The Miami Marlins may be short of true prospect talent, but they still have a few interesting names in their system. Two of those names earned Player of the Month honors in Double-A for the month of July. Starting pitcher Jose Urena earned Minor League Pitcher of the Month, while Austin Barnes earned Player of the Month honors with a monster batting campaign.
Urena had a nice solid campaign this past month, posting a 2.21 ERA and a 22.0 percent strikeout rate that represents his best single-month mark all season. Indeed, his last two months have been strong, as a whopping 62 of his season's 107 strikeouts have come in June and July. His 22.1 percent strikeout rate in those two months is indicative of improvement in the whiff department, which is the one area where Urena has traditionally struggled. In the past, he has averaged mediocre strikeout numbers, but it seems he is getting used to Double-A and beginning to make his mark on the level. Expect a Triple-A look next season and a chance at the rotation in Spring Training.
Barnes had a down year last season playing in High-A Jupiter, but he raked in 74 plate appearances in Double-A, and he just continued to rake after repeating High-A and moving back up to Jacksonville midseason. He hit .317/.385/.417 (.372 wOBA) in High-A, redeeming himself for last year, and he continued dominating in Double-A. Barnes hit .330/.438/.540 in July, including 19 walks versus just 14 strikeouts and five of his seven homers in Double-A. He is continuing to show improved power, as he's powered through two more homers in the opening days of August as well. Overall, Barnes has seven homers and a .289/.406/.456 (.396 wOBA) batting line in Double-A, which is good for 47 percent better than the league average.
Both players figure to be better ranked in the Marlins organization before 2015. Fish Stripes had Urena ranked sixth in the team's top 20 prospects, and he figures to jump a few spots to near the top three after players were dealt and Andrew Heaney receives his inevitable promotion to the big leagues full time. Urena figures to probably the team's next best pitching prospect behind Heaney and ahead of guys like Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino.
Meanwhile, Barnes figures to jump up the charts as well. The catcher / middle infielder was ranked 13th before this season in our top 20, and that will change into a top-ten ranking this year. His power shown in Double-A is promising, and Miami has to be happy about seeing him handle the catcher position while still hitting impressively. We pegged him for a breakout some time back, and it seems he is delivering with perfect patient and plate discipline and improving contact and power. It is uncertain if Barnes has leapfrogged J.T. Realmuto, who had a strong Triple-A season before an injury derailed him, but his spot in the top ten Marlins prospects seems assured. It seems unlikely Miami would ever return him to second base, since his value is best at catcher, but the team could use a middle infielder for additional depth with their complete lack of infield prospects.