The Miami Marlins suffered a lot on the field, but that was expected at the Major League level. At the minor league level, the Fish did a much better job. The performances of certain players were good omens for a brighter future at the big league level, as the Marlins' youngest talents played well enough.
Before the season, Fish Stripes reviewed the team's top 20 prospects, and with the 2013 campaign finished, it seems like a good time to review how each of those 20 players fared this year. Did their stocks go up or down, and by how much?
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP
Before the season, Fernandez was touted as one of the best prospects in baseball, but probably someone who was not ready for the majors. By the end of the year, we may be calling him Rookie of the Year after one of the best rookie pitching seasons in recent memory. I would say that is a successful stint.
2. Christian Yelich, OF
Yelich entered the year somehow surpassed by the spectacular play of Fernandez, but he had a surprisingly mixed season that still turned out well. On the one hand, he showed some pop in the minors, launching seven homers in 222 plate appearances and putting up a .238 ISO in Double-A. On the other hand, that power was not there in the majors, where his .108 ISO showed room for improvement. His Double-A (.280/.365/.518) and Major League (.288/.370/.396) lines were both impressive, but marred by strikeout problems too.
3. Jake Marisnick, OF
Marisnick also boasted a great 2013 line in Double-A (.294/.358/.502), but many of the same questions about his game are still present. This showed he could handle Double-A, but his cup of coffee in the majors did not go well (.183/.231/.248) and ended with an elbow injury. Despite a year of progress, Marisnick still has not proven everything he needs to.
4. Andrew Heaney, LHP
Heaney started the season late thanks to injury, but he jumped out of the gates fast and furious when he finally got a chance. The 2012 first-round pick proved his mettle by quickly dispatching of the High-A level, as he threw 61 2/3 innings in High-A Jupiter and posted a 0.88 ERA (!) and 2.60 FIP. His six-start stint in Double-A went well, but not as well, and he will have to prove he can still strike out batters at that level if he wants to advance further in 2014.
5. Marcell Ozuna, OF
Ozuna was forced to start the 2013 season essentially in the majors, as he played all of 47 plate appearances in Double-A before the majors and injuries took over his season. The results were questionable.
6. Justin Nicolino, LHP
There was a question heading into this season as to whether Nicolino could generate strikeouts, but prior to the season, it had yet to rear its ugly head. This season, it finally did, but that did no stop Nicolino from having a nice year in the minors. He split time between High-A and Double-A like Heaney and put up a 3.10 ERA and 3.08 FIP.
7. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Hechavarria, like Mathis before him, somehow outdid his own low expectations at the plate. He only complicated matters further by not playing top notch defense, at least according to the defensive metrics of this year. It is possible that Hechavarria was still good at shortstop, but the poor metrics do cast a shadow on the rosy experiment from the start of the year. Did I mention that he was terrible at the plate? Grade: F
8. Rob Brantly, C
Not as bad as Hechavarria's performance, but somehow he outdid the very worst we could have expected from him. Again from the report card:
Brantly failed to meet expectations based on last year's strong start, but he did so in a spectacular fashion. Most people figured he would not hit .290/.372/.460, but to hit as close as he did to his backup's numbers is a thorough embarrassment. Grade: F
9. Jacob Realmuto, C
Last year, Realmuto hit just .256/.319/.345 (.310 wOBA) and began to get prospect folks worried about his bat, but everyone figured he may hit just well enough to justify his now-advanced glove behind the plate. Now, he has two years of terrible hitting under his belt, as he hit just .239/.310/.353 (.308 wOBA) in Double-A and is falling out of favor as the catcher of the future in Miami.
10. Adam Conley, LHP
This was Conley's best season in the minors, and it easily should shoot him up the ranks among the team's gaggle of pitching prospects. He put up 138 2/3 innings of 3.25 ERA (2.95 FIP) ball in Double-A, showing that he can handle better hitters, still strike them out (22.2 percent strikeout rate) and tone his walks down (6.4 percent walk rate). His impressive season may earn him some play at the back end of the Marlins' rotation at some point in 2014.
11. Derek Dietrich, 2B
Dietrich had a great start to his 2013 season in Double-A, but he too was among the prospects roped into early-season promotion duty thanks to the numerous injuries at the Major League level. He went from a .271/.381/.509 line in the minors to being exposed by Major League breaking balls en route to a 24 percent strikeout rate. It does not help that he was the player who was charged with filing the complaint against former hitting coach Tino Martinez about his abusive behavior, leading to Martinez's firing and Dietrich landing in the doghouse.
12. Jose Urena, RHP
Urena put up almost a mirror image of his 2012 season with Low-A Greensboro, as he put up a 17.3 percent strikeout rate and 4.7 walk rate en route to a 3.73 ERA. The more impressive 3.17 FIP was due to a lack of home runs allowed, but Urena essentially replicated an already promising performance and it should lead to a Double-A promotion.
13. Mason Hope, RHP
Hope regressed after a strong 2012 season, as his walk rate jumped and reality set in regarding home runs. His 4.94 ERA and 5.10 FIP essentially will guarantee him a repeat of the level. The only good news regarding that is that he is still relatively young and can afford to repeat Jupiter and potentially take advantage of a friendly pitcher's atmosphere.
14. Jesus Solorzano, OF
Solorzano continues to appear decent without a particular hint of greatness in terms of his numbers. This year, he had a decent .285/.325/.450 batting line in Low-A Greesnboro, but about the only thing you can say for sure about the outfielder is that he has passed the full-season ball test, as he made it an entire year and maintained his previous level of play.
15. Zack Cox, 3B
Cox was sent back to Double-A Jacksonville after flailing about in two different Triple-A affiliates last year. The results were not so pleasing, as he hit a meager .269/.357/.367 and managed just three homers in 325 plate appearances before suffering an injury that kept him out for much of the rest of the year. His prospect sheen as a first-round pick is all but gone.
16. Austin Brice, RHP
Brice was a potential hidden gem in the Marlins organization, but that gem was crushed in Low-A Greensboro in 2013. He threw 113 innings at the level and could not find his control, walking 15.2 percent of batters faced without his previously high strikeout rate. That led to a 5.73 ERA and 5.05 FIP and a ticket to repeat the level.
17. Kolby Copeland, OF
Copeland had an acceptable first run in the minors last year, and that sneaked him into the top 20 based on the performance and his natural talent. Unfortunately, he tested positive for a substance and was suspended 50 games, essentially missing all of the Short-Season A-ball year.
18. Avery Romero, SS
Romero performed well in Short-Season A-ball, batting .291/.357/.411 (.361 wOBA), and that earned him a short stint in Low-A Greensboro and his continued stance as a decent middle infield prospect for the Fish. The former third-round draft pick whom the team enticed away from the University of Florida will get his first full-season shot next season, but may also experience his first position change.
19. Arquimedes Caminero, RHP
Caminero has impressed at every stop in his minor league journey in the last few years when he has been healthy, and that did not stop last season in Double-A. He put up a 3.61 ERA and 2.97 FIP with an impressive 32.2 percent strikeout rate and should get some Major League playing time next year if the Marlins go young in the pen.
20. Alfredo Silverio, OF
Silverio was the team's Rule 5 draft pick in 2013, and he had an outside chance at an outfield job in the majors, at least as a backup. But while he did play in Spring Training, he was pulled early in the process due to some elbow tightening and eventually missed the rest of the season undergoing a second Tommy John surgery.