrera comes right at his opposition and dares them to hit, living in and all around the strike zone. This past year, he was almost always the victor in whatever battle approached him. Usually, we would temper expectations after a breakout season, but given the fact that Cabrera accomplished his in the upper minors at just 21, this kid, filled with electricity and emotion on the mound, has us stoked. Like many members of the organization, there is no reason to push Cabrera and the Marlins won’t, likely giving him another full season in the minors. With continued success, Cabrera could battle for a rotation spot next spring. After shedding most of his “high risk” label, Cabrera profiles as a floor back-end starter with the ceiling of an unquestioned four-pitch power ace, ala Stephen Strasburg.
7. LHP Braxton Garrett
2019 (A+/AA) – 106.2 IP, 3.54 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, 119/40 K/BB
Garrett is the Marlins’ 2016 first round pick out of his high school, Foley High, in Alabama. Lauded for his advanced mechanics and repeatability in his delivery, Brax arrived on the professional scene in 2017. However, after just 15.1 IP at the full-season A level, Garrett befell a very unfortunate fate: Tommy John surgery. The second in a group of three straight Marlins’ first round prep picks to fall victim to the procedure due to overuse and overthrowing from immature mechanics at the high school level, Garrett missed the rest of 2017 and all of 2018.
💪 start from #Marlins 2016 1st-rounder Braxton Garrett, who is sporting a 3.10 ERA in his return to the mound after missing nearly two years due to Tommy John:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 16, 2019
The 18U National Champion from 2015 and 0.65 ERA, .107 BAA, 266/26 career high schooler made a much anticipated return to the mound last season. Showing no ill effects from his surgery or from the fact that he didn’t pick up a baseball in nearly a year, Garrett was plenty solid. In 105 innings, Garrett struck out 118 batters. His 27% K rate led the circuit. Because he was feeling out his changeup, Garrett also walked batters at a 8.5% rate, third highest in the league but by inducing ground balls at a rate of 53%, Braxton stranded 72% of his runners and held down a respectable 3.34 ERA.
The 6’3”, 190 pound Garrett earns high praise from evaluators for his simple yet sound mechanics which he repeats with fluidity and minimal effort. More of a control than command artist with his breakers right now, Garrett isn’t afraid to go out of the zone in order to garner swings and misses, but is forced to come right after hitters with his fairly average 92-94 mph heat when he gets too deep into counts. Garrett’s best pitch is a power 11-3 curve with good depth and hard bite and downward action that generates whiffs in excess. When it’s on, the plus-plus pitch allows him to expand the zone and stay far away from barrels.
Garrett’s future projection will hinge on the development of his changeup. Though the pitch flashed plus, it currently lacks consistency and it appears he doesn’t have an overall great feel for it. At its best, the pitch shows good fading action, but it’s more or less a mix-in right now. If Garrett can clean up the spotting and release on the pitch, he profiles as a future ace. Given his peripherals which include his aforementioned fluid mechanics leading into an extremely repeatable wind-up and delivery allowing him to mask well pitch to pitch as well as an overall great knowledge of the craft, we like this still only 22-year-old’s odds of reaching his ceiling as a 2-3 starter at the big league level by 2021.
8. LHP Trevor Rogers
2019 (A+/AA) – 136.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 150/33 K/BB
Rogers is another in the aforementioned trio of high school standouts turned Marlins first round draft picks who succumbed to Tommy John surgery early in the season before bouncing right back a year later.
Following a very similar career path as Garrett, Rogers had a ridiculous 0.73 ERA via a .138 BAA and struck out 325 while walking just 52 in 182 prep innings pitched. Much of Rogers’ success occurred during an 11-0, 0.33 ERA, 134/13 K/BB senior year in 2017 after which he was named an All-American for the second time. That season solidified Rogers as the best lefty in that year’s MLB Draft and all but guaranteed him a mid-late first round selection. The Marlins called his name at 13th overall.
The day Rogers signed his first professional contract, Garrett underwent his Tommy John procedure and Rogers took over as the top prospect in the Marlins’ organization. Not even a month later, Rogers went under the knife. He missed the rest of 2017 and half of 2018. He finally made his pro debut in Greensboro, 344 days after being drafted.
After using 2018 to shake off rust and get acclimated to life in affiliated ball, Rogers came to Jupiter in 2019 and showed his true potential, defending the rapport and the noise he made as a prep despite hailing from a part of the country that is not frequently heard from, especially when it comes to lefty pitchers. In 18 starts as a Hammerhead, Rogers tossed 110.1 IP and held down a 2.53 ERA, third lowest in the Florida State League. That marker came by way of a 1.10 WHIP, also third lowest and via the highest K/BB% in the FSL, 21.5%. As the season winded down, the 21-year-old FSL All-Star cracked AA and recorded his first quality start in the upper minors, a two-hit, 10 K, one walk seven inning shutout performance against Tennessee. This season, Rogers will put the Shrimp uniform back on and try to repeat that day each time out.
Infinitely fluid in his mechanics especially for a guy of his 6’6”, 185 pound build, Rogers goes through his simple delivery pitch after pitch and comes home with minimal force and exertion. He uses his long limbs to shorten the distance to the plate while also throwing everything on a downhill plane, messing with the opposition’s vision and creating tons of deception.
Rogers won’t blow you away with his velo or stuff (at least not yet) and he’s currently trying to find a third pitch. The Rogers fastball sits in the 90-94 range and holds a bit of arm side run. It’s his most frequently commanded pitch and he’s able to put it on the lower half pretty regularly, inducing weak contact. He could add a few more miles per hour as his body fills out. Rogers’ best secondary is his slurvy slide piece that sits 83-87. Current movement on the pitch varies but Rogers hits his spots with it regularly and it should carry its swing-and-miss potential to the next level as it gains polish. After struggling to gain a feel for the changeup, Rogers set out the blueprints for a cutter, an 86-89 mph offering that plays off his fastball well in that he’s able to work both arm and glove side, adding another layer to his deception. Rogers began using the cutter in place of the changeup regularly late last year.
From moving cross country to undergoing major surgery to spending almost a full year outside the game, Rogers has been forced to grow up very quickly mentally since being drafted. While still in the nascent stages of his development on the mound, Rogers has proven he has the strength and to adjust on the fly to whatever comes his way. An extremely heady pitcher with plus-plus body control, advanced mechanics and a young but budding repertoire, Rogers, still 21 and already arguably the best control pitcher in the organization, has more than enough time to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
9. SS Jose Devers
2019 (Rk-A+) – .322/.391/.390, 17 XBH, 26/14 K/BB
The cousin of Red Sox standout Rafael Devers, Jose was a Yankees international signee in 2016. He came to the Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade in 2018. Upon joining the organization, Miami tasked the then-18 year old with his first full season, sending him to single A Greensboro out of camp.
After hitting a combined .244 in 53 games for two Yankees rookie league affiliates in 2017, Devers hit .273 in 85 games for the Grasshoppers. Last season, Devers appeared to have taken another huge step forward. In his first 33 games of the season in A+, Devers was on track to win the Florida State League batting title (no easy task). However, after his appearance on May 20th, while hitting .325/.385/.366, Devers sustained a groin injury that would cost him nearly three full months. He would not return to the Hammerheads. Instead, he spent 11 games rehabbing with the GCL Marlins. He also appeared in three games in the Midwest League playoffs with the LumberKings (5-11, 2 2B, 2 RBI) before shipping off to Arizona to join the Salt River Rafters. He went 11-42 and stole five bases.
Modestly built and wiry, the 6’, 155 pound baby face is as youthful as can be and he just missed a ton of time due to injury. However, Devers has thus far made a career of succeeding against older competition. He’s done so by way of a streamlined splashy singles approach, incredible bat speed and plus speed. A contact-first hitter that lets his natural tools, including plus speed, to go to work for him afterward, Devers is built for a catalytic, average heavy, game disrupting ceiling. Even though he will never be much of a power threat, Devers will need to add physical strength in order to compete against Major League caliber velo, but still just 20, he has plenty of time to fill out. Devers’ best tools are put to use on the other side of the ball. With good reads off the bat and a quick first step to the ball, Devers goes both ways equally well and flashes tons of leather. With quick wrists and even quicker feet, Devers should more than be able to stick at short throughout his career.
With a whiff-limiting hack and slash singles approach coupled with good speed and terrific defense, we like Devers to approach a ceiling somewhere near Jose Iglesias, a career .273/.315/.371 bat and annual 1+ dWAR glove.
10. 1B Lewin Diaz
2019 (A+/AA) – .270/.321/.530, 27 HR, 60 XBH, 76 RBI, 91/33 K/BB
The 10th-ranked international prospect in 2013, Diaz was signed by the Twins for $1.4 mil. After a breakout .310/.353/.575, 26 XBH campaign in rookie ball in 2016 and subsequent .292/.329/.444, 56 XBH fill-season debut in 2017, Diaz was dealt to the Rays.
After being limited to just 72 A+ games due to a broken right thumb in 2018, Lewin returned to the Florida State League last season and wreaked his revenge. In 57 games with the Fort Myers Miracle, he slashed .290/.333/.533 with 13 homers and 24 XBH. At the halfway point, the 22-year-old was promoted to AA where, despite the jump, his success persisted as he hit .302/341/.587 with 23 more XBH, including six more bombs.
On July 28, just before the trade deadline, the Marlins acquired Diaz in return for the expiring contract of reliever Sergio Romo. In 31 games for the Jumbo Shrimp, Diaz hit eight more homers, bringing his season total to 27.
Diaz made up for his lost time in 2018 by spending this offseason in the Dominican Winter League. Competing against players who were on average nearly five years his elder, Lewin slashed .275/.331/.422 with three homers and 20 RBI. Across all levels last year, Diaz hit .271/323/.508 with an even 30 dingers and 96 RBI.A sizable 6’4”, 225 pound specimen, the 23-year-old carries an offensive acumen capable of both average and power. From a straight-away stance, Lewin remains completely upright without much weight on his back leg while performing a middle-high leg kick in which his front knee nearly touches his left elbow. From there, Diaz reaches back and strides with long limbs into an explosive uppercut swing. What Lewin lacks in a polished power-loaded lower half approach he makes up for with great raw strength and plus-plus bat speed. In addition to good mechanics in his arms and elbows which he uses to reach back for the most advantageous leverage, Lewin also exhibits great plate vision and strike zone knowledge and management. With the ability foul off tough breakers, wait for his pitch, wherever it’s located and drive it due to great plate coverage and equal parts extension and shortening, Lewin has the ability to go to all fields via barrel contact and plus exit velo rates. Despite being limited to only first base defensively (though he’s shown plenty of athleticism around the bag, including a good stretch and the ability to play at a replacement level pace) Lewin is a guy who limits Ks, contacts nearly everything, and is beginning to tap into his 60-grade power tool. Accordingly, there are plenty of reasons to rally behind Lewin as the Marlins’ first baseman of the future.
Due to his ability to limit whiffs, promote hard contact and reach any area of the park, we place the lefty-hitting Diaz’s ceiling pretty high; around former Marlin, Kevin Millar, a .274/.358/.452, 19 HR yearly threat.
11. RHP Nick Neidert
2019 (A-AAA): 54 IP, 4.67 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 46/27 K/BB
Neidert was a second round pick by the Mariners out of his high school in Suwanne, Georgia in 2015. Following two years with Seattle in which he fatefully spent time with the now Marlins’ affiliated Clinton LumberKings, Neidert joined Miami in 2018 in the trade that sent Dee Gordon westward.
Coming off a ridiculous 104.1 IP, 2.76 ERA (league low), 1.073 WHIP (another league low), 109/17 K/BB (no typo, league best 22.1 K/BB%) showing in the California League, Neidert joined the Shrimp to begin his Marlins career. There, organization’s eighth-ranked prospect put together a 152.2 IP, 3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 154/31 K/BB campaign against AA hitters who were on average over three years older than him. An organizational All-Star, Neidert headed into 2019 as a favorite to make a huge impact on the big league club sooner rather than later and was viewed by many as the club’s best pitching prospect not named Sixto Sanchez.
