Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
A comparison of the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals top prospects, position by position.
While anxiously awaiting the day pitchers and catchers report, I came up with what I think is a brilliant idea. During Spring Training, each major league team should form a prospect All-Star team, filled with their top prospects not at major league spring training. While I have no say with the commissioner, it is fun to dream about something like this happening. Anyways, I came up with the idea to compare the Marlins prospects with other teams in the N.L. East and their top prospects. I've already looked at the Mets, the Phillies, and the Braves.
DISCLAIMER: This is in no way to determine which team has the better farm system.
Catcher: Catcher, a strength for the Marlins, is definitely a weak area for the Nationals. After Wilson Ramos was injured in 2012, the Nationals searched high and low throughout their system for a catcher talented enough to help them during their playoff push, and the best they could find was Sandy Leon. Leon is a rare breed of catcher. He's still very young, but he's talented defensively and he hits and runs like a slow, grizzled veteran. Luckily for Washington, Leon won't play in the majors in 2013 unless Wilson Ramos or Kurt Suzuki gets hurt. Rob Brantly and J.T. Realmuto are easily better prospects than Leon and Spencer Kieboom, a 2012 5th round pick out of Clemson. Advantage: Miami
First Base: Chris Marrero, a 2006 first-round pick, looked like he could finally break into the majors with Washington in 2012. However, a nagging hamstring injury plagued him throughout the season at Triple-A Syracuse and his already disappearing prospect stock pretty much vanished. Marrero is still fairly young, but it would be a shock to me if he ever played in more than 50 games at the Major League level. If there is anything to be learned from Marrero's history, it's just more proof that drafting a First Baseman early on almost never works out. Mark Canha is a better prospect than Marrero, but it is fascinating that Canha is only one year younger than the former top prospect. Advantage: Miami
Second Base: Finally it seems as if the Marlins have met their match at second base. No other team has defeated the dynamic duo that is Austin Barnes and Noah Perio, but Washington has two very talented prospects that just might do it. Tony Renda, a 2012 second-round pick from Cal, is a personal favorite prospect of mine. What he lacks in size, he makes up for not only in grit, but in bat speed as well. Renda is an advanced hitter who could rocket through the minors. It's easy to see why some think Renda was a "safe pick" by the Nationals, but I believe Renda has the talent to become a second-division starter at second base for multiple seasons.
I am a little bit less familiar with Washington prospect Jeff Kobernus, but according to Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs, Kobernus has 75-80 speed with steady defense. He could play in the majors in 2013, assuming he hits at Triple-A. Austin Barnes reminds me a lot of Tony Renda. They are both undersized with above-average raw hitting ability. If I had to choose one, I'd have to take Barnes because of his athleticism and power. However, Washington deserves to win this category, due to the combination of Kobernus's speed and Renda's consistently gritty play. Advantage: Washington
Third Base: This is the one category I despise ranking every time, simply because Zack Cox hardly ever stands a chance against his opponent. That's not so much a shot at Cox, but more of an observation of where Miami, as an organization, stands at 3B right now. Anthony Rendon and Matt Skole both could be above-average Major League players. Both of them might have to find new positions (mainly because of Ryan Zimmerman) but Rendon and Skole could both bring a lot to their team offensively. Sorry, Zack Cox. Advantage: Washington
Shortstop: I am still puzzled as to why Baseball America ranked Zach Walters as Washington's 10th best prospect. Walters, who was acquired in July of 2011 in the Jason Marquis trade, has about a 50% chance of playing shortstop long-term. He'll likely become a utility infielder who can fill in where needed and provide a little bit of gap power. Adeiny Hechavarria and Derek Dietrich are both better overall prospects than Walters. Even though Dietrich isn't going to be able to stick at shortstop, his power will propel him into the majors sooner rather than later. Advantage: Miami
Outfield: Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Jake Marisnick make the Nationals outfield prospects look silly. Sure, they still have someone named Bryce Harper already in Washington, but their prospects don't come close to matching up with Miami's. Eury Perez, Brian Goodwin, and Destin Hood. Goodwin is the best of the bunch. He's a toolsy outfielder with a great body, who showed flashes of domination at times during 2012. However, for as much as I like Goodwin, I'm afraid that Washington will be too aggressive with promoting him and not give him enough time to develop. Goodwin is a better prospect than Ozuna and Marisnick, but neither Perez nor Hood are better than any of Miami's three, so I have to go with the Marlins once again. Advantage: Miami
Pitching: What do Lucas Giolito, Nate Karns, Christian Garcia, Sammy Solis, and Matt Purke all have in common? Well, they are all some of the Nationals top pitching prospects and they all have had trouble with injuries in the past. Giolito, a first-round pick, saw his draft stock plummet after word got out that he had suffered an elbow injury in his Senior season at Harvard-Westlake HS in California. If he had stayed healthy, some believe that he could have been the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Nationals have shown that they will be cautious with Stephen Strasburg, now, they will be forced to act the same way with Giolito. This category would be a win for Washington if all of their pitchers in question had stayed injury-free throughout their careers. However, because Miami has pitchers like Jose Fernandez and Jose Urena that have managed to stay off the Disabled List pretty much their entire careers, Miami sneaks in another win here. Advantage: Miami
Final Tally: Miami Marlins 5, Washington Nationals 2