The Commissioner's office approved the massive twelve-player trade between the Miami Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays last week, forever altering the future of both franchises. The Marlins' farm system will receive a much needed infusion of talent, headlined by outfield prospect Jake Marisnick.
The Blue Jays drafted Marisnick in the third round of the 2009 Amateur Draft out of Poly High School in Riverside, California. He earned a cool $1,000,000 signing bonus thanks to his tremendous athleticism and projectable frame. The 6-foot-4 outfielder has frequently been described as a potential "five tool" talent. He plays fine defense in center field, throws the ball well, and features solid, if unspectacular power.
Marisnick began his professional career playing for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2010. He hit a respectable .287/.373/.459, earning a promotion to low Class-A after only 35 games. He struggled in the remaining 34 games, hitting only .220/.298/.339. Marisnick returned to the Midwest League in 2011, ultimately playing a full season for the Lansing Lugnuts. The result was a dramatically improved .320/.392/.496 slash line. He then graduated in 2012 to Dunedin, where he hit .263/.349/.451 in 65 games. Toronto again promoted him mid-season, this time to Double-A New Hampshire. The 21-year-old hit only .233/.286/.336 in his 55 games there. Totaled out, Marisnick possesses a career .787 minor league on-base plus slugging.
Marisnick projects as a solid regular in the future, though he holds even greater potential if his hitting mechanics improve. He has worked hard to eliminate inconsistencies in his complex swing, yet problems persist.
Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich remain the top talent in the Miami farm system, but Marisnick still fits comfortably into the second tier of prospects. Whereas I have yet to decide whether I prefer Andrew Heaney or Jake Marisnick, I can safely say that Marisnick is a stronger prospect than Marcell Ozuna. They are both athletic outfielders and talented hitters, but Marisnick is a year younger than Ozuna and performed just as well in the same league last year. His hit tool, while a question mark, is less of a concern than Ozuna's. He struck out in 18.0 percent of plate appearances in high Class-A, compared to Ozuna's 21.5 percent. Unlike Ozuna, I don't view Marisnick as an especially risky package. Even if his bat doesn't shine in the majors, he will be athletic enough to find a useful role.
Thanks in part to the acquisition of Marisnick, the Marlins minor league system has transformed itself in a little than a year from one of the worst farms in baseball to a decidedly average one. With the sixth selection in the upcoming Amateur Draft, the system is poised to improve even further.