This past season, Nediert’s development hit a snag in the road when he was stricken by a meniscus injury that would wind up costing him three months of the 2019 season. After a nearly month long rehab stint in Jupiter with the GCL squad and the Hammerheads, Neidert returned to New Orleans in time to turn in three straight quality starts, including a six inning, four hit, 10 K shutout on August 20.
Though he may have been hopped in pitcher prospect rankings by the likes of Cabrera, Garrett and Rogers, Neidert has quite possibly the most complete arsenal in the organization. He won’t light up the gun or wow you with his breakers, but with the ability to locate and command four pitches and with the IQ to mix them fortuitously, Neidert is the most mature pitcher amongst the Marlins’ core.
The Neidert two-seamer ranges between 92-95. What he lacks in velocity he makes up for in location, living exclusively on the lower half and inducing ground balls via late tailing action to both corners. Because of his free-and-easy low effort repeatable wind and release, he masks the pitch well and earns high grades for deception. Neidert’s best and most often used second pitch is his changeup. The velo (86-89) doesn’t differ much from the fastball and, with good shape and equally good location down in the zone, plays extremely well as a partnership piece which he will use in tandem. Despite being a distant third pitch, Neidert’s 11-5 slurvy low-80s slider still has a 50-grade ceiling and he will throw it in any count. Unlike his other two offerings, there’s more control than command here and he will get hurt when he leaves it up, but when he’s spotting it, the pitch plays up and is a 50-grade tool.
Neidert’s stuff isn’t the story here and it likely never will be. Instead, his confidence and his ability to mix, attack and especially locate are what set him apart. Neidert knows himself and his stuff very well and doesn’t attempt to do any more or less. A guy you will never catch overthrowing, Neidert is extremely coachable. A heady, crafty and impressionable hurler who is short on words and high on focus, he limits pitch counts and just gets outs. There should be no issue with him sticking as a starter at the next level. If his breaking ball makes the jump from average to plus, we are looking at 2-3 starter potential. More realistically, he will be a back end rotational piece who could get the call as early as this season.
12. OF Kameron Misner
2019 (Rk-A) – 42 G, .270/.388/.362, 2 HR, 11 XBH, 24 RBI, 42/30 K/BB, 11 SB
Misner is the second overall pick of the Jeter era, selected 35th overall in the competitive balance portion of last year’s draft. A .422, eight homer, nine triple, eight double, 29 steal monster in his senior year of high school, the All-American honorable mention, All-Central second team player and number three prospect in the state of Missouri was drafted by his hometown MLB squad, the Royals at the end of the 2016 Draft. Instead, Mizner fulfilled a childhood dream to play for the University of Missouri.
In his first season at Mizzou, Misner honored his commitment to the black and gold’s baseball program by becoming the best freshman player it had ever seen. His .282 BA was the highest by a freshman ‘15, his seven homers were most by a first-year player since ‘07 and his 34 RBI were most by a one since ‘10. Overall, Misner hit .282/.360/.446 with 20 XBH and 17 steals. Misner’s sophomore calendar year didn’t end at earning Freshman All-American honors. At the summation of the collegiate season, he took part in 38 games in the New England Collegiate League where he hit .378/.479/.652 with eight more homers, 13 more doubles and 17 more steals.
All signs pointed to Misner blowing up in 2018. And he did — for 34 games. However, hitting .360/.497/.576 and leading the nation in walks 125 ABs in, a foot injury forced him to miss the final six weeks of the season. Misner used the injury and missed time as fuel to come back stronger than ever last season and have a career year, parlaying his first round selection. In 57 games, he hit .286/.440/.481 with double-digit homers, 32 RBI and 20 steals.
All in all, Misner was a .301/.424/.489, 21 HR and 56 XBH hitter with a 139/109 K/BB and a 50/13 SB/CS in three seasons in the prestigious SEC. That work was honored when Misner’s name was called by the Marlins on June 3rd. That announcement eventually came with a $2.1 million signing bonus.
Misner made his pro ball debut on July 21st. He spent nine games in the GCL before reporting to A Clinton. In 34 games with the LumberKings, he hit .270/.368/.362 with two homers, a 42/30 K/BB and 11 steals.
As Misner’s stats have perpetuated his entire career, he’s a patience-first, contact-inducing lefty hitter capable of both average and power. Approaching from a wide semi-split stance with his front foot angled toward first base, Misner steps toward contact with a toe tap trigger before executing a leveraged swing with great speed and median uppercut action. Able to cover the plate and adjust his swing to promote line drive contact depending on pitch location, Misner’s elite plate vision takes over and is the catalyst that makes him a 60-grade hit tool.
On top of plus-plus mechanics built for both power and on-base potential, Misner is a plus runner. With an excellent first step towards first and equally superb acceleration speed, Misner has shown the ability to beat out fairly routine plays and turn hits that don’t get past outfielders into extra bases. If he is limited to a single, opposing pitchers would be ill-advised to discount Misner, despite his 6’4” 215 pound build. Arguably his best overall tool at Missouri, Kam used his jets to steal 50 bases. He was only caught 13 times. Due to the foot injury, the Marlins limited Misner to light duty on the base paths last season (he still stole 11 bags and shut opposing catchers out, not getting caught a single tome). That leash should be removed this coming season.
A pitcher in high school who flashed 80+ mph velo, Misner’s aforementioned speed and good reads off the bat give him another plus tool: defense. He is of playing all three spots but he is a natural center fielder and that is most likely where he will stay as he grows and comes to fruition.
There are very little knocks on Misner’s skill set and potential. If anything, the only negative here is that he can sometimes be TOO patient with the stick, a very rare trait. However, Misner is a very rare five-tool talent. If he can be coached to be slightly more aggressive without discounting the use of his vision as he progresses through the minors, there is beastly potential here as 30 homers and 30 steals are not out of the question. Add in plus range, a good overall feel for all three outfield positions and an above average arm, Misner’s ceiling is sky high. Health and aggressiveness permitting, Misner is a guy who could one day be the second coming of Christian Yelich, a fellow lefty and of a very similar physique. Misner will set his sights on fulfilling that potential this coming season most likely for the Hammerheads, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable in Jupiter. At 23, he should be pushed pretty aggressively and could be packing his bags for Jacksonville as early as the start of the second half.
13. Jerar Encarnacion
2019 (A/A+) – .276/.331/.425, 16 HR, 43 XBH, 71 RBI, 140/40 K/BB
Encarnacion is a Marlins’ 2015 international signed out of Bayaguana, DR, a 339 square mile province on the east side of the island. Including Jerar, it has only berthed 10 affiliated ball players, none of which have made the majors and only one of which has played above A ball. That is all about to change.
Not a hugely overhyped international prospect at the time of his plucking from DR, Jerar signed with the Marlins for $78K. After participating in 14 games in the DSL back home (.218/.232/.345), he was brought stateside. In his first year in America, Encarnacion hit .266/.323/.448 and led the GCL Marlins in homers with five. A year later, Jerar took his talents to short season Batavia.
There, he showed the ability to make more consistent contact even if it wasn’t the over-the-fence type and hit for a plus average (.284). This past season, Encarnacion put everything together in a huge first half with Clinton. As a LumberKing, he hit .298/.363/.478. Among hitters with at least 200 plate appearances, his BA ranked 10th and his slugging percentage ninth. His 143 wRC+ also placed 10th.
After putting a cherry on top of his breakout performance in Clinton by home ring in the Midwest League All-Star Game, Jerar was promoted to Jupiter. There, he hit .253/.298/.372 with six more homers, a plenty respectable line for a one-unheralded prospect playing against competition a year and a half older than him in the offense-limiting Florida State League.
Encarnacion ended his calendar year of 2019 by earning a second All-Star nod this time in the Arizona Fall League. The .269/.315/.433 hitter provided some of the most exciting moments of the Salt River Rafters’ championship season including hitting a grand slam in the league title game.
— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) February 24, 2020
Despite being hampered by a few minor injuries that cost him valuable playing time early on in his development, Jerar has been able to fight through, staying consistent and growing advantageously into what is now a 6’4”, 219 pound frame. Still just 22, he has room to grow into even more raw power as he fills out, giving him the potential for a ridiculously high power ceiling. A 70+ grade primary tool ceiling is entirely possible here.
Clearly, there is unquestioned power potential here. When Jerar barrels up, you hear a sound very rarely heard in the baseball world, a tone limited to a few very special players. The biggest query surrounding Jerar is how consistently will he be able to make contact. This past regular season, Jerar answered that in the positive as his K rate fell to 25%, down from a collective 39% in his earlier showings. There are also a few mechanical fixes Jerar could use to make, namely getting his lower half more involved leading to a better power load and better plate coverage via a better stride into contact. Another issue Jerar will need to rectify as he fills out has been noticed by Don Mattingly this spring: his ability to go opposite field.
“Jerar is off the charts. When he hits ‘em, they stay hit,” Mattingly said “His thing is the oppo power. He’s got middle of the field and right field which is always a great place to start.
Mattingly sees an easy fix to the holes in Encarnacion’s game: more reps.
“He’s coming quick,” Mattingly said. “Just let him play.”
In his debut spring training game, Encarnacion provided encouragement regarding his ability to go oppo by doing this, with the wind blowing straight in:
Jerar Encarnación showed big league pop in his first big league Spring Training game 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Gxj1mC3WbM
— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) February 22, 2020
Watching Encarnacion mash in BP sessions both live and paced, it is very easy to rally around the potential for 30-40 homers on top of a plus outfield arm that will be able to stick in right field. Given the current state of the Marlins’ outfield situation though, Jerar could also be taught to play first base.
This 22-year-old still has a bit to prove and some adjustments to make if he hopes to reach his full potential but after last year, he holds a high ceiling as a low-average, power-heavy corner outfielder and/or corner infielder with a floor similar to Wil Myers, (.252/.320/.422, 24 HR annually) and a ceiling Giancarlo Stanton lite. With a huge developmental year approaching him this season, he will be extremely fun to follow.
14. RHP Jorge Guzman
2019 (AA) – 138.2 IP, 3.50 ERA, 1.204 WHIP, 127/71 K/BB
Jorge (pronounced George) is an Astros 2014 international signee out of the Dominican. He got his feet wet in affiliated ball for two different Houston squads in his home country before making the move stateside full time in 2016. After splitting time almost evenly laccruing a 4.02 ERA via a 1.15 WHIP and 54/17 K/BB for two different rookie league affiliates in the GCL and App State League, Guzman joined the Yankees as part of the trade that sent Brian McCann to Houston. In a single season with New York, Guzman enjoyed a 66.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.035 WHIP, 88/18 K/BB coming out party in short season ball.
On December 9th, 2017, Guzman, a top 50 organizational prospect, came to the Marlins as the centerpiece of the Giancarlo Stanton trade. In his first season with his third organization in under three years, Guzman managed a 4.03 ERA by way of a 1.54 WHIP and 101/64 K/BB with the Hammerheads. Last season, the 23-year old joined AA. In his most extensive season, Guzman held down a 3.50 ERA with a 1.2 WHIP and 127/71 K/BB. A member of the 40 man, he will likely jump up to AAA this coming year.
Guzman’s calling card is explosive velocity that sits 96-98 but which he can pump up as high as 102. Even when he isn’t reaching all the way back and going full bore, there is a lot of effort to his wind and release. Though he is able to hold velo late into starts, there is little to no command here and it is a complete blow-it-by-you power pitch that plays perfectly to a late relief role. Further leading to the belief that Guzman is destined for a bullpen role at the next level is the fact that he only has one other pitch: a 60-grade power curveball that sits in the 84-88 MPH range and plays off his fiery heat very well. Guzman throws the pitch with similar arm speed as the fastball and the ability to bury the 11-5 hook but much like his heat, struggles to locate it consistently.
