Last season, the Marlins strength in their farm system was outfielders. This year, it has switched to a fantastic group of young pitchers. Led by top prospect Andrew Heaney, this years top prospect class could turn into one for the ages. Their is a ridicolous amount of talent from top to bottom and the majority of the players on this list are only 1-2 years away from the Majors. Similar to last year, the Fish Stripes prospect staff consisting of Eric Weston, Michael Jong, and I have come up with what we consider the Marlins 20 best prospects. In the following weeks, expect to see much more content from Fish Stripes expanding on this list by going in-depth on these prospects. Without further ado, here are your 2014 Fish Stripes Top 20 Miami Marlins prospects.
1. Andrew Heaney, LHP
Words and phrases that always pop up when referring to Marlins 2012 first round pick Andrew Heaney usually include: pitchability, repeatable delivery, poise, polish, easy delivery, great feel, and consistency. Andrew Heaney is a 22-year-old lefty who spent the 2013 season dominating High Class-A and Double-A. Heaney has the potential to be a #3, maybe even a #2 starter in the Majors in the coming years. With a fastball, changeup, and solider that all are still improving but already Major League pitches, Heaney could be in Miami to start the season. A rotation featuring Heaney, Jose Fernandez, and all of the pitcher mentioned below would be nasty. Andrew Heaney is going to develop into a superstar in Miami and it's going to happen before you know it.
2. Jake Marisnick, OF
Jake Marisnick, 22, is the Marlins top outfield prospect. Last season, with Marisnick, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna leading the bunch the Marlins had perhaps the finest trio of outfield prospects in the game. Now, Marisnick is the only one remaining with rookie eligibility. Marisnick was great to start off 2013. He outperformed Christian Yelich on a Double-A Jacksonville team where Yelich got the most attention, and Marisnick earned his promotion to the Majors in late July. However, after arriving in Miami, Marisnick never got going at the plate. Maybe it was his knee, which he just got surgery on and is almost 100%, which was holding him back or maybe it was just adjusting to the best pitching he'd ever seen. Marisnick still needs to make some changes at the plate, so he'll likely start off 2014 in Triple-A. I expect him to tear up the PCL, but he's so young that the longer he takes before his promotion the better. No matter what, just because Marisnick's 2013 stint in the Majors didn't go as planned doesn't mean that he doesn't have a very bright future still ahead of him.
3. Colin Moran, 3B
Colin Moran, 21, was the Marlins first-round pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft out of the University of North Carolina. Moran plays third base, where he has solid defense and hits for average. A very advanced hitter, Moran should have no problem breezing through the Minors. The biggest concern regarding Moran is his lack of power potential, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out this season. In a perfect world, Moran would make great strides in 2014, reach Double-A, and establish himself as the Marlins starter at the hot corner for 2015.
4. Justin Nicolino, LHP
Justin Nicolino, 21, came over in the Toronto trade involving Reyes and others in late 2012. Nicolino's fastball isn't that great of a pitch, but it looks much better with his excellent control that rivals any pitcher in the Minors. His changeup is his best pitch and his curve isn't all that bad as well. Nicolino should start 2014 back off with Double-A Jacksonville, where he will need to prove that his pitches will survive against advanced hitters. Overall, Nicolino is another type of pitcher that should get Marlins fans very excited about the future.
5. Adam Conley, LHP
Adam Conley, 23, was a reliever in college at Washington State, but when given the chance to start in the Minors, Conley took it and ran with it. With a FIP under 2.95 for the last three seasons, Conley has used his outstanding control and solid fastball/changeup combo to fly through the Minors. Not to mention, he's left-handed. If Conley continues to rise above his competition for his first few starts in New Orleans, he could be up in Miami by late June, early July.
6. Jose Urena, RHP
Jose Urena has also been trying to prove that he can make it as a starter ever since the Marlins have signed him. One would assume that two years of dominating his competition in Greensboro and Jupiter would earn him the title, but there is still doubt amongst many. Urena is another projectable pitcher, standing at a lanky 6'3'', that uses his arm speed to throw a fastball in the mid 90's. His changeup is another strong pitch for him, and that's the main reason he will stick as a starter. Urena should see his biggest test yet in 2014 pitching for Jacksonville, but as long as he can improve his slider, he should continue to stay away from the bullpen.
7. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
Anthony DeSclafani was the underrated prospect that came to Miami in the Toronto blockbuster. DeSclafani, 23, has great control and confidence in his pitches on the mound. He pairs a fastball in the low 90's with a promising slider and a sub-par change up. In 2013, he split time between Jupiter and Jacksonville, excelling in both places. I expect DeSclafani to start 2014 back in Jacksonville, but he should be up in New Orleans shortly thereafter.
8. Brian Flynn, RHP
Brian Flynn, 23, is a name that most Marlins fans are probably pretty familiar with. A 6'8'' 240 lb. lefty, Flynn could turn into a back of the rotation innings eater that could greatly help the Marlins in 2014. His fastball and his slider are both good pitches, but his curve and his change still need a lot of work. If Flynn can do his job and stay healthy, he'll be able to stick in the Marlins starting rotation for the entire 2014 season, an impressive feat considering the talented young pitchers knocking on the door to the Majors.
9. Brent Keys, OF
Brent Keys, 23, has come an extremely long ways since being drafted in the 17th round of the 2007 Draft. A left-handed hitting corner outfielder, Keys has little to no power, but he makes him for it with his unsurpassed in the Marlins system ability to get on-base. Keys hit .346 with a .418 OBP in over 400 at bat's in 2013 for High Class-A Jupiter. Despite those fantastic numbers, Keys would probably tell you that he had some slumps and he easily could have done even better. In 2014, Keys should get his biggest test yet at Double-A Jacksonville, but he's yet to be slowed done by something others thought he wouldn't be able to handle.
