2012 Miami Marlins What Went Right: The Prospect Early Returns

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Miami Marlins made a number of trades in the 2012 trade deadline that brought in prospects like Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Rob Brantly. In 2012, the early returns on those prospects were very encouraging.

Yesterday, the 2012 Miami Marlins Season Review series focused on one major aspect of the 2012 season, the trade deadline deals. The deals overall were looked at as a positive despite their immediate effect on the 2012 season (more on that later), and with good reason. The Marlins did not acquire multiple unknown names in these trades. Jacob Turner was a top pitching prospect and the Marlins paid for that much in trading Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for him. In the trade, the Marlins also acquired a potential catcher of the future in Rob Brantly as well. With the Hanley Ramirez trade, the Fish somehow turned a low-valued trade asset in Ramirez and his contract into a top-100 prospect.

The Marlins had to feel like they received fair value for their deadline trades this season, but it has to help that the three players mentioned above succeeded at the major league level already in 2012. Each player listed was given a decent amount of time as a trial in the major leagues, primarily due to necessity. With Sanchez traded, a rotation spot was open for Eovaldi, who was pitching in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation at the time of the deal. When Carlos Zambrano continued his mighty struggles, it was only a matter of time until Turner made his Marlins debut to replace him in that spot. As for Brantly, John Buck was a major contributor of the offensive struggles of 2012, and with Brantly being a left-handed hitter, it was only natural for the Marlins to use the remainder of 2012 as a platoon opportunity.

But when the Marlins did test out those players in the majors, each prospect found a decent amount of success in the big leagues, and the Fish have to be encouraged by that development. By far, the most important development is the progress shown by Turner in the majors. Following a difficult season in Triple-A both with the Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins organizations, there were major question marks about Turner's game. Had he been stunted by the Tigers' super-fast promotion system? Were his strikeout problems real? Well, given his numbers, Marlins fans need not be so concerned.

Turner, 2012 IP K% BB% ERA FIP
Miami Marlins 42 2/3 17.1 5.3 3.38 3.89

The numbers look better than his performance, which felt borderline shaky for much of his time in the majors. Turner proved that his strikeouts were not as much of a concern as initially thought, as he missed bats at a pretty good pace compared to his earlier stints in Detroit. His lone problem with home runs slowed down and began regressing as the Fish grew more comfortable with his innings count, and Turner avoided enough walks to help avoid giving up more runs on those dingers. The .220 BABIP should be alarming, as the Marlins' defense is certainly not capable of helping him sustain that, but even at an ERA closer to 4.00 as his FIP indicates, Turner's 2012 season would still be considered a grand success given his poor major league start in Detroit.

For Brantly, one of the other major pieces of that Detroit Tigers trade, the debut came because he forced his way into the majors. After excelling in 195 Double-A PA, the Tigers promoted him to Triple-A. While he struggled there with Detroit, he sparked a fierce hot streak when he arrived in Triple-A New Orleans in Miami, and despite an early 1-for-17 start in the majors, the streak continued at the big league level.

Brantly, 2012 PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Miami Marlins 113 .290 .372 .460 .354

If the Marlins could consistently get even half of that production above the league average, they would be very happy with Brantly's play. The book on Brantly was that he was a capable contact hitter with a line drive swing that did not produce a lot of pop but could pick up enough singles to keep his batting average high. Surprisingly, all of that seemed to translate in his small major league sample with Miami and more. After hitting just five homers between two different minor league levels this season, Brantly hit thee in 113 PA in the majors and posted a surprising .170 ISO. He also was able to lay off more pitches than expected and draw a decent number of walks (11.5 percent), though that may have been due to his standing at the bottom of the order.

Eovaldi had the toughest time in the majors among the three players, but even he showed promising signs.

Eovaldi, 2012 IP K% BB% ERA FIP
Miami Marlins 63 15.4 9.5 4.43 4.16

Eovaldi's biggest issue heading into his Marlins campaign was that he struggled versus left-handers without an adequate third pitch. This showed early on in his starts, in which he struggled to get strikeouts against opposite-handed pitchers thanks to a combination of poor offerings and a flat fastball. Yet, later on in the year, Eovaldi turned on another gear, whiffing a career-high eight batters in a game with a lights-out fastball against the Atlanta Braves and ending the season with an excellent month of September. In that final month of the season, Eovaldi struck out 22.5 percent of batters with only a 6.7 percent walk rate, leading to a 3.72 ERA and 2.61 FIP. All of those marks were the best of his young career in any one month and could show that he is capable of striking out batters and performing decently at the back end of the rotation starting in 2013.

The three biggest names coming back from the Marlins' midseason trades performed well in their major league and Marlins debuts, and their early success could go a long way to determining their future roles in the organization. With Turner and Eovaldi pitching decently, the Marlins are almost assured two spots in next season's rotation already secured. Brantly's performance was good enough to take a platoon timeshare with incumbent John Buck, and it is hard to see the Marlins going to anything but that plan next season as well. While the trades may have hurt the Fish in other areas, the prospects the team received back look ready to contribute in the majors next season.

What did you Fish Stripes readers think of the Marlins' prospects and their early returns? Tell us in the comments.

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