What sets Guzman apart is his velocity, his quickness to the plate and his fearlessness to challenge his opposition. What will limit his ceiling is his very inconsistent command and lack of a third pitch. A max-effort thrower more than a crafty hurler, Guzman’s MLB ceiling should be limited to late relief/closing duties. That said, he could play very well in that role.
15. OF Connor Scott
2019 (A/A+) – .248/.310/.359, 5 HR, 38 XBH, 41 RBI, 117/42 K/BB, 23/10 SB/CS
Scott is the Marlins’ first round pick, 13th overall from 2018 out of Plant High in Tampa, the same alma matter that produced the likes of Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. A .526/.640/.929 hitter in his senior year of high school with 91 MPH velocity from the mound, Scott signed his entry level contract with the Marlins for over $4 million.
After breaking into pro ball by hitting .218/.309/.296 for two Marlins affiliates, Connor made his full-season debut with the LunberKings out of camp last season. There, in 95 games, the 12th youngest player in the league hit .251/.311/.368 with 24 doubles, 32 XBH and 21 steals in 30 attempts. Scott ended the year by participating in 27 games for the Hammerheads as third youngest player in the Florida State League. There, he hit .235/.306/.327. Scott should return to Jupiter to start 2020.
There’s no question about it: Scott has clear and present potential five tool talent. 6’4”, 180, Scott approaches from a straight away stance that leads with his front leg halfway through the box. In his young career, Scott has shown the ability to drive pitches in the middle of the zone and to shorten up on pitches on his hands, allowing him to at least make contact. However, he struggles to cover his outer half, and doesn’t make the most of his extension potential. Another knock against Scott’s career so far is that a lot of his success has been BABIP-reliant. He has never posted a BABIP under .300.
That said, all of those caveats should be taken with a grain of salt. Still physically immature, still growing into the game and already showing plus plate vision, a flashy swing, an approach in which he is extremely short to the ball, 70-grade speed and good defensive instincts, there are plenty of peripherals in place that point to Scott becoming at least a four, potential five-tool talent. While he will need to tweak his approach a bit and get both his lower and upper extremities more involved in order for that to happen, the recently turned 20-year-old has time on his side. While there is still a high level of uncertainty surrounding a player of Scott’s upbringing, the fact he is seeing the ball, limiting K rates, using his understanding of sequencing in order to lay off tough pitches and get good jumps on the base paths as well as utilizing his speed to both steal bags and cover advantageous ground in center field, Scott has already conquered many of the most difficult aspects of the game. With pro coaching, training staffs and facilities at his disposal, Connor should be able to grow his body advantageously and naturally turn into a guy that can take over games as a plus WAR, multi-tool talent.
Accordingly, the ceiling here is very high. By way of body growth leading into harder contact and mechanical adjustments leading to better zone coverage, we like Scott to approach a ceiling near Nick Markakis, a .288/.358/.424 lefty threat.
16. RHP Jordan Holloway
2019 (A+) – 95 IP, 4.45 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 93/66 K/BB
Another prep pitching draft pick by the previous regime, Holloway was selected in the 20th round of the 2014 Draft out of Ralston Valley High in Colorado. A massive physical presence even then, Holloway used his size to deceive, shortening length to his opposition via a long stride to the plate and exhibiting 96 mph velo on a downward plane. Along with the blueprint for a plus primary secondary pitch, a 86-88 power curve, Holloway had scouts flocking to his starts as early as the mid-way point of his senior year.
In addition to splitting time between the diamond and the gridiron, Holloway also split time between the mound and third base in his final prep season, He tossed to a 2.6 ERA via allowing just 41 hits in 43 IP and managed a 50/26 K/BB. In addition, Jordan also hit .419/.532/.806, solidifying himself as an all-around top prep prospect. That year, the Marlins gave Holloway’s name a call in the late rounds of the MLB Draft. Due to the Marlins overwhelming him with a very well over-slot bonus, Holloway forwent his commitment to the University Of Nebraska and signed with Miami. Admittedly, Holloway didn’t even think he was going to be selected, let alone sign his first pro contract as a teenager.
“It was really encouraging. At that point in the draft, I didn’t even think I’d be drafted and kind of accepted I’d go to college and try my best to make it from there,” Holloway told Fish Stripes last year. “Then my agent called. I think it was a Sunday, and I was just watching a movie with my family and he said the Marlins were going to go ahead and draft me in the 20th for money that only me and him talked about. I was going to live out my dream at 17, and not many people get to experience that.”
Upon joining Miami, Holloway quickly began pitching far beyond his level of experience. After finishing 2014 by breaking into pro ball with 26.2 IP in the Gulf Coast League, the-19-year-old tossed to a fairly high 1.41 WHIP but was able to keep runners off the plate leading to an impressive 2.91 ERA. Seemingly primed for a breakout year in 2016, the still physically immature Holloway began suffering from elbow discomfort 11 games into his first year in full-season ball. Not long after, it was revealed he would require Tommy John. He missed the rest of 2017 and nearly all of 2018.
After the Marlins made some tough decisions but ultimately chose to protect Holloway from rule 5 eligibility, Jordan returned to the mound as a member of the Jupiter Hammerheads last season. There, he enjoyed a fantastic first half, tossing to a 2.62 ERA by way of a 1.23 WHIP and 51/30 K/BB in 44.2 IP, earning himself a FSL All-Star Game selection. Rough months of June and July hampered Holloway’s second half stats, but he was able to finish the year strong with a 2.25 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 20/4 K/BB August.
Even after his surgery, Holloway is still being prized for his huge velo which sits 96-98 but has the potential for triple digits when he’s going full bore. A downhill thrower, Holloway is able to naturally change the eye level of his opposition. His best offspeed pitch is a curveball which drops off at least 15 mph, sitting low 80s, capable of 83-84. When it is on, the pitch has a tight arc and hard biting downward action to his spot.
There is no doubt Holloway is capable of a big MLB ceiling as a starter. However, there are currently two huge things hampering it: consistency and lack of a third pitch. Inasmuch as he’s shown flashes of dominance, Hollloway has also shown extended bouts of wildness and inability to repeat his release. Jordan also lacks much of a third pitch. The closest he has is a changeup that ranges between 89-91 but it is very much in the nascent stages and is currently nothing more than a waste pitch. At 23 with a stuff tool that is still pretty raw, with spotty control that limits his feel for the zone and with tons of competition following him, Holloway could be destined for a bullpen role. With the reigns taken off of his heat, Holloway could become a dominant mid-late reliever. We place his high-risk ceiling at that of a four-five starter. He owns a more realistic floor of a primary pen option.
17. RHP Sterling Sharp
2019 (Rk-AA): 58.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 52/15 K/BB
Sharp is the Marlins’ Rule 5 pick from the Major League portion of this year’s draft. A 14-2, sub-1.8 ERA starter in his final two years of high school, Sharp earned All-District, All-County and All-Area honors before being recruited by Eastern Michigan. After a 56.1 IP single season in the MAC, Sharp transferred to Drury University. After another single season at another college, Sharp was on the move again, this time to the pros as the Nationals, recognizing that great coachability and minimal effort finesse peripherals trumped rawness, selected him in the 22nd round. Sharp is the second player in Drury program history to ever have his name called by an MLB team. The first, Sharp’s ex-staff mate Trevor Richards made this same list two years ago.
If nothing else, Sharp definitely racked up some serious frequent flier miles as a member of the Nationals. In his career with Washington, Sharp never stuck with one team for an entire season. Given his age at the time of his selection, the Nats understandably pushed Sharp hard. While the overall results were mixed, the level-hopping hurler turned in his best campaign last year, holding down a 3.53 ERA across three levels, including a 3.99 ERA via a 45/14 K/BB in AA. Sharp completed his calendar year by participating in the Arizona Fall League. In six starts and 24 IP, he managed a 1.50 ERA by way of a sub-1 WHIP (0.917) and 24/11 K/BB.
Despite all of his success on the field though, arguably Sharp’s most exciting moment came in the offseason when he heard the Marlins call his name at the rule 5 draft, bringing him into the employment of his childhood hero Derek Jeter and ensuring his MLB debut in 2020.
A starter most of his way through the minors, Sharp will likely transition to a swingman role in the majors with most of his innings coming in relief. Sharp’s delivery is far from crisp as it has a ton of moving parts but he repeats it well, aiding in his ability to deceive. After a high leg kick, Sharp stretches high and wide before coming home on a downward plane and releasing from a low 3/4 slot. He hides his grip well and mixes his exclusively offspeed fastball, changeup, curveball arsenal that rarely reaches above 90 advantageously. He will occasionally miss up which is where he runs into trouble, but on the more regular occasion that he is commanding the lower half of the zone, he is very tough to barrel up. In place of a high K rate, Sharp has racked up audacious ground ball rates throughout his years at every level of the minors. His ability to limit his pitches and get quick outs makes him an innings-eating, jam-ending first man out of the pen.
18. SS Jose Salas
2019 – Did not play
One of the youngest players to ever don a Marlins’ uniform, Salas, 16, was an international pick out of Venezuela last year. The 12th-ranked overseas prospect signed with Miami for $2.8 million.
While Salas has yet to hit the field despite being assigned to the DSL Marlins last year, he’s shown plenty of promise during workouts, including one at Marlins Park last season. Despite his immature build, the switch hitter is already showing plenty of pop from both sides of the plate stemming from plus barrel speed. Scouts currently cap Salas’ power ceiling at a 50 grade but that could easily increase once Salas makes his affiliated ball debut. Overseas reports on Salas also laud him for strike zone recognition and patience beyond his years. Viewed as the best hitter in his draft class (again, at 16), Salas could grow into double-plus hit tool. Now we get to Salas’ highest graded tool at the time of his selection, his speed. Via good instincts, a good first step out of the box and quick acceleration, evaluators already place his speed ceiling at 55. Again, expect that to rise as he gets into games. Salas rounds out his skill set in the field where he flashes good hands, a quick glove and a 55-grade arm. He is plenty equipped to stick at shortstop but could also play either second base or center field.
There is a obviously very long way to go for the Caracas native and there are questions for him to answer. However, the pedigree is certainly there for there for this already 5’11”, 165 pound third-generation player to accomplish big things. Salas compares his game and style of play to Francisco Lindor. That kind of potential is alive here.
19. OF Peyton Burdick
2019 (A-/A) – .308/.407/.538, 15 HR, 35 XBH, 72/34 K/BB, 7/7 SB/CS
Burdick is the Marlins’ third round pick out of Wright State University where he will one day undoubtedly have his jersey retired.
One of the most advanced players in program history, the 6’, 210 pounder hit .349/.465/.585 with 28 homers and a 41/9 SB/CS and recorded more walks than strikeouts over an elite three year collegiate career. A .407/.538/.729, 15 homer, 72 RBI, 35/60 K/BB redshirt junior campaign in which he had the seventh highest BA in the country (four points off of 1/1 Adley Rutschman) the fourth highest OBP (one point off of 1/3 Andrew Vaughn) and the 11th highest SLG (two points off Adley) and in which led his team to a league title earned Burdick some prestigious decorations: second-team All American and Horizon League MVP. If not for the injury that cost him his entire 2017 season, Burdick would’ve undoubtedly been a first round pick. He fell to the Marlins at 82 overall. He only cost the Marlins $397,500 to sign, nearly a $350,000 discount off his slot value.
Burdick arrived in the professional ranks on June 14th of last year. Relocation? Wood bats? Tougher competition? No problem. After going 2-2 in his debut, hitting his first homer in his third game and going 7-22 with Batavia, Burdick joined the LumberKings. There, he went 10 for his first 27 with his second career homer. Days passed, scouting reports came out and Burdick just kept hitting. He finished the year by hitting .337/.458/.632 with six homers in a gargantuan month of August. Overall in Clinton, he hit .306/.408/.542 with 10 bombs. Burdick is already in camp with the Marlins in Jupiter. He can probably unpack all of his bags and settle in as he should begin 2020 with the Hammerheads.
