The Miami Marlins spent their offseason with the distinct goal of replenishing their ravaged farm system in mind. In the eyes of most folks, it seems to have worked, as many outlets have ranked the Miami Marlins' system fairly well, as noted in their representation in top-100 prospects lists. Earlier this year, MLB.com released their top 100 prospects, and the Marlins placed six players on the list. John Sickels of SB Nation's Minor League Ball released his organizational rankings and placed the Marlins as the eighth-best minor league system in baseball this year. All signs seemed to be pointing at the Marlins doing a good job of reloading their talent pool.
Baseball America recently released their top 100 prospects list as well, and it only confirmed what other sources have already mentioned: the Marlins indeed did an excellent job, as they placed six players in the top 100 for Baseball America as well.
5. Jose Fernandez, rhp, MIA
15. Christian Yelich, of, MIA
43. Andrew Heaney, lhp, MIA
64. Jake Marisnick, of, MIA
75. Marcell Ozuna, of, MIA
86. Justin Nicolino, lhp, MIA
There are a number of good things about this list of top Marlins prospects. First off, it agrees decently with Fish Stripes's very own top 20 prospects list, which has the order of just one of these players switched. The prospect mavens here at Fish Stripes are firm believers of Marisnick, or at least when it comes to comparing him versus 2012 first-round draft pick Andrew Heaney. Given the relative hype of Marisnick as a "five-tool prospect" and Heaney as a "safe pick" in 2012 draft, this is an understandable choice. Tack on the fact that Heaney is a pitcher with only 27 innings of major league experience and you can see why our crew went with Marisnick over the promising Oklahoman.
Baseball America disagrees, placing Heaney significantly further ahead than Marisnick, but still ranking Marisnick decently high on their list. In comparison, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo had both players lower than their respective spots, but still ranked Marisnick (70) higher than Heaney (81). On Heaney's side of the argument is his college pedigree and high draft pick status combined with his supposedly polished game. I, for one, prefer to see more than 27 innings before making such a determination on a pitcher, even a college-trained one.
The other argument for Heaney is that Marisnick is simply worse given his performance as a professional thus far, and it may be an argument that Sickels has. In his response to the Baseball America list, he penned this observation regarding Marisnick.
***Jake Marisnick of the Marlins is ranked aggressively at 64. They buy into his tools strongly and don't seem to be as worried about his hitting troubles against better pitching as much as I am.
***The rankings of Williams, Marisnick, and Lee in particular show how BA is weighting defense in their rankings.
I presume this means that Sickels believes that defense is being weighted more heavily by Baseball America than in rankings more based on objective, statistical findings. If this is the case, I think it is an appropriate additional angle and opinion to see in the world of prospect mongering. Having said that, Marisnick does have many questions to be answered, as Conor Dorney pointed out in the last installment of our top 20 prospects series.
The other interesting thing to point out is that, despite all the trading that occurred with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Marlins' top prospects remain primarily homegrown talents. Marisnick and Justin Nicolino came from the Blue Jays trade, but the four remaining names were drafted or originally signed by the Fish. Of course, seeing Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich near the top of the list was no surprise, as those two are set to carry the Marlins into the future. But the representation by Heaney and Marcell Ozuna is a big step up from last season, when only Yelich made the top-100 cut and it seemed as though the Fish were deeply lacking in depth. Now the Marlins can boast that they developed important names like Ozuna into potentially quality players.
Given the players present on this list, the level to watch for next season is going to be Double-A Jacksonville. The Suns are going to be loaded with future Marlins talent, as their outfield consists of top-100 prospects and their pitching staff is anchored by one of the top three pitching prospects in the game. Fernandez appears ready to be a stud starter, and the outfield of Yelich, Marisnick, and Ozuna is expected to hammer out hits and homers while snagging plenty of balls in the outfield with their significant range. In addition, there is an outside chance Heaney may move up the ladder quickly in 2013 and end up in Double-A by season's end as well.
Times may be rough on the major league team for the Marlins organization, but the minors is where a lot of the interesting action is occurring right in 2013. Things are looking up for the youngest of Fish.