In the latest Fish Bites, I briefly touched on the returns of Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich to the Jacksonville Suns, Miami's Double-A affiliate. These two great prospects and Jake Marisnick are looked at as the potential building blocks for this team's offensive future the same way Jose Fernandez, Andrew Heaney, and even Justin Nicolino will be called upon to take control of the pitching staff as we move past 2013 and even 2014.
It was basically set in stone for the Marlins to have a rough season in 2013 because of the fact that they're in the early stages of rebuilding after trading away a majority of their big league talent this past fall. The problem with this is the fact that besides Fernandez, most of these young prospects are still in their beginning stages of their professional baseball careers and won't be ready for the big leagues for another two to three years. That and Jeffrey Loria's streak of bad decisions is probably why most long-term Marlins fans appear to alienated about the direction of the team despite the group of talented young prospects. In my eyes, that core of outfield prospects (Ozuna, Yelich and Marisnick) are the most intriguing to me not because of their potential but for the simple fact that we haven't seen a core of prospect like these three.
According to multiple baseball publications like Baseball America, Christian Yelich is looked at as the best pure hitter not only in the Marlins farm system but perhaps in all of minor league baseball. The 21-year-old Yelich has been slated to be ready for the big leagues in 2014 or 2015 but an extremely strong showing in spring training (four home runs, .359 batting average and 1.251 OPS) put the Marlins in a tough position because of the simple fact that he was the strongest player in their big league camp. It's probably the best idea to take a safe approach with a player who can be so special at the plate but I would personally be a little sad and disappointed if we don't see Yelich at the big league level during the September call-ups.
Jake Marisnick is one of the newest members of the Marlins organization after being a member of that blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays. Marisnick is the prototypical five-tool prospect who has the potential to be a valuable piece at the center field position when he gets called up. On offense, Jake is a solid contact hitter despite having his difficulties in Double-A last season while he was still a member of the Blue Jays. He also has a very swift and quick swing which gives him some power potential because of his large 6'4, 200 pound frame. With that said, he's a terrific athlete who was listed as Miami's best defensive outfield prospect when Baseball America ranked their top 10 prospects this past winter.
Last but not least, we have the power-hitting Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna is a talented outfielder with potential to be a solid basestealer, but he'll make his climb through the farm system because of his ability to put the ball in the seats. Marcell has hit 20-plus home runs in each season since 2010 when he flew up the prospect rankings. Despite that, Ozuna has a lot of issues with bat control and pitch recognition which lead to 116 strikeouts last year in Jupiter which might be a problem as he faces tougher competition in Double-A Jacksonville.
These young core of players are a group that could be extremely special but there's always that "what if" factor that comes with most prospects. There is uncertainty that comes with each of these guys as they progress as players which is common with prospects especially when the Marlins organization is relying on them to bring them into a new era. It's unlikely that we'll see them play in a Marlins uniform but their numbers may be called upon if the team does decide to cut ties with Giancarlo Stanton which could be a possibility in the winter.