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) February 27, 2020
Burdick stands a stout 6’ even but weighs 210 pounds. By exhibiting Herculean raw strength, he proves most of his weight is muscle. On top of his natural clout, Burdick owns plus-plus bat speed and barrel control, leading to 60-grade power potential. Peyton negates his limited reach by standing in on top of the plate, allowing him to extend and cover the plate. Via a split stance, he steps toward the ball and into contact with a compact front-foot trigger and sprays the ball all over the field. He also exhibits good patience, making him a great mix of pesky and dangerous. He can also do damage on the base paths where he owns above-average speed. In the field, Burdick owns an at least average arm with room to grow. He can potentially play either corner but profiles best as a left fielder, especially in a crowded Marlins’ organizational outfield.
While talent scouts limited Burdick’s ceiling because of a run-of-the-mill showing in the Cape in 2018, his first wood bat experience, Burdick, one of the first players to show up to Marlins camp this season, is clearly out to make the most of his opportunity. With a great pedigree, solid peripherals and a fantastic disposition all while exhibiting an approach and swing built for a good mix of average and power, Burdick is building towards a skill set that could approach the five-tool label. At 23, he will be challenged and pushed fairly aggressively. He will start 2020 in Jupiter where he will face older competition for the first time in his career. With positive results, he should end it in Jacksonville. Response pending, Burdick holds a contact happy, gap finding, wall hopping, plus dWAR ceiling, ala Andrew McCutchen, a .286/.378/.480, 24 HR, 19 SB annual presence.
20. SS Nasim Nunez
2019 (Rk/A-): .200/.327/.238, 6 XBH, 48/35 K/BB, 28/2 SB/CS
Nunez is the Marlins’ second round pick out of Collins High in Suwanne, Georgia. The third ranked overall prep prospect in his state and the 18th ranked high schooler nationwide, Nunez forwent a verbal commitment with Clemson to sign with the Marlins for $2.2 mil, $600,000 over his slot value.
After signing and working out at Marlins Park for the first time (as a member of the organization), Nunez, who said he had hoped the Marlins were the team to select and ink him, spent his entire first pro season (save three games) in the GCL. There, Nunez proved his hit tool is still rather raw (.211 BA) but he also proved his patience is mature beyond his years as he posted a 34/43 K/BB. Nunez also showcased his plus-plus speed, stealing 28 bags in 30 attempts. The teenager’s hands and glove are just as quick if not quicker than his feet and he uses all three in tandem to wow on the defensive side of the ball. With tremendous range to both sides and good vision off the bat, he has a big league future at short.
The only question is how often will Nunez see the field? Because of his limited size, evaluators limit Nunez’s offensive ceiling, leading them to believe his most likely MLB role will come as a pinch runner/defensive replacement. However, if Nunez grows with his body and if his patience and plate presence persist as he graduates up the MiLB ladder, we like this switch hitter to approach a well-balanced ceiling reminiscent of Andrelton Simmons, a .268/.316/.380, 27.3 dWAR career fixture.
With the turn of the tide for the Marlins franchise comes an influx of new talent on the shores of Jupiter, Florida. They come bearing jagged teeth that prove to get even sharper over these next five months.
The man overseeing that process will be former major leaguer Todd Pratt. Over his fourteen year career, the .251/.344/.398 is probably most remembered for this moment in the 1999 Division Series.
Prior to his playing career, Pratt embarked upon coaching in 2010 as the inaugural manager of the West Georgia Tech Golden Knights baseball team. After building the program up from club-level to Division I status, Pratt was named the school’s athletic director in 2011, a position he held through 2016. Pratt came to the Marlins in 2017 to coach the A Greensboro Grasshoppers. After two seasons there, he heads up the ladder to A+. Following Pratt to Jupiter this year are many of the young prospects Greensboro rostered last year. Joining the promotees will be a few new signees and prospects acquired via trade. Altogether, they make up a star-studded roster which holds 12 of the organization’s top 30 prospects, including four of the top ten. It is far and away the most talented roster Pratt has been responsible for. According to the skipper though, he is heading into the season with no weight on his shoulders.
“With all of the prospects, and I think there’s more prospects here than is being noted, you’d figure there would be a lot of pressure on the manager. I think it’s a pleasure to be he manager. I’ve had most of them before so I’m looking for them to have a good season, just playing the way they’re supposed to be playing,” Pratt said. “It is an honor to be able to lead a team that could be considered the future of the Marlins. I will use my 24 years of professional experience to keep the ship steady. My job is to get them ready daily and mentor them so they can become the player they and the Marlins want them to be.”
In moving from the single A to single A advanced ranks, Pratt will be tasked with guiding some of the Marlins’ top young talents to some of the biggest challenges they’ve faced in their careers. According to Todd, the toughest of those tests is being able to make positive adjustments as your opponents go through the same struggle. Coach Pratt says that is the biggest separator between ability at the A+ level.
“The big difference is the consistency of the talent. Players in high A have been around a couple of years professionally and know what it takes to grind everyday in a 140 game season. Players at this level are starting to learn they must make adjustments during the season as the opponents do as well. Scouting and analytics have come a long way since I played at this level so that needs to be taken into consideration as well.”
SS José Devers
CF Victor Victor Mesa
LF Tristan Pompey
1B Lazaro Alonso
3B James Nelson
DH Isael Soto
C Nick Fortes
RF Cameron Baranek
SS José Devers
2018 (A-A+) – .272/.313/.330, 16 XBH, 26 RBI, 47 R, 49/16 K/BB, 13/6 SB/CS
Devers is a 2016 Yankees’ international draft signee out of Somana, DR. After spending the first 11 games of his pro ball career in the DSL (.239/.255/.326), the 17-year-old transitioned stateside where he lived out the rest of his rookie season. In 42 games with the Yankees East Gulf Coast League squad, Devers hit .246/.359/.348 with a 21/18 K/BB and a 15/3 SB/CS. He also yarded his first career homer. Devers accomplished all of this against competition 2 1/2 years older than him.
Devers’ exceptional raw talent as well as his already mature speed and fielding prowess garnered the attention of Marlins scouts. Last winter, he was part of one of the biggest trades of the offseason, coming to the Fish in the Giancarlo Stanton swap.
Upon joining the Marlins as a viable but distant third piece to both Starlin Castro and Jorge Guzman, Devers was a more-than-solid for-average threat, hitting .273/.313/.332 in his first 85 games stateside. Those exports have allowed him to make the jump up to A+ this season. He will be competing in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League against competition nearly four years his elder. He is officially the youngest player on the circuit. Not only does Pratt feel Devers is up for that challenge, he has made the teenager his leadoff hitter to start the campaign.
Watching Devers this preseason, it isn’t difficult to recognize what the organization sees in Devers’ maturing natural abilities and maturing physical stature. After coming in to camp with at least 20 pounds of added muscle mass to his listed 155 pound stature, Devers has learned quickly how to put that weight to use. Approaching from a straight-away stance from the back of the box, his slashy singles swing is beginning to show some loft and he’s garnered the ability to stride downward into contact. His placement in the box allows him to use his plus plate vision to his advantage and once on base, Devers is an absolute weapon. Still very much a kid with tools that are growing at a very quick rate and a guy who has the potential do damage in a multitude of ways offensively on top of an already-elite defensive skill set, Devers projects as an every day starter at shortstop and future table-setter capable of a ceiling approaching a lefty-hitting Edgar Renteria, a .284/.343/.398 career hitter with a 73% SB% and an 8.9 career dWAR.
CF/DH Victor Victor Mesa
Mesa is the crowned jewel of the first offseason orchestrated by Jeter and Co. The top international prospect, Mesa (along with his 17-year-old brother Victor Jr) signed with the Marlins for $5.25 million. Here’s why:
After defecting from Cuba in 2016, Mesa hadn’t played an inning of organized baseball in almost two years when he suited up for Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. For that reason, the Marlins hoped to get Mesa as many at bats as possible this spring. That plan was turned on its head when Mesa injured his hamstring while running the bases in his first official stateside start. According to Pratt though, despite missing out on the opportunity to get some valuable ABs in this spring, Mesa has fully recovered.
“Coming into spring early he had some nagging stuff but anyone’s gonna have that going from not playing at all to being out there every day. He’s a full go,” Pratt said.
You don’t have to watch many videos or read many reports in order to see what the Marlins invested in when they doled out the biggest payday to an international free agent in franchise history. In Mesa’s approach, we see a lot of Giancarlo Stanton. From a slightly spread stance with his front foot straddling the edge of the box, Mesa uses a front-foot toe tap trigger to step into the ball. From there, his best swings explode through the zone from. The follow through is well-balanced as he keeps both hands and eyes on the bat through contact. From there, Mesa allows 70-grade speed to go to work for him. That speed follows him in to the field where he is exceptionally capable as a center fielder.
Where Mesa will need to improve is creating leverage and loft to his swing in order to make the most of his abilities. On top of that, VVM will need to adjust his timing and pitch recognition as he will consistently be facing some of the best pitching the baseball ranks anywhere have to offer. According to Pratt though, Mesa is perfectly capable of accomplishing those feats but after spending so much time off the field, his growth will be safely guided.
“He’s not an 18-year-old kid; he’s 22 years old. So he’s got an idea of what he wants to do; he just needs to play every day. There may be some days he has to take off because he hasn’t played in two years. We’re going to make sure he’s rested and at 100% every day he walks out there,” Pratt said. “Obviously, we want to get him as many ABs as possible but we don’t want to break him down. It will be a guided process.”
Mesa’s efforts in his first full pro season will be two-fold: adjusting advantageously on a North American field and adjusting to life in the US off the field.
“The game doesn’t change. The communication aspect is probably most difficult for these Latin players. I think we are right on track with him,” Pratt said. “We understand each other and I think he’s done well with Kevin Witt, our hitting coach. “He’s an exciting player who will play center field for us and we will see what develops.”
If Mesa can accomplish both, the 22-year-old has the upside of a special MLB talent with the ceiling of Odubel Herrera, currently a .280/.336/.429, 54/23 SB/CS threat with at least 60-grade defense.
Pratt sees the same potential in Mesa and says that once he makes health his ally, he will quickly begin to dominate the Florida State League and beyond.
“He just needs the reps and to learn what being a pro is all about. He was slowed in spring training due to some minor injuries, but he is starting to get healthy,” Pratt said. “I cannot wait until he is 100% as he is showing signs why he was highly sought after as a free agent out of Cuba.”
LF Tristan Pompey
2018 (RK-A+) – .299/.408/.397, 12 XBH, 23 RBI, 47/32 K/BB, 10/5 SB/CS
Pompey is the Marlins first round pick out of the University Of Kentucky in 2018 where he had a .321/.426/.521 career. After his $645K payday, Pompey broke into pro ball with Pratt’s Grasshoppers last season. There, the multiple time All-American hit .314/.422/.430 with four doubles and his first two professional homers in 86 ABs. He also stole five bases in eight attempts and had a 22/16 K/BB before being called up to the Hammerheads.
Pompey’s current skill set translated with superiority to the more pitcher friendly Florida State League ranks. In equal time with the Hammerheads (24 games), he hit .291/.396/.384 with five doubles, a homer, a 4/1 SB/CS and a 21/13 K/BB. He begins 2018 back with the Hammerheads, but if he enjoys similar success for the bulk of the year, he could wind up in AA Jacksonville by season’s end.
“He started with me in Greensboro last year and really didn’t belong there. He got up here and it was the same consistency with better ballplayers and the (Florida) heat,” Pratt said. “He can swing the bat from both sides with good discipline and a good knowledge of the strikezone. I’m very impressed.”
