If new President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill and the Miami Marlins have learned one thing this spring, it is that they have an abundance of talented young arms to fill the starting rotation and bullpen with. As it has been in the past, Miami's ability to develop the talent will determine future success.
But according to a Miami Herald report quoting anonymous veteran major league scouts, if the Marlins take the initiative and utilize their talent the correct way, they could have key components whose abilities can surpass those of players on Atlanta's active roster.
"They have some of the better young starters in baseball and a decent bullpen," one said. "Their pitching is better than Atlanta’s."
Said another: "Their team is better than the Phillies and Mets. Their pitching is very deep, and they have a power staff. All high quality starters."
And another said: "I like their team. There’s a lot more positive energy now. I think they can get to .500 and maybe [better] because Philadelphia and New York are in disarray."
Attention centered around starting pitchers is nothing new for the Marlins. Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jacob Turner all made anticipated starts in Miami uniforms last season. The first statement suggesting that the Marlins have better pitching than Atlanta first seems simply incorrect. But considering the 2013 offensive struggles and the late debuts of Fernandez, Eovaldi, Turner, and Henderson Alvarez, it could very well be true.
Heading into the season, Washington and Atlanta are expected to be the division's most productive teams. And with the injury to New York ace Matt Harvey and the increasing age of Philadelphia's lineup, Miami should, at the very least, compete for the three spot in the standings.
Turner's inability to throw strikes cost him an early rotation spot last year, and because he is out of options, there has been some speculation as to if Miami would consider trading him. Should they feel the need to do so, lefty Brad Hand and Tom Koehler are both viable candidates. The same scouts called him "already a number four starter," and after a 4.41 ERA last year and a solid spring during which he has given up one run in 12 innings, he has put himself in a favorable position.
Left-handed prospects Andrew Heaney and Adam Conley were both sent to minor league camp early, however there is reportedly internal optimism within the organization regarding two of the team's top arms. Moving forward, a balanced rotation will likely help the Marlins in a division featuring the lefty power bats of Bryce Harper and Freddie Friedman.
Scouts have been "impressed with the amount of good arms [the Marlins] have coming," and it is up to the organization to handle each situation the proper way. Should the young arms get an adequate amount of minor league time and experience, Miami will have one of the National League's most efficient rotations in the years to come.