The Miami Marlins will have a plan prepared for finding the club's next young stars in the 2015 MLB Draft, which begins on Monday, June 8. The team could use the fresh infusion of talent; trades and disappointing performance from short-term acquisitions have left the Marlins' roster in a unique situation where their depth is light in the minors but the majors still need significant assistance. The Fish have to find talent near the top of the draft, and it starts with the 12th pick of the first round.
Where are the Marlins set, and where do they need the most help? What follows is a quick assessment of each position for the Fish, combining current Major League options and minor league depth in a combined grade. Keep in mind that this is looking at long-term position outlook rather than a short-term situation. A grade of "C" may be considered mediocre current and/or future options available.
The Marlins have a catcher of the present and are hoping a recent early draft pick represents a future option. The team likes J.T. Realmuto for his athleticism and defensive skill behind the plate and clearly felt his bat was ready to play in the bigs. One month and change into his big league career and things have not popped up so well. More importantly, Realmuto has a checkered prospect past, having only recently been ranked in the top 100 in certain prospect lists this past year. He still provides the team an adequate future at the position, but it is too early to tell how good that future is.
The team drafted Blake Anderson as a sandwich pick last season out of high school in part due to his athleticism, but so far that pick has been light on production at the plate. Anderson is still very raw, so there is little concern right now.
First Base: C
Justin Bour has been excellent in a short time period so far, and the power he displayed last month was a welcome sight. However, he just turned 27 years old and may be approaching his peak performance and he just broke into the majors on a full-time basis. Combine that with a sky-high BABIP early and we definitely do not know enough about him to label him a future piece. Michael Morse is here for as long as his contract allows, and he is on the wrong side of 30 years of age and unlikely to stick around beyond his agreement, especially if he continues to play poorly.
Viosergy Rosa is the highest-rated first baseman in the minors now for the Fish, and he has struggled in Double-A in a more full-time role.
Second Base: B
The Marlins, for better or worse, are stuck with Dee Gordon at second base. For now, it has been all "better," as Gordon is still extending his pretty hot start, though it has cooled considerably since April. With four years left of team control and great play early on in 2015, it may not matter what kind of depth Miami has at the position.
However, it does have some depth in the form of fourth-ranked prospect Avery Romero. Romero finally ran into a spot where he has struggled, as his full-time shot at High-A Jupiter has gotten off slowly (.277/.329/.319, 99 wRC+). Mason Davis, another interesting player drafted last season, has gotten off to a similarly slow start.
Third Base: C-
The Marlins have precious little depth at third base as well, as the team's current Major League option, Martin Prado, is 31 years old and only under contract through next season. The Fish boast a few names in the minors, most notably Brian Anderson and Derek Dietrich, but while both are intriguing players, they have many questions surrounding their future. No one knows what position Dietrich can play effectively in the majors, and his bat has only mildly translated to the big leagues in limited time. Anderson is in High-A coming out of the University of Arkansas, but he has not repeated his early success.
The Marlins essentially have no shortstop options beyond Adeiny Hechavarria, who himself has only recently showed enough improvement to be close to Major League quality. If his defensive performance sticks, a .280 wOBA would be worth a one-win player, which would be acceptable but still below average. Meanwhile, Romero and Dietrich are among the players in the minors who have worked at shortstop but are more likely to be second basemen or third basemen going forward. The Fish drafted raw athletes in Justin Twine last year and