Approaching from a split stance, Pompey brings his front leg inward to the ball with a medium-high timing trigger before engaging a well-leveraged swing with good uppercut action. It’s a stroke tailor-made for doubles. Because of the inside-out action of his lower half, Pompey favors pull-side contact, but, thanks to his parents teaching him how to switch hit when he was a child, Tristan is able to mirror his mechanics from both sides of the plate, making him a much more complete offensive threat. Couple that fact with a patient eye and the bat speed to fight off tough pitches, Pompey projects as a plus for-average threat with the ability to add even more power. He will need to add more torque and use of his hips in order to play up to his full potential of the back half of that equation, but with more physical growth, that should come naturally. Add to the fact that Pompey is capable of plus speed on the basepaths, the 22-year-old projects as a future centerfielder, hitting top three in the batting order.
2B Riley Mahan
2018 (A+) – .250/.298/.340, 29 XBH, 40 RBI, 127/24 K/BB
Mahan is another Kentucky alum selected by the Marlins, this time from the 2017 draft class. Before his .311/.360/.524 three year career at UK, Mahan was a high school standout for the Archbishop Moeller Crusaders in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, he was a .367/.460/.538 career hitter and a 2014 preseason All-American. Postseason, he earned first team All-State and All-GCL honors. After hitting .304 with 22 RBI in the Cape Cod League in 2016, Mahan hit .336/.392/.618 as a senior at UK. The last of those figures was driven by a team leading 15 homers and 23 doubles. He also drove in a team high 67 runs. The boost in power was a huge catalyst in Mahan being selected at his $525K-worthy draft slot.After just six games with the Grasshoppers, Mahan suffered a groin strain, bringing an end his 2017 calendar year. However, after a strong camp, the Marlins saw enough to task the middle infielder with a quick graduation to A+ Jupiter to begin 2018. After missing two weeks early in the year with an aggravation to the same injury, Mahan hit right at the Mendoza line, slashing .250/.298/.340 with a team leading 23 doubles, three triples and three homers. With similar home and away splits, what really hampered Mahan from standing out even more offensively was his 31% K rate and 127/24 K/BB. Mahan will look to rectify that area of his game this season as he faces off against the same level competition.
An athletically built 6’3”, 200 pound specimen, Mahan hits lefty and throws righty. From a compact closed stance, he approaches from the back of the box, but crowds the plate, allowing him to get his average sized limbs all the way across the zone. In trying to create leverage in his swing though, his cut gets a bit long, leading to either weak contact or swings and misses. When Mahan shortens up though, he flashes a 50 grade hit tool stemming from good bat control, capable of a good average. His future will depend on his ability to read pitches more consistently, work counts and stay simple.
On the other side of the ball, Mahan possesses a good glove and nimble feet, but his throwing arm is just average, which limits his infield ceiling to second base. While that is where the team would like to continue to develop Mahan, the 23-year-old may be converted to left field during the fast-tracking process. Entering an important developmental season, we will follow this ceiling Kelly Johnson (.251/.330/.422) and floor fourth outfielder New Year’s Eve baby closely.
RF Cameron Baranek
2018 (A-A+) – .244/.307/.347, 17 XBH, 39 RBI, 79/26 K/BB
With the early season promotion of Corey Bird who heads up to the Jumbo Shrimp, right field opens up for Cameron Baranek (pronounced BAH-rah-NIK), a Marlins’ draftee from 2017. Baranek comes to the Miami after a two years in JuCo at Santa Ana College where he was a .344 BA, 435 OBP hitter and after a single season at Hope International University where he hit .364/.486/.672 with 14 homers and a 20/10 SB/CS on top of a 32/43 K/BB. Baranek’s single season totals at HIU not only helped his school to an NAIA World Series berth, they broke several school records including HR, SLG, total bases and SB.
Following his standout junior season, Baranek broke yet another Hope International mold, becoming the first player from the collegiate program to be selected in the MLB draft. The Marlins took Baranek in the ninth round at 269th overall.
“It’s quite an honor being able to represent HIU, and being the first draft pick from the school. The school and coaching staff were so helpful in every aspect to allow me to be the best student athlete I could be,” Baranek told us last season. “Being a smaller Christian school with a focus on quality education and it’s a really awesome place for growth, the coaching staff and baseball program is top notch and to get a good foundation and name in its second year is huge and hopefully will draw more athletes alike with the same goals to win a championship and make it to the next level.”
After finishing his 2017 campaign by hitting .234/.306/.351 with 22 RBI and nine total XBH including his first career homer in the GCL, Baranek received the call to full season ball last year. There, in Greensboro, the lefty quickly proved he was more than capable of low A ball, hitting .319/.400/.479 with four homers, a 19/13 K/BB and a 4/2 SB/CS in 94 ABs. After those 28 games, Baranek was given the promotion to A+ Jupiter where he lived out the year. Overall, he hit .208/.259/.284, but that doesnt tell the whole story of how he started to figure things out late in the year. In the month of August, Baranek hit .230/.284/.324 with four doubles, a homer and 13 RBI. He had a five game hit streak from August 10th through 16th. Baranek will look to build on that success this season as he begins his third pro season back in the Florida State League.
A stout but athletic 5’10”, 195, Baranek owns great bat speed and a mostly lateral swing with some slight loft, allowing him to hit gaps and occasionally a fence. Once on base, Baranek exhibits plus speed, capable of double-digit steals. When he’s making consistent contact, Cam is a catalytic type threat that can start a fire from either the top or bottom of a lineup. The main area of offensive improvement for Baranek is his plate discipline, especially against same-side pitching and gaining the ability to adjust to the count, attributes which should come naturally as he faces off more frequently against fellow professionals. With a 90+ MPH outfield arm capable of accurate throws that carry and good outfield readability, Baranek is a floor fourth outfielder and lefty bat off the bench and a ceiling starting and/or platooning outfielder with the prowess of a .270+ BA and a .400+ SLG.
While he isn’t a name that will stand out to even the informed Marlins fan right now, Baranek could be on his way to quietly sneaking on to an MLB roster sometime in the not too distant future.
As formidable as the Hammerheads’ starting lineup is this season, their pitching rotation is even more drool-inducing. The star-studded staff includes two Marlins first round picks, a fire-balling international draftee and two 20th round picks who are in the midst of standout minor league careers
1. Jordan Holloway
2. Trevor Rogers
3. Braxton Garrett
4. Edward Cabrera
5. Will Stewart
RHP Braxton Garrett
2018 – DNP (Tommy John)
Garrett is the Marlins’ first round pick from 2017 out of Florence High School in Florence, Alabama. Long and lanky with plenty of physical projection and velo which already sat at 92 with a best-pitch curveball and above average changeup, the lefty was ranked as the seventh best overall pitching prospect and second best lefty in his draft year of 2016.
The Marlins selected Garrett away from his Vanderbilt commit at #7 overall, rewarding him a $4.1 million payday.
After an impressive camp, Garrett was assigned to A Greensboro. Not long after that, though, the 6’3”, 190 pound lefty went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. After just four starts and 15.1 IP, it was revealed that Garrett’s throwing shoulder required Tommy John surgery. The injury cost him the rest of 2017 and all of last season.
This year, Garrett was one of the first Marlins’ back on the field as he participated in Captain’s Camp. In addition to his repaired shoulder, Garrett v. 2.0 also sports a pair of spectacles on the mound. But as a few things changed for Garrett, more things stayed the same, including Braxton’s mindset and his drive to succeed. According to Mark DeFelice, those intangibles attributed a lot to the reason the Marlins drafted Garrett and they will continue to aid him most handily in the future.
“He’s a guy that the organization spent a lot of money on. Obviously it was related to stuff but I think moreso the kind of person he is, his character, his integrity,” DeFelice said. “The type of person he is is going to withstand the injury. Rehab is grueling; you never know how someone is going to respond, be it physically or mentally. But I think he’s checked all the boxes when it comes to that.”
According to DeFelice, Garrett, now at 100% can go full bore 100% of the time, an aspect of his game that should allow him to make a huge leap in progression this year.
“I absolutely loved what I saw (in Greensboro) and moving forward, I think he’s going to be that much better having that healthy arm,” DeFelice said. “When something is ailing you, you tailor back. Now we are in the building process, building his arm strength back to getting that feel for his breaking ball. He’s made strides up until this point and I think that will continue into the year.”
A 6’3”, 190 pound physical specimen, Garrett is capable of an absolutely filthy three pitch mix. Anchored by a four seamer that is capable of 95 but usually sits 92, he mixes in an improving 85-87 mph changeup, pitching in to his best pitch high 70s curve which shows tight arc and late drop down into his spot on the lower half. Garrett shows the ability to both pitch cautiously away from contact on the outer half and come right after hitters, busting them in on the inner quadrants. Nearly everything is down and even when he isn’t at his best, Garrett is able to get by by inducing weak contact. A guy who shows the ability to adjust to his present stuff from start to start and even inning to inning, Braxton, despite the surgery, still projects as a front line starter with an ace’s ceiling.
RHP Edward Cabrera
2018 (A) – 100.1 IP, 4.22 ERA, 1.465 WHIP, 93/42 K/BB
Cabrera is a Marlins 2015 international signee out of the Dominican. Upon signing his $100K contract, the 18-year-old was immediately assigned to stateside ball in the Gulf Coast League, where hitters nearly three years his elder touched him up for a 4.21 ERA and 1.362 WHIP in his first 47 IP. However, despite subpar numbers, the Marlins saw the true potential in Cabrera’s fiery arm, skipping the regular reacher of 96 MPH up to low A in 2017. There, the numbers were even less satifsying: 5.30 ERA by way of a 1.4 WHIP in 35.2 IP. Still, the organization saw past the numbers and tasked Cabrera with his first year in full season ball last year. As a Greensboro Grasshopper, the 20-year-old managed a 4.22 ERA despite a 1.465 WHIP. In by far the most lengthy season of his career in a hitter friendly league, Cabrera managed a 2.21 K/BB. According to his pitching coach Mark DeFelice, Cabrera’s success stemmed from better confidence in his changeup and his ability to turn it in to a plus pitch.
“He was only 20 years old so with that maturity level, the question was can he handle his emotions? When he started getting hit, he had the tendency to go to the breaking ball a little more or start rushing and then his fastball started getting up in the zone and he started getting hit. He was able throughout the last year, to stay with the fastball command down and then elevate when he needs to,” DeFelice said. “The breaking ball had been there but his changeup development last year had gotten a little better. In previous years, he was only using 2-3 a game but we had him up to 15-20 per game. It’s almost like a two seam fastball coming out of his hand with the depth that’s created. I think moving forward his changeup has turned into his best secondary pitch over his breaking ball. This year, that’s going to be a pitch that’s going to take him from where he was to where he needs to be as a big league pitcher.”
Pratt, who will be Cabrera’s head coach for a second straight season, echoes DeFelice’s sentiments and likens the 20-year-old to a very high ceiling.
“He is over powering and his breaking ball is really starting to develop. The change was a plus pitch for him last season and as he is becoming more confident throwing it,” Pratt said. “He has three plus pitches in his arsenal now and he has shown dominance here early in the season. He will be a dominant starter in the future and I see him as a front-end starter on any staff.”
LHP Will Stewart
2018 (A) – 113.2 IP, 2.06 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 90/21 K/BB
Stewart is a Phillies’ 20th round pick out of Hazel Green High School in Hazel Green, Alabama. Plucked from the ranks of the unknown as just the twelfth professional to ever attend HGHS, Stewart stands to become just the second MLB player to spend his secondary school years there and the first to ever be selected straight out of the institution. While the school isn’t rich in baseball history, Stewart had scouts flocking to his starts. The primary reason for that was advanced feel and control over a sinker/changeup combo that had hitters spellbound.
