The Miami Marlins traded Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three pitching prospects in early July of 2013. The Fish knew that they had to send Nolasco away for value. He was not going to be retained after this year no matter how well he played, and offering him a qualifying offer to try and get draft pick compensation would have been a disastrous move. The Fish wanted to extract something out of the last piece of the 2006 era remaining.
Who did they end up extracting? Three marginal minor league pitching talents with major question marks. Steven Ames, Josh Wall, and Angel Sanchez each held some intrigue, but all had visible flaws in their game. The Marlins were stuck with such a package in part because the team refused to offer any money in the trade to provide salary relief. Nolasco's remaining $5 million-plus ended up being on the Dodgers' tab, but it meant that the team not getting a mid-range prospect name on their team in a trade.
But how well did the players they did get do with Miami? Here is a quick look at how each returning player fared with the Fish and their minor league affiliates.
Ames had a short stint in Triple-A, but he was the first and only name from the three pitchers who were acquired by Miami. Ames was the most prepared, having toiled as a closer with elite numbers in each of his last three years in the minors. However, his play in Triple-A was not good this year, as he struck out only 18.4 percent of batters faced with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate. His nine appearances with Triple-A New Orleans were no better, as he gave up a 3.75 ERA and 5.53 FIP in 12 innings. His overall Triple-A strikeout rate this year has plummeted to 16.3 percent from a 28.8 percent mark last season in Double-A.
Ames was promoted for a short time period to the Marlins, but he was primarily used in garbage innings with the Fish well behind early or well ahead late. Ames threw four innings and played passably, but the stuff he flashed was mediocre. Particularly concerning was his meek 90 mph fastball out of the bullpen.
Wall was an interesting player after he was acquired, as he dropped his walk rate down to 8.2 percent from a terrible 13.2 percent with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate. He was also able to keep a decent 21.7 percent strikeout rate, and that combination may have earned him an opportunity to compete for a bullpen job next season.
But the Marlins did not particularly think Wall was interesting enough to protect, as the team lost him to a waiver claim by the Los Angeles Angels. Wall finished the year with a 21 percent strikeout rate, an 11 percent walk rate, and a pedestrian 4.56 ERA.
Sanchez was the youngest of the three pitchers and was sent to the Marlins' High-A Jupiter affiliate to work on his game and potentially get a Double-A promotion next year. Sanchez's 3.22 ERA and 4.13 FIP in High-A Jupiter do not necessarily show that he is ready, but the pitcher did about as well as he had in previous levels. Given his age (23 years old in one month), the Marlins may be best served promoting him soon to let him sink or swim at a higher level instead of letting him waste more time in the low minors. Sanchez was promoted in previous levels with similar performances.