While we patiently await the arrivals of the Marlins newest prospects (Rob Brantly went 3 for 4 in his first game with New Orleans on Wednesday), let’s have a look at three intriguing prospects in the Marlins’ farm system. Charlie Lowell, Drew Steckenrider, and Bryan Berglund, have all been names on the tips of scout’s tongues these last couple weeks. Here’s some quick notes on each of these players.
Charlie Lowell, LHP, Greensboro: Charlie Lowell’s last two starts have been the best outings of his professional career. On July 16th, Lowell held the Kannapolis team to only one hit for seven innings, while striking out fourteen batters and walking none. On July 21st against Asheville, Lowell threw seven shutout innings striking out nine and only walking one. His defense has definitely helped him a lot, but the lack of walks and insane numbers of strikeouts are pretty awesome.
A sixth round draft pick out of Wichita State in 2011, Lowell has finally started to put things together in the South Atlantic League this year. Lowell, who turned twenty-one, last October, is about 6’4’’ and weighs around 240 pounds. In college, Lowell could touch 95 MPH, but now he sits around 91-93. His slider is his only future plus pitch. The slider is roughly 80-82 MPH (Inconsistent gun readings from his last start had him throwing it much faster but this is where his slider has been all season) and has great horizontal movement. In Lowell’s last start against Asheville, six out of his nine strikeouts came via his slider. Lowell has always struggled with command, but scouts are raging about his newfound control of his slider in particular. Charlie Lowell’s ceiling is probably what we’ve thought it has been since he was drafted. A solid #3 starter with the ability to throw two hundred innings a year. However, the chance of him reaching his potential has never looked this encouraging.
Drew Steckenrider, RHP, Jamestown: Steckenrider was the Marlins’ eighth round pick this year out of the University of Tennessee. As much as it hurts for me to compliment a Volunteer, Steckenrider had a fabulous three seasons at Tennessee. Working primarily out of the bullpen, Steckenrider started to dominate his Junior year, leading the SEC with an opponent’s batting average of .197, and striking out over ten hitters per nine innings. Steckenrider was partly concentrating on hitting (He got almost two hundred at bat’s in his Junior year), but his future with the Marlins is as a pitcher.
Steckenrider is a huge guy; he’s almost 6’5’’ and weighs about two hundred and twenty pounds. His fastball is in the low to mid 90’s, and he is still learning how to become more of a pitcher, and less of a thrower. Having concentrated on hitting for most of his career, Steckenrider is fairly raw compared to pitchers his age. However, his imposing build and athleticism making him a future Marlins’ bullpen candidate. In only three games so far, Steckenrider has only seven innings at Jamestown this year, but he has continued to strike out a ton of hitters, and walk almost just as many. Keep an eye on Steckenrider, because I have a feeling his athleticism and him having the chance to focus solely on pitching could potentially make him a quick riser through the Marlins’ system
Bryan Berglund, RHP, Jamestown: Berglund was the Marlins’ 2009 second-round pick out of a California high school. As someone who spent part of his childhood in Sweden, Berglund was as raw as expected. However, his height (6’4’’) and projectable fastball which had been clocked at up to 95 MPH made him an elite pro prospect. However, sometimes things don’t go as planned with draft picks. Berglund had yet to pitch in a professional game until he got into action with Jamestown this year. He has missed time due to a serious labrum injury, and I think his arm has held him out of action as well.
Finally, we get to see this guy playing for a Marlins’ affiliate. Berglund is still only twenty-one, but his injuries have made turned him into a whole different pitcher. Still, he has an interesting story, and he’s got Sweden behind him. In ten innings pitching out of the bullpen for Jamestown this year, Berglund has a 3.60 ERA and 6.30 K/9 and BB/9. The Marlins are definitely playing it safe with Berglund, but look for them to up his workload in the second half of Jamestown’s season.