Upon joining the professional ranks as an 18-year-old, Stewart had a bit of a wake-up call, pitching to a 4.29 ERA via a 55/32 K/BB over 65 innings in the GCL from 2015-2016 and a 4.18 ERA via a 1.48 WHIP and .268 BAA in short season ball in 2017. Last season though, in his first year in full season ball, Stewart’s fastball velo took a timely jump up to the 90-93 MPH range, giving him a much more advantageous differential down to his 86-88 MPH arm-side fading changeup and developing slurvy 84-86 MPH slider. In addition, Stewart commanded the zone with much more efficiency in 2018, throwing all three pitches for consistent strikes and keeping everything below his opposition’s eye level, leading to many long swings and weak contact. Stewart generated ground balls at a 62% rate, tops in the South Atlantic League.
A fairly averaged sized 6’3″, 175 pound specimen, Stewart puts every bit of his stature to use in his approach, especially vertically. Stretching all the way downward in his slow windup, Stewart strides and powers through his motion from a mid-3/4 release, adding deception to his delivery. The change of speeds and his ability to hide the ball as well as his repeatable replease points keep hitters guessing and prevent them from timing him. In place of one elite pitch, Stewart is the owner of three plus offerings with a good feel for each of them. He will get hurt when he isn’t commanding well, but those instances are growing fewer and farther between. If his fastball velo takes another jump or if his slider can start generating more whiffs out of the zone, he has the ability to become a top-tier starter. At the very least, Will could be a viable back-end starter as early as next season.
With the explosion of young talent that has arrived in Miami both via offseason trades and the draft, some new Marlins stars have been born and some have even begun to go supernova. With first halves complete across baseball, here’s a look at which organizational players have shined brightest thus making up our 2018 All-Baby Fish Team, some of which could see time with the big league club during the second half.
If the surname sounds familiar, that’s because it is. After clearing some massive hurdles recentl, Austin, the younger brother of Phillies’ ace Aaron, is beginning to show the same athletic prowess and similar standout baseball abilities, the kind the Marlins foresaw in him when they selected him in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
A .296/.387/.425 career hitter over the course of a four year career at LSU, Nola was a 2009 College World Series champion as a freshman and a major catalyst in the team’s 2010 SEC title and their #9 nationwide ranking a year prior. The patient, pesky, contact-first top of the order threat (128/115 K/BB) who also found plenty of gaps (30% XBH%) and the occasional fence (1.45 HR%), Nola, an SEC Tournament MVP, a second-team All-SEC selection, a CAS Regionals MVP and a Wally Pontiff Award winner as top scholar athlete, also manned a more than solid shortstop, most heralded for his huge arm and throw accuracy all across the diamond. Including his posting of a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in the CWS in his freshman year, Nola posted a career FPCT over .970 during his time in purple and gold.
After posting a .968 fielding percentage in his first 5,108 innings as a professional, the Marlins decided to ride that history as well as the reputation Nola built in the collegiate ranks by assigning him to the second-most defensively responsible position on the diamond: catcher. Playing at a spot he hadn’t played since little league (link) Nola responded to the position change by tossing out 27 of his first 38 runners.
Through his first 49 games this season, Nola has allowed more SBs than he did in 75 overall games last season (38 vs 41). However, in place of an adjustment process to MLB-caliber runners, Nola has soared on offense, hitting .282/.358/.378/. Among PCL catchers with at least 100 ABs, those marks rank 11th, 8th and 19th. Additionally, Nola’s 0.64 BB/K ranks 7th.
Though the 28-year-old might be a bit of a late bloomer in realizing exactly where his future lies, he’s less than a step away of putting it all together and becoming an above average defensive catcher with an at least average offensive bat. Given his background and biological pedigree, we like Nola to make the squad, post-Realmuto or not, as the backup backstop next season after a cup of coffee is served to him this September.
A local boy makes good.
A native of Boynton Beach and graduate of Summit Christian School, Silviano attended Lynn University for a single season in 2016 after being released by the Blue Jays who drafted him in the 13th round in 2012. In that single season, Silviano hit a ridiculous .405/.528/.950 by way of 31 homers, a number which set both conference and team records and made him just the third player in Division II history to hit at least 30 long balls. In addition to his SLG, Silviano’s RBI (76) and total base tallies (190) also set Fighting Knights program records.
After hitting a subpar .212/.281/.449 while manning backstop in his first season with the organization, the Marlins gave Silviano the promotion from A to A+ and a positional switch from catcher to DH in order to focus on his offensive game. That season, the switch proved to be productive as Silviano paced the Hammerheads and placed third in the Florida State League in homers with 13. Additionally, his .172 ISO placed fourth in the league’s ranks. However this also came while Silviano had the 15th lowest BB/K in the league at 0.29, giving the Marlins reason to hold Silviano back from a promotion.
So far this season, there is very little holding Silviano back from a seemingly destined call upstate to Jacksonville. A .281/.363/.491, 12 HR first half hitter and owner of the league’s fourth best SLG and fifth most homers, Silviano has also tempered his free swing and become an 11.5 BB% presence.
Though he is another late arrival due to some early career hindrances based on a lack of confidence by a knee-jerky organization that drafted him and cut him after just 247 plate appearances as an 18-and 19-year-old in rookie ball, the now 24-year-old is very much in the cusp of cracking the upper minors and eventually touching the Majors as at least a lefty power bat off the bench spot with the ceiling to share starts as a righty-mashing platoon option at first base. So far in his career as a Marlins’ affiliated player, Silviano is hitting .277 with 29 homers against opposite side hurlers. This year, his slash line vs righties reads .305/.379/.584.
A New York Mets’ 2008 8th round pick after a .306/.391/.448 career at Boston College, Campbell rose through the Mets’ Minor League ranks, the standout seasons being a .306/.369/.467 year between A+ and AA in 2010 and a .314/.435/.475 AAA season in 2014 before he made it to the majors for the first time that same season. In his first 85 MLB games, Campbell hit a respectable .263/.322/.358. A season later, Campbell made the Mets squad out of spring training only to manage a meager .197/.312/.295 line over 71 games before being sent back to AAA. Prior to hitting .363/.493/.593 for the rest of that season, Campbell earned a second straight Opening Day roster spot for the Mets in 2016 only to hit .173/.287/.227 in 40 games that year. Campbell spent most of that season hitting .301/.390/.447 in AAA
After spending a season abroad in Japan, Campbell returns to the MLB ranks hoping to shake the audacious title of AAAA fodder. So far this season, he appears to be a step closer to accomplishing that feat. He has done so by making himself nearly impossible to not promote via exceptional offensive output. A Triple A All-Star starter, Campbell hit .326/.429/.468 in the first half, marks which ranked 9th, 6th and 31st in the PCL. Campbell’s current .891 OPS ranks 13th.
With MLB experience and good positional flexibility and eligibility at first, second, third and in left field, it’s easy to believe the Marlins will give Campbell another chance in the majors ahead of calling up their young prospects who they have no reason to rush. Look for Campbell to pull on a Marlins jersey very shortly after the trade deadline.
A Marlins’ free agent depth signing at the beginning of the year, Adames impressed this spring in extended action, hitting .333/.381/.513 with five doubles, a triple and an RBI before being assigned to AAA in favor of Yadiel Rivera, the final spot on the bench, to begin the season.
While Rivera has gotten a much longer leash than originally thought and used it to hit a very unappealing .198/.317/.248 while playing -1 DRS overall defense (though he has been rather good at shortstop, posting a +3 mark in that respect), Adames is hitting .262/.315/.366 with 20 XBHs, 34 RBI and a 46/24 K/BB along with a .970+ FPCT across three different infield positions.
While it’s taken this long for Adames to get another shot in the pros, it may not take him much longer. Look for Adames to get a look as a switch-hitting bench option sometime early in the second half.
SS Jose Devers
.272/.308/.339, 16 XBH, 21 RBI
Despite being the youngest guy to crack these rankings as well as the youngest member of the Greensboro Grasshoppers after he skipped rookie ball, Jose Devers has been one of the best and brightest stories to grace the system this season.
Another organizational player with a preceding pro pedigree in being the brother of Red Sox’ standout Rafael Devers, the Marlins acquired the Jose Devers of the Dominican in the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Yankees. A native of Somana, DR, Jose hit .245/.336/.342 in his age 16-17-year-old seasons that marked the beginning of his pro career.
In his inaugural season with the Marlins’ organization, though he has shown that he still has room for growth in terms of strike zone knowledge by recording a 3.28 K/BB, Devers has already begun to exhibit his lauded raw elite bat speed by hitting to a .272 BA. He’s also enjoyed good success on the base paths where he is 11/16 in stolen base attempts.
A kid who has been on base in 26 of his last 29 games while also exhibiting a .973 fielding percentage via the same great speed that allows him on-base success, a fantastic first read to the ball off the bat and a flashy glove, Devers is the dark-horse candidate to become the best piece of the return for Giancarlo Stanton.
While the Marlins will undoubtedly take it easy with the kid’s progression up the ranks, we expect his name to be a mainstay among the top prospect ranks as a for-average shortstop with above average defense for the foreseeable future.
In enjoying his fantastic first half this season, second year Marlin Cameron Baranek is not only making a name for himself, he’s gaining his alma matter some deserved recognition. Miami’s ninth round selection last year, Baranek is the first ever MLB draftee from Hope International College in central California. However, that’s far from the first “first” Baranek recorded for the brand new Hope International baseball program.
The transfer from nearby Santa Ana college earned his Draft honor by setting multiple club records in his single season with HIU in its sophomore season including BA (.364), homers (14) and steals (20), flashing a five-tool skillset. In so doing, Cameron led the school to 35 wins and its first Conference title. After the season, Baranek was named the the Royals’ first NIAA All-American.
Despite playing just one season for the Royals, Baranek will forever remain a pioneering member of the HIU baseball family.
What had been potentially most impressive about what Baranek was able to accomplish in his amateur days was the fact that he was able to succeed and realize his dream of becoming a pro despite not only coming from a very young and virtually unknown pedigree but that he was able to overcome a laundry list’s worth of injuries sustained since he began high school. Since the age of 17, Baranek underwent surgery to repair three different parts of his body.
Still, he was able to stand tall (albeit on a surgically repaired knee and ankle) on June 14, 2017, as a professional baseball player. It’s hard to believe Baranek’s grind, drive and incredible ability to stay positive was lost on the Marlins.
That same mindset has remained in Baranek this far in his young career as a professional.
Prior to being drafted, Baranek broke into the professional ranks by hitting .234/.306/.351 with 9 XBH and his team’s second best RBI total (22) for the GCL Marlins last season, the 22-year-old impressed in camp and earned his initial call to full season ball to begin 2018.
This year, Baranek became one of the best hitters in the South Atlantic League, hitting .420/.453/.580 in June. Among hitters with at least 90 ABs, Baranek’s .319 overall BA ranks 9th, his .400 OBP ranks 4th and his .479 SLG ranks 16th. His wrC+ of 150 ranks 7th.
On June 20, Baranek received his call-up to A+ Jupiter and built on a 21-game on base streak by reaching in his first four games, turning it into a 25-game on base streak. He had a 30/81 with 11 walks. Over that span, Baranek had a .445 OBP.
A lefty hitter with a bit of surprising pop behind his 5’10”, 197 pound frame and quick bat speed propelled by a flashy cut with uppercut action and a strong raw throwing arm that stands to get better with improved accuracy, Baranek is a 20+ 9th round boom-or-bust draftee that should be fast-tracked through the minors. If his career thus far is any indication, he should end up on the right side of that equation as at least a fourth outfielder and/or lefty threat off the bench with the potential for more.
Chalk Baranek up to reach a ceiling of that of Nick Markakis with a more moderately adjusted expectation around Raul Ibanez, a career .801 OPS.
Like you didn’t know this was coming.
