Yes, it’s true - Baseball Prospectus and the rest of Major League Baseball have dubbed the Miami Marlins the second to last minor league system in the big leagues. But are they wrong? The Marlins did trade away their 2013 first round draft pick (fifth overall) in Colin Moran midway through the season last year to the Houston Astros for players named Jarred Cosart and Kike Hernandez - who has since been traded away again this off-season. Hernandez wasn’t the only youngster on the move though, as the Marlins continued to back up the moving truck, sending top pitching prospects Andrew Heaney to the Los Angeles Dodgers and righty Anthony Delscalfani to the Cincinnati Reds. The Marlins received just one high-ceiling prospect in return, major league doormat-ready reliever Kendry Flores from the Giants. If you combine those roster moves with the loss of mid-level catching prospects Austin Barnes and Chad Wallach, and then look at the Marlins aggressive approach to making minor league promotions, it’s easy to see why Baseball Prospectus and the baseball world in general see the Miami Marlins weak on the farm.
Given that everything I stated above is true, and you find yourself sitting there wondering what I’m going to say next, don’t be concerned. It’s my mission to doubt the doubters and dive deep into the Marlins organizational depth charts, in hopes of proving the nay-sayers wrong by finding hidden gems.
This week I will be diving into the Marlins depth at the catcher position. We already know that Salty will start behind the dish for the Marlins and Mathis will back him up while touted Marlins top prospect J.T Realmuto will play the waiting game. So let’s look at the best of the rest, because three catchers do not constitute a franchise.
Best of the Rest
Call me crazy, but I really like what Arturo brings to the Marlins organization. After signing a minor league contract this off-season, this 6’0" 235 lbs. Monterrey, Nueva Leon, Mexico native has the build and the bat to make an impact this season. At age 23, he is a long shot to raise through the Marlins prospect ranks, but he put up solid enough contact and power numbers in 2014 with the Toros de Tijuana and Sultanes de Monterrey teams of the Triple-A Mexican League to be ranked above Miami Marlins 2014 first-round CBA pick Blake Anderson.
In the 93 games played in the Mexican League, Arturo started 62 games behind the plate - throwing out forty percent of runners attempting to steal on his arm. He also had 15 starts at first base with a perfect fielding percentage. Not only does his bat show promise, so does his defensive abilities. This makes Arturo Rodriguez a strong candidate to watch in the Marlins minor league system this season.
As mentioned in the Arturo summary, Anderson was the 36th overall pick drafted in the first-round CBA by the Miami Marlins out of West Lauderdale HS in Collinsville, Mississippi. Fresh off his 19th birthday Anderson will look to improve his numbers from his first taste of pro ball.
Looking at his first year statistics at the plate it’s easy to see what scouts already know: he was drafted for his 6’4" tall frame, an absolute hose for an arm, and his strong glove hand framing pitches. We all know the fast track to the big leagues for prospect catchers is based on their defensive ability, and Anderson has plenty of ability. The thing to watch though this season will be the comfort and improvement Anderson shows as he handles the bat at the plate. As his body matures and produces more power in his bat we might just have a Baltimore Orioles Matt Wieters comparable player down the line.
Brad is a 6’3" 215 lbs. right-handed swinging 18th round draft pick of the Miami Marlins and the only one of the four catchers selected in the 2014 Amateur Draft to have collegiate experience. He played for San Diego State University and this should give him a leg up on the rest of his competition. After crushing the ball his first 30 games for the Batavia Muckdogs, he was quickly promoted up to Low-A Greensboro to end the season splitting time with another 2014 draft selection in catcher Chris Hoo. Take a look in at his stats from 2014:
It’s easy to see why Haynal could easily become a hidden gem for the Marlins. Even if he can’t hide behind his tall frame, Haynal offers advanced defensive abilities behind the plate that no one else in his draft class came in with, with the possible exception of Blake Anderson. It’s Haynals bat though that will carry him up the ranks. Already 23 years-old, he needs to accelerate his time frame to make adjustments at the minor league level if he hopes to crack the big league roster one day. He is defintely another solid candidate to watch out for this season.