The Miami Marlins had come off of five consecutive drafts in which they only came up with one true Major Leaue player, star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. There were questions about the rest of the players on their list, with none of them serving as potential building blocks in the future. But the 2010 draft kicked off a flurry of top-level talent for the Fish, and it all started off with their fortunate first-round draft pick.
In the next few days, Fish Stripes will review the last four drafts of the Miami Marlins and note the sort of outcomes we have seen so far from the most recent classes. We start off with 2010 and one of the current team's top contributors.
First Round: Christian Yelich
Drafted: First round, 23rd overall
School: Westlake High School (Westlake Village, CA)
Current level: MLB, Miami Marlins
Baseball America Top Ranking: 15th (2013)
Minor League Ball Top Ranking: 12th (2013)
Christian Yelich was drafted out of Westlake High School and signed away by the Marlins despite a commitment to the University of Miami. In some ways, he was destined to come to south Florida and succeed, and his rapid ascent through the minors proved his mettle as a hitter. But he was always known as a guy with a solid above-average hit tool and question marks on defense, and his performance in the minors blew away those expectations, thus landing high prospect rankings.
Yelich began his full-season career in Low-A Greensboro, where he hit an impressive .312/.388/.484 (.393 wOBA, 140 wRC+). He continued mashing with increased power the following season, batting .330/.404/.519 (.419 wOBA, 162 wRC+) in High-A Jupiter. But what set him apart as a prospect was the change from a lanky first base prospect who had questionable power to an athletic outfielder with speed and the ability to potentially cover center field. Miami shifted him to left field in 2012 and he held his own and showed flashes of center field play. He improved his throwing mechanics to better handle the outfield as well. On the bases, he was surprisingly successful, stealing 52 bases on 63 attempts in those two seasons.
Miami wasted little time getting him to the majors. After a decent half-season in Double-A Jacksonville in 2013, during which he hit .280/.365/.518 (.396 wOBA, 154 wRC+), Miami snagged him up brought him to the big leagues. He had no problems there either, hitting .288/.370/.396 (.341 wOBA) from July on and starting in left field for the 2013 Fish regularly. In 2014, Yelich handily won the starting job and hit the ground running, compiling a 17-game hitting streak and pumping up his power en route to a .273/.347/.429 (.343 wOBA) batting line.
Yelich was one of the most highly-touted Marlins prospects of the last few years, holding the team's top spot after the 2012 season. He has not disappointed while being promoted at an acceptable level, and he looks poised to be a major contributor to the next competitive Marlins team.
Second Round: Rob Rasmussen
Drafted: Second round, 73rd overall
Current Level: Triple-A, Buffalo (Toronto Blue Jays)
Minor League Ball Highest Ranking: 6th on team (2011)
Rob Rasmussen is a lefty starter with a track record of success out of a prestigious school in UCLA who was picked up by the then-Florida Marlins in the second round of the 2010 draft. He was immediately sent to Low-A Greensboro, where he saw some limited success and was promoted to High-A Jupiter the following year. However, in each of the next two seasons, Rasmussen struggled with control and merely acceptable strikeout rates, leading to ERAs and FIPs in the high-3.00's and low-4.00's each year. In the middle of the 2012 season, he was traded as part of the deal that netted Carlos Lee for Miami.
The Houston Astros sent him to Double-A, where he found some success, but since then he has bounced around and been a part of various trades. He is currently working at the Triple-A level in the Blue Jays organization.
Third Round: J.T. Realmuto
Drafted: Third round, 104th overall
School: Carl Albert High School (Midwest City, OK)
Current Level: Double-A, Jacksonville (Miami Marlins)
Minor League Ball Highest Ranking: 4th (2012)
Jacob Realmuto was drafted originally as a shortstop, but with the Marlins in need of catching depth and seeing potential in his game behind the plate, the club immediately switched him to the backstop. Initially, he profiled as a player who could hit better than expected for a catcher but would struggle defensively learning a new position. The bat did show up in 2011, when he hit .284/.345/.451 (.359 wOBA, 119 wRC+) in Low-A Greensboro to start his career. The impressive debut led to a top prospect ranking, but it was doubly impressive because of his rapidly improving defense behind the plate.
In 2012, however, things began turning in the opposite direction. Realmuto became a polished defender behind the plate, having thrown out 36 percent of would-be basestealers after catching an astonishing 42 percent the previous year. He was adept at blocking and was athletic behind the plate. It was at the plate where he began struggling, and the struggles continued into 2013. He hit .239/.310/.353 with almost identical numbers compared to the league in 2012 in High-A and 2013 in Jacksonville.
In 2014, he was asked to repeat Jacksonville and, so far, he has gotten off to a fast start. He is currently batting .306/.378/.514 (.402 wOBA, 153 wRC+) in 127 plate appearances, and if he can keep up the offensive firepower, he should have the chops to serve as the team's next catcher past Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Other Notable Players
Mark Canha was drafted in the seventh round in 2010 and is the Marlins' top first base prospect, and after a disappointing 2012 season in High-A Jupiter in which he hit just six home runs, he bounced back to deliver a solid .273/.371/.449 (.378 wOBA, 141 wRC+) season in Double-A Jacksonville. He is holding his own in Triple-A right now and might get an outside chance at first base and the outfield as a bench player for Miami in the next year.
Grant Dayton was drafted in the 11th round out of Auburn and is one of a number of relief prospects with impressive numbers in the minors. Dayton posted a 2.37 ERA and 2.36 FIP with a monster 35 percent strikeout rate in 2013, and his numbers prior to that Double-A performance have been similarly dominant. He spent 16 1/3 innings in Double-A again in 2013 before Miami realized he was ready for a different challenge and promoted him following a 1.10 ERA and 1.60 FIP.