Fish On The Farm’s 2017 Minor League Player Of The year last season after hitting .322/.384/.416 in his first 57 pro games with Greensboro (he skipped through the GCL and short season), Miller began 2018 in A+ Jupiter. There, Miller continued to flaunt his for-average, gap thirsty swing and above-average speed, hitting .324 with 13 doubles and 19 steals in 25 attempts before getting the call to AA Jacksonville.
In his first 21 games for the Shrimp, Miller has answered the promotion to AA by hitting .321/.358/.417 in 21 games, reaching base in each of them and hitting in all but one of them. In other words, Miller has taken the toughest jump in the minors to take by adjusting immediately and continuing to be one of the most productive prospects in the organization despite his career being just 140 games old.
On top of good strike zone knowledge and vision, Miller’s calling card is his extremely quick bat speed that he uses to reach all parts of the plate and go to all fields. From there, Miller puts arguably the best of his four tools to work for him, his speed, to create runs. In 97 trips on base for the Hammerheads this year, Miller swiped 19 bags in 25 attempts. Trouble catching Miller has proven to be just as difficult for upper minors catchers as he has stolen seven in his first nine tries. Overall this season, Miller has an audacious 78% SB success rate (21/27).
Miller’s speed serves him just as well in the field where he owns a 2.00 range factor and .988 fielding percentage this season. Though he projects most advantageously as a center fielder Miller’s jets and good reads off the bat provide him with positional flexibility anywhere in the outfield.
A top of the order for-average on base threat who has hit at each of the three levels he’s played at in an extremely young Minor League career but one in which he has disallowed the Marlins from taking a watchful eye off of him as well as disallowing the organization from holding him back to repeat any level, we are penciling Miller in as a potential September call-up and as a shoe-in to get a long, extended look next year in Spring Training. With only one spot in next year’s Marlins’ outfield currently occupied (Lewis Brinson), Miller is the rest of the season doing exactly what he’s done his entire minor league career and a strong spring showing away from potentially appearing in an MLB Opening Day lineup. To do what Brian has done in such a short amount of time on the pro circuit can only be described in one word: wow.
From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.
Not far from this time last season, long time Marlins farm hand drafted in 2012 Austin Dean began his way back from a knee injury suffered seven games in to the 2017 season when he collided with a teammate in the outfield. After a .283/.325/.415 second half that year, a 100% healthy Dean returned to Jacksonville this season and in his third season’s worth of work for Jacksonville, proceeded to make Southern League history.
By hitting .420/.466/.654 in the first month of the season, Dean held the best overall batting line in the month of April since at least the year 2005. Following that showing in which Dean hit in 17/22 games and at one point had a 10 game hit streak, he was promoted to AAA New Orleans. The call-up came just over one month shy of the anniversary of Dean’s return from the most serious injury of his career which occurred in the same outfield he commanded this season. Talk about coming back with a vengeance.
What is more is that Dean’s success this year hasn’t been exclusive to the AA ranks. Instead, he is exhibiting the same well balanced and timed shortened line drive swing, the same knowledge of the strike zone and the same improved bat speed and plate coverage via the same better extension across the dish to become one of the better for-average and on-base threats at the highest level of Minor League Ball. Through 64 games, his .299 BA ranks 20th and his .373 BA ranks 23rd in the Pacific Coast League.
While it may have taken him six years, almost a year and a half total of which was spent on the shelf with various ailments, it looks as though Dean has finally realized the potential the Marlins saw in him when they drafted him out of a Texas high school in 2012. A .294/.367/.409 hitter against the best of what MiLB has to offer this year, Dean is a shoe-in for a September (if not earlier) call and a lead candidate to win a roster spot next season.
SP Nick Neidert
105.1 IP, 2.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 110/23 K/BB, .248 BAA
Nick Neidert was the main return piece in the trade with Seattle for Dee Gordon. In his first 17 games as an organizational Marlin, the 21-year-old has proven why he was such a sought after commodity.
Neidert, a second round pick by the Mariners out of Suwannee High in Georgia, impressed in his first two seasons as a pro, holding down a 2.50 ERA by way of a sub-1 WHIP and 5.15 K/BB before being promoted to AA late last year. comes back to his home coast.
After getting a taste of the competition in the upper minors, Neidert has begun to dominate it this season, proving his success wasn’t exclusive to A ball. In 17 games, the-22-year has held down a 2.91 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, marks which rank 3rd and 5th in the Southern League.
Neidert’s deception starts in his slow and deliberate delivery which he then speeds up at his moment of propulsion off his back foot. The sudden change in motion and acceleration makes Neidert one of the most difficult pitchers in the system to time and leads to a multitude of swings and misses and at the very least, off-balance contact when he’s hitting spots. His stuff consists of a low-mid-90s fastball with sink as well as arm-side run, a shapely changeup with good running fade and a 12-6 curve with sharp downward action. He commands all three pitches extremely well down in the zone and can spot on both corners.
Already the owner of a more than solid three pitch repertoire and great command via repeatable mechanics that deceive, Neidert stands to get a September call, fill out even more with pro coaching and be a mainstay among the top three in the Marlins’ rotation in 2019 and beyond.
Due to both offseason trades and the many promotions from last year’s great 75-61 Grasshoppers team, many Marlins draftees from the last two years look to make their presence felt in their first full season of pro ball this year. It’s a young squad and in most aspects a pretty raw one but with talent such as Jose Devers, J.C. Millan, Brayan Hernandez, Remey Reed and Brady Puckett on board, there’s plenty to be excited about this year in Greensboro.
.246/.321/.356, 70 HR, 414 XBH, 2.81 K/BB, 135 SB
1184.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.205 WHIP, 3.34 K/BB
At all levels of the minors and especially in the lower levels, the focus is not on winning but rather justifiably on development. However, at any level of sport, in regards to a player’s intangibles such as his/her psyche and drive to succeed, there are few things more valuable than being on the victorious side of games. In his first year at the helm in Greensboro, Todd Pratt proved that, partnering wins with positive growth in perfect harmony. While compiling a 75-61 record, second best in the South Atlantic League and bringing the Hoppers to the playoffs for the first time since 2014, Pratt saw upwards of 10 players graduate to the next level. According to third baseman James Nelson who was a Sally League All-Star and MVP candidate and second place finisher for the batting title via a .309/.354/.456 slash line as well as a very likely promotee this season, Pratt was able to do so by managing a carefree, loose clubhouse and by so doing, successfully shielding his club from any brand of unwarranted pressure.
“Pratt is one of the coolest coaches I’ve had the pleasure to play for. He keeps the game fun but it gets serious if things aren’t how they are suppose to be,” Nelson said. “The clubhouse has a lot of laid back vibes. Baseball is already hard and he doesn’t want to make it harder by stressing out after losses.”
J.C. Millan echoes his teammates sentiments.
“Pratt is awesome overall. On the field and of the field, he lets us go out and play and have fun. He’s always going to be in a great mood no matter what and that always motivates us to always enjoy the game just like he enjoys his job as a manager,” Millan said. “He likes to do everything the right way and he is always encouraging us to play hard no matter what the circumstances are.”
Rounding out Pratt’s staff will be hitting coach Frank Moore who oversaw the Sally’s best team walk rate of 10% and a .246/.321/.356 slash line last year. Returning pitching coach Mark DiFelice managed the Grasshoppers staff to a 3.66 ERA by way of a 1.20 WHIP, third best in the Sally League. Their 3.35 K/BB also ranked third.
SS Jose Devers
LF Michael Donadio
RF Isael Soto
DH/1B Lazaro Alonso
CF Brayan Hernandez
1B/DH Eric Gutierrez
2B J.C. Millan
3B Micah Brown
C Jared Barnes
Devers is a 2017 Yankee’s draftee who came to the Marlins in the trade for Giancarlo Stanton. He was acquired as a distant second piece compared to his former teammate, fireballing hurler Jorge Guzman. However, judging by what he showed both last season and this year in camp, there may be more ceiling value than currently meets the eye.
Despite averaging just .246 last year, Devers at just 17 years old last year, OBP’d .359. He did so by exhibiting the brand of strike zone knowledge of a Major League ready leadoff hitter, a tool many pros find too difficult to come by. What’s more is he was able to accomplish this against pitchers who were on average, nearly four years his elder. Devers coupled his selective offensive approach with even more impressive work in the field where he shows good range to both sides, amazing athleticism and a strong and accurate throwing arm. He has the ability to dazzle with the glove and make “how did he do that?” type plays regularly, going completely across his body with jump throws and showing lightning quick transfer tools after flashing just as fast a reaction time and first step to the ball off the bat. Devers rounds out his game with absolutely blazing speed on the bass paths that allowed him 15 steals last year at a positively alarming 85% success rate.
A tall and lanky 6’0” 155, Devers in both stature and skill set bears a striking resemblance to Elvis Andrus who hit a similar .265/.324/.362 in his age 17 season in A ball and who is a +9.9 career dWAR player. Devers, who will turn 18 in December, has a bit of work to do in the areas of bat speed and overall physical approach in terms of weight transfer and balance but that should come as his body fills out. Watching him play and go 100% every time he’s on the field, it’s easy to see why he was a favorite of former Yankees farm director turned Marlins farm director Gary Denbo and a target of his this offseason. Expect Devers to get a long and healthy amount of attention by the organization going forward starting this season in Greensboro.
LF Michael Donadio
2017 – A- – 31 G, .278/.407/.392, 8 XBH, 13 RBI, 23/16 K/BB
Donadio is a 2017 Marlins draft pick who had a beastly collegiate career at St. John’s. As a member of the Red Storm, Donadio hit .323/.433/.463 over a four year career including a .374/.473/.547 senior season. He was the first player in St. John’s history to earn first team All-Conference honors in each of his four seasons. Looking at his collegiate stats, there isn’t much to dislike. The only thing that may have turned him off to scouts is his lack of power (28.8 career XBH%) and his pretty pedestrian .252/.344/.313 showing against top talent in the Cape Cod League in 2015.
For whatever reason, the Marlins stole Donadio in round 30 of the 2017 Draft. From there, he finished out his season with the GCL Marlins. The change in competition level didn’t phase Donadio one bit. In his first 97 pro ABs, he hit .278/.407/.392. His OBP ranked second on the team and tied him for 17th best in the league. Donadio parlayed that performance into a great showing this spring against older talent.
Standing 6’, 195, Donadio is an athletic specimen who gets low in his left handed stance, keeps his head down and views pitches all the way to the glove. He reads pitchers well, gets in their heads and anticipates the break on pitches advantageously, fights off tough pitches and rarely lets a mistake go to waste. There’s some uppercut action to his swing which allows him to go to all fields with line drives. His favorite area to attack is straight up the middle of the box. While the extremely quick reflexes and strike zone management are extremely encouraging, Donadio is currently all arms and very little legs. Getting his lower half involved in his swing a bit more could give his game another aspect: the ability to reach fences. He’s probably never going to be a guy who hits 20+ homers but with some slight mechanical alterations, he could be a 20+ doubles threat with a great eye, making him an atypical table setter for the middle of the lineup.
In the field, Donadio flashes a good arm and good range to either side. He projects best as a top-of-the-order left fielder with room to grow into more. With projection, I like Donadio as a diamond-in-the-rough type draft selection and a candidate to skip Batavia and start with the Hoppers this season. If he’s not in North Carolina on Opening Day, he will definitely be there at some point this year.
RF Isael Soto
2017 – DNP (injury)
Soto is a Marlins’ 2013 international signee out of the Dominican looking to reestablish his prospect status after missing all of 2017 with a broken foot. It was the second time he’s missed significant time. In 2015, he missed almost the entire season with a torn meniscus. Once as high as the Marlins’ #8 prospect, his future is in some serious doubt due to his inability to stay healthy.
