8. Brian Flynn, LHP
Drafted: 2011, 7th round out of Wichita State University
Age: 23 Height: 6'7" Weight: 240 lbs.
Acquired in the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit, Brian Flynn surged through the Marlins minor league system in under two years, making his big league debut in September. At 6-foot-7, he carries a huge presence on the mound, delivering a reliable low-90s fastball that he can ramp up to 94 miles per hour.
The Marlins have sought to aggressively promote Flynn during his tenure with the organization. Their strategy has paid off thus far. The team bumped him to Double-A shortly after procuring him, where he posted a 3.80 ERA in 45 innings pitched. He improved upon this last year, cutting his ERA to 1.57 in just 23 innings pitched, before receiving another promotion to Triple-A. Flynn pitched well for Zephyrs, putting up 2.80 ERA in 138 innings pitched, with 122 strikeouts and just 40 walks.
When the front office eventually saw fit to test Flynn out in the majors last September, he encountered his first major bump in the road. Four disastrous starts resulted in 17 earned runs allowed in just 18 innings pitched. This effort does not dramatically affect his stock as a prospect, however. Flynn's tools and two years of minor league success bode a successful career at the back of the Marlins rotation. His value will come from his ability to consume a lot of innings without letting up. He pitched a combined 179 innings last season, suggesting tremendous durability for a 23-year-old pitcher.
Like the vast majority of prospects, Flynn is not without his faults. Despite continuing to refine his curveball and change-up, they don't project as more than average pitches. He relies primarily on his fastball and slider, which won't play as well in the majors. His control of his pitches can fluctuate at times - an unfortunate consequence of such long arms.
These flaws will likely prevent Flynn from achieving great notoriety in the majors, yet he stands above other prospects in the system because he can contribute in a substantive manner as early as this season. Reliable production today is more valuable than possible production two or three years from now. Countless prospects have looked great when drafted or a year into their professional career, only to stumble in high Class A or Double-A. Flynn overcame these challenges, demonstrating sufficient ability to succeed at some level in the majors. He may not generate a lot of excitement from the press or fans, but he should prove useful to the team.