10. Avery Romero, 2B
Avery Romero, 20, is a second baseman that the Marlins went over slot to sign out of high school in the third round of the 2012 Draft. Romero, who played shortstop in the past, could be one of the better defensive second baseman in the Majors if he continues to work at it. Romero has one of the highest ceilings of all the position players in the Marlins system and I truly believe that if his bat develops at the rate most expect, Romero could go to two to three All-Star games in his career. His bat speed is extremely impressive and he's always more than enough power. However, I expect the Marlins to continue to treat Romero with care, as he is only 20, and keep him in Greensboro for at least half of the 2014 season.
11. Trevor Williams, RHP
Trevor Williams, 21, was drafted in the second round of the 2013 Amateur Draft out of Arizona State as a right-handed starting pitcher. He has a very projectable frame and impressive control over all of his pitches. Williams is yet another 2013 draftee that could zoom through the Minors and be helping the Marlins at the Major League level before you know it. Personally, I can't wait to see Williams develop as a pitcher in 2014 and I would not at all be surprised if he was in Jacksonville by the All-Star break.
12. J.T. Realmuto, C
J.T. Realmuto, 22, is an athletic catcher with power potential and the want to required to reach his potential. Realmuto refined his reputation behind the plate in 2013 at Jacksonville, but he had his second straight abysmal season hitting. If Realmuto can hit in 2013, likely back in Jacksonville, he could definitely be in Miami by the All-Star break just due to need. However, Realmuto is far from a finished product. He has a lot of work to do at the plate before he can become a viable option for any Major League team to pencil in their everyday lineup.
13. Austin Barnes, C/2B
It's once in a blue moon that you see a player that plays catcher and a middle infield position make it so far without becoming exclusive to one of the two positions. Austin Barnes, age 24, is a rare commodity. Standing at only 5'7'', Barnes has shown that his raw ability to hit for average and spray line drives will keep him in a lineup regardless of where he's playing defensively. One can only start to dream about what a N.L. team could do with a player of this versatility. For Barnes to reach his potential, he will need to keep hitting and not move completely away from either position.
14. Jesus Solorzano, OF
Jesus Solorzano, 23, is a Venezuelan outfielder that has both plus speed and power. In 2013, playing for Greensboro, Solorzano hit 15 homers and stole 33 bases. Solorzano would probably never hit for more than 15 homers in a season in the Majors, but a player that could hit around .275-.285 with 12-15 HR's and 20 stolen bases isn't a bad outfielder to have on your roster. Solorzano does have a tendency to swing at too many pitches and in order to become a more complete #2 hitter in a lineup he'll need to change that. Look for Solorzano to spend the majority of the 2014 season in Jupiter.
15. Colby Suggs, RHP
Colby Suggs, 22, was the Marlins second round pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft. A 6' 225 lb. frame doesn't give Suggs much room for projection but he'll make up for that with his upper 90's fastball and curveball that could one day be a plus pitch. He has drawn some Heath Bell comparisons and while I definitely don't think that's fair, he is built in a very similar way. Suggs should spend the entire 2014 season in the Minors unless the Marlins plethora of relievers in the upper minors dwindles down.
16. Arquimedes Caminero, RHP
It is a miracle that Arquimedes Caminero, 26, ever reached the Majors with the amount of costly surgeries he has had on his throwing arm and elbow. A 6'5'' filled out frame gives Caminero a menacing presence on the mound and his upper 90's fastball paired with his decent slider make him an ideal candidate to get innings late in ballgames. Considering his first dip in the Majors last season went well, I would expect Caminero to start the 2014 season back in the bigs. Hopefully, Caminero can stay on the mound and flourish into a pitcher that nobody ever looks forward to facing.
17. Angel Sanchez, RHP
Angel Sanchez, 24, is a right-handed starting pitcher who came over in the Ricky Nolasco trade with Los Angeles. Sanchez throws a good fastball that tops out in the mid 90's, as well as a developing changeup and a dreamy slider. Despite his age, Sanchez is pretty raw as a pitcher and he has a considerable amount of room to grow. It would probably be in both parties best interest if Sanchez spent the entire '14 season at Double-A Jacksonville.
18. Austin Brice, RHP
Austin Brice is the most inconsistent player on this list. It seems as if the Marlins are trying to fix numerous things about his delivery and release point, and that's probably why he hasn't gotten better results in Greensboro the last two seasons. Brice has a great frame and promising pitches but the Marlins have to be getting a little fed up with his lack of progress over the last two seasons. 2014 will be a huge season for Brice to prove or disprove whether or not he'll ever be able to tap into his deep potential.
19. Sam Dyson, RHP
Sam Dyson, age 25, is one of the few players on this list with Major League experience. The Marlins stole him off of the waiver wire from Toronto and he will likely start the year in the Majors. Dyson has three pitches that could all be average to above-average and his experience as a starter makes him a good candidate to be a long reliever type and emergency starter. It will be intriguing to see what Dyson can do when he gets his first extended taste of the Majors this season.
20. Nick Wittgren, RHP
Nabbing the final spot in this list is the 22-year-old right-handed reliever Nick Wittgren. Wittgren, the Marlins 9th round pick in the 2012 Amateur Draft out of Purdue, has been nothing but nasty in his two first seasons in the minors. Wittgren recorded 25 saves for High Class-A Jupiter in 2013, while posting a 0.83 ERA and striking out 9.77 per nine innnings. Wittgren throws a potent power curveball and his fastball sits in the low 90's. He will likely start out the year at Double-A and could potentially reach the Majors in 2014.
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