At the plate, Soto makes up for fairly limited size (6’0”, 190) by showing awesome bat speed and a short barrel path to the ball, giving him plus plus power upside. However, he’s far too aggressive early in at bats and his approach carries tons of swing and miss potential with it as proven by his 115/43 K/BB in 2016. His plate vision and over-commitment to swings need to make some huge leaps if he is to reach his ceiling as a potential frequent fence finding threat with a plus defensive arm in right field. However, with all the time he’s missed, that ceiling is starting to slip away. Entering his age 22 season still in low A, he’s starting to enter make it or break it territory.
Lazaro Alonso is an interesting backstory. Once regarded as the eighth best prospect in Cuba by way of a great breakout .299/.436/.494 showing in the island’s national series and a .395/.495/.535 campaign in 2016 season in its 23-and-under league, Alonso joined the Marlins in the 2016 International Draft, the same draft that held picks such as Yoan Moncada and Yasiel Puig. While he is very much their inferior in terms of service time and MLB readiness, Alonso had a great showing in Batavia last year as he adjusted to stateside ball by hitting .255/.366/.348 with a 56/37 K/BB.
As you may guess by looking at Alonso who stands 6’3”, 230, he owns ridiculous raw power. However, the word raw should be emphasized here. As decent as he was in his introduction to pro ball, he has tons of work to do mechanically. His biggest issue is an off-balanced load spurred by a faulty power transfer stance in which he bends his back leg in and his front leg out. It looks as uncomfortable physically as it projects statistically at the upper levels. While he can rope pitches on the inner half, he gets handcuffed on pitches on the outer half and gets caught reaching, often falling off to the plate side, leading to weak contact outs. If he can be coached to close his stance, cover the plate more advantageously and go to his opposite field, he has the swing selectiveness, batter’s eye and muscle to be at least a 20/20 threat while also posting a good OBP. A heady hitter who lets his natural tools work for him and doesn’t try to overpursue, I like Alonso as a very under-the-radar candidate to come out of virtually nowhere and make a name for himself.
CF Brayan Hernandez
2017 – A-/AAA – .263/.309/.406, 14 XBH, 42/10 K/BB
Hernandez, the main return piece in the David Phelps trade with the Mariners hails from Venezuela. A .252/.306/.408 hitter in 28 games with the Everett AquaSox, he finished his season out with the Muckdogs hitting a very similar .271/.302/.407 in 15 games. Though he is scouted as a potential five tool threat, Hernandez has a way to go if he hopes to reach that ceiling both in physical and mental growth. Just a 6’2”, 175 pound 20-year-old, hope is that Hernandez is simply a late bloomer both physically as well as mechanically and mentally. Playing in the Mariners organization probably hasn’t helped the right fielder who has a career 5.7 walk rate and 21.1 K rate. Seattle hasn’t graduated a top-tier outfield talent since it assisted with Adam Jones prior to his trade to the Orioles in 2008.
Two things will be needed if Hernandez is going to reach his ceiling as a complete talent: a rigorous new training regiment centered around adding muscle and a supreme focus on improving his recognition of breaking pitches. He also has a bad habit of trying to do too much on pitches on the outer half, trying to pull them instead of going with them.
In the field and on the bases, there is little to dislike about Hernandez’s games. He has plus speed with good instincts and the ability to cover all necessary ground at all three spots. He projects best as a center fielder but given the current scope of the Marlins minor league system, he will probably start seeing more time in right field. Entering his age 21 season, Hernandez still has time to reach his Odubel Herrera-esque ceiling but if that is to become a reality, he will need to start making progressive advancements towards it this year.
Millan, a Cuba native, spent his high school and collegiate years locally in South Florida. After attending high school at Brito Academy, he was a standout in a single season at Broward College where he hit .324/.407/.443 where his batting average, OBP and .850 OPS all ranked top five in his conference. He also swiped 18 bags, second in the conference. Prior to the 2016 MLB Draft, the Marlins signed Millan as a free agent. After breaking in in the GCL that year, Millan began to show positive adjustments to the wood bat professional ranks last year when he hit .273/.304/.402 in 44 games in Batavia and earned himself a cup of coffee with the Grasshoppers at the end of the season. But as excited as he was to enjoy the success he did, Millan knows it was the beginning of a lengthy ride and that there’s still tons of work to be done, starting immediately.
“2017 was a good start for me but that’s already in the past,” Millan said. “This year is a fresh start. I’m excited to get back on the field and get rolling.”
Millan participated in camp this year on the main backfields and against the highest competition on low A-high A camp days, sometimes against competition as high as A+ and, by my estimation, looked great. He collected a few hits and made all the plays necessary of him in the field. Millan credits his readiness for his first full pro season to the cup of coffee he got in Greensboro at the end of last year, even though initially, it was a bit of a sharp learning curve, adjusting to both his competition and surroundings.
“Greensboro was great for me even though it didn’t come out how I wanted.” Millan said. “The speed of the game took over me the first week I went up. It was first time I got to play at such a nice stadium. But those were all learning experiences that I had to go through and I will be prepared for the upcoming season.”
Regarding how he is feeling heading into by far the most extensive season of his baseball career, Millan believes he is well prepared and is focused well focused on keeping his body at 100% capacity. With a lot of familiar faces around from his time in Batavia last year, he also believes there will be great camaraderie from the get go.
“I’m excited for this full season. I got a little taste of how it was going to be and it’s going to be a fun ride with all the guys I’ve played with,” Millan said. “It’s just a matter of staying healthy all year and going out everyday to give it your best.”
Millan is a 6’0”, 185 pound athletic specimen who swings from a preloaded split stance that stretches nearly the entire frame of the batters box. With slight bend in his back leg and a short stride to the ball, he generates good line drive contact from the barrel. He’s aggressive in the fact that he likes to crowd the inner half and shows good ability to get extended to pitches on the outer half. He could use to find more strength in his hands to fight off pitches high and in but his hands are still quick enough to get around on them. During his time in Greensboro last year, as he stated, was getting accustomed to the quicker pace of play, the speed of the field and the much higher level of competition. However, all of those are things that will and have already started to come with more innings and more at bats.
Heading into this season, I really like Millan to surprise a lot of people as a catalytic type singles threat with good foundational patience and mechanics and good footwork and range to either side in the field, and plus plus speed on the base paths. A potential ceiling leadoff threat and 20+ base stealer while hitting for a plus average, he’s a great story out of Cuba, reminiscent of Jose Fernandez with similar compete level who shouldn’t be slept on.
SP Tyler Kolek
SP Remey Reed
SP Tyler Braley
SP Brady Puckett
SP Brandon Miller
CL Colton Hock
2017 – A- (rehab) – 3.2 IP, 29.45 ERA, 4.91 WHIP, 0.07 K/BB
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it is. After missing all of 2016 and nearly all of 2017 with Tommy John, Kolek will make his return to the Grasshoppers this season. A prized first round draft pick, second overall by the Marlins in 2014 after he wowed scouts by hitting as high as 103 mph as a high schooler, Kolek’s career so far has been an unbridled disaster that has cost the Marlins $6,000,000 in signing money.
After signing in 2014, the first two years of Kolek’s career were underwhelming at best. He showed similar plus velocity on his heat that he was valued for pre-draft (though he rarely hit triple digits and was definitely overthrowing when he did) but the pitch was dead straight. Each of Kolek’s secondary offerings were very immature to the level they were barely existent. He showed the beginnings of a 86-88 mph changeup and a similar velo slider but the release points are very inconsistent and he looks very uncomfortable throwing each of them. Another mechanical issue for Kolek was repeatability stemming from very little action in his lower half. Instead, Kolek appeared to be all arm, failing to push off the rubber and failing to throw downhill which is definitely what led to his arm being blown out.
Now 21 and returning from major injury, Kolek, who enjoyed very little pro success, will need to completely rebrand both his arsenal and tools if he hopes to succeed as a big leaguer. Can he do it? The answer is time will tell. What is undoubtedly evident is that Kolek has the compete level and drive to do so. However, it takes a special individual to become a different player at this point in his career. While such a high draft pick will be given every chance to do so, I suspect Kolek’s big league future lies in the bullpen.
A Marlins’ 6th rounder in 2016, Reed held down a 2.66 ERA in 122 innings at Division I Oklahoma State mostly out of the bullpen, Reed saw extensive time as a starter with Batavia last year, proving the Marlins are tabbing him as a future rotational candidate. Reed performed fairly well in this interview of sorts, especially considering they came in his first season as a professional. In his eleven starts, he held down a 4.15 ERA with a 42/12 K/BB over 43.1 IP. The highlight was a 6 inning 2 hit shutout in his second-to-last outing of the year against Mahoning Valley in which 47 of his 77 pitches went for strikes.
Reed is a massive 6’5” 230 which would make him the fourth tallest pitcher to ever throw in a Marlins uniform behind only John Rauch, Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller and Josh Johnson. The biggest knock on Reed’s game so far in his career is that he hasn’t been able to use his great size to his advantage. Rather than using his long limbs to generate plus velo, he is a slow and deliberate worker with an arsenal that matches. Rarely touching 90, he releases late from a high over the top slot without much deception in his delivery. He commands his fastball well and it has a flash of late life to it but each of his secondaries, an 83-86 mph changeup, an 86-88 mph slider and a slow 71-74 12-6 curve are very unpolished. He has the profile to pitch deep in games and be an effective low-effort innings eating starter but he will need to develop a better feel for his offspeed stuff. If he can modify his mechanics to include better lower body involvement, his ceiling could be that of a 2-3 starter. Right now though, with a lot of arms ahead of him in a similar time frame, he projects best as a reliever.
2017 – A- – 49 IP, 2.92 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 35/9 K/BB
Puckett is another huge specimen — 6’8, 220 — which would make him the second tallest hurler in Marlins history
Here, there’s a ton of plus projection. Though the Lipscomb University alum is another guy that won’t wow with velo, Puckett, 22, already owns a plus-plus secondary offerings on top of a good lively arm side running heater. He gets his size involved in his delivery well, leaning slightly to his arm side, creating a downward plane and throwing from a high 3/4 slot, making him incredibly difficult to pick up. Everything is commanded well on the lower half creating advantageous weak contact, and plenty of late swings, setting up the out pitch slider which has the capacity to be downright unfair when he’s painting the corners with it. From his high release point, the pitch planes down and sweeps to the corner with extremely late life. It’s a plus-plus pitch at this point and by far his best offering. Regarding the pitch, Puckett says he can throw it multiple ways. Depending on how good it is daily, he is able to hit both his arm side and inside opposite corners, giving it more of a cut fastball profile.
“I like to call it a cutter but some days it moves more like a slider,” Puckett said. “I’m pretty confident in it. I like to throw it to both left handed and right handed hitters.”
He also owns a solid 85 mph changeup that shows good depth and the beginnings of a slow curveball that shows flashes but at this point is just a mix-in.
A master at inside-outing hitters and working the entire zone when he is on, Puckett projects very well as a back end starter. He could use to improve a bit in terms of location consistency. Puckett says that trouble arises when he lets pressure get to him, leading to a tendency to overthrow. But he has a plan to remedy that issue.
“Whenever I try to throw the ball real hard is when I get myself into trouble,” Puckett said. “I just need to stay within myself and think miss smaller, not throw harder.”
Though he is headed into his first full professional season, Puckett says his past two years of work have made he and his body well equipped for the rigors of a large amount of work.
“The past 2 years I have thrown around 150 innings each year so I’m hoping that will help my body be prepared for a full season,” Puckett said.
Even though can be quite hittable when he doesn’t have his best stuff and is catching too much plate, he shows the ability to adjust and still does enough to limit damage. A guy who already has good command of two plus pitches, is developing two more, uses size by creating downward action and deception and has improving command, Puckett profiles as a good mix of a strikeout guy and limited contact guy. A hurler who can get outs multiple ways, I like Puckett to reach a ceiling somewhere comparable to Brandon McCarthy, a career 3.97 FIP, 2.97 K/BB starter.
.226/.307/.342, 56 HR, 375 XBH, 152 SB, 2.9 K/BB
1191 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.10 K/BB