The criticism directed at the Miami Marlins front office after November's blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays unfortunately overshadowed the talent of the young players headed to South Beach. While the Miami faithful certainly have every right to be upset with the trade, they cannot deny the talent of outfield prospect Jake Marisnick, who finishes third on our Fish Stripes Top 20 Miami Marlins Prospects list.
At 6'4", 200 lbs., Marisnick is a tremendous athlete whose five-tool potential could make him a valuable presence in center field at the big league level. He was ranked the 67th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season and the 70th-best prospect by MLB.com entering this season. Since being drafted, Marisnick has flashed his potential for all five tools at a variety of different levels. His best season to date came in 2011 for the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts, where he posted a slash line of .320/.392/.496 to go along with 14 home runs and 37 stolen bases.
Marisnick uses his 6'4" frame to generate good bat speed, and as a result, shows the potential for plus power down the road. Right now, Marisnick has more of a line-drive swing that is perfect for reaching the gaps, but with further development he could certainly add loft that would start turning many of his doubles and triples into home runs. It may be a stretch to project him for 30-plus home run seasons at this point, but you can still expect 20-25 to be a reasonable number. Though Marisnick does not possess blazing speed, he is a smart enough baserunner to make an impact at the big league level. Over his minor league career, Marisnick has posted an impressive 82.3 stolen base percentage in just over 100 attempts and likely the potential for 20-25 steal seasons down the road.
As mentioned before, Marisnick is athletic enough that many believe he will be able to stick in center field. He has the speed and instincts to reach balls in the gap, and he has started taking better paths to the ball. Most importantly, Marisnick gives the Marlins a true center field prospect that will allow them to safely move outfield prospect Christian Yelich to left field, where many believe he is best suited.
After starting the 2012 season in high Class-A, Toronto aggressively pushed the 21-year-old Marisnick to Double-A New Hampshire for the second half of the season, where he ended up struggling, posting a line of .233/.286/.336 in 55 games. The good news for Marlins fans is that there will be no rush to push Marisnick beyond the level he is ready for, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him spend all of the 2013 season in Double-A Jacksonville.
Despite flashing all five tools throughout his professional career, Marisnick is not a bonafide, can't-miss, up-the-middle talent like we have seen in recent years with guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Marisnick still requires a bit of projection, and because he is just 21 years old (he turns 22 next month), there is still the possibility that one or more of these tools will not pan out the way Marlins fans may hope for. Either way, the presence of Jake Marisnick gives a great boost to a farm system that was among the worst in the game heading into last season. If all goes according to plan, you can expect to see Marisnick making his impact on the Marlins' roster some time during the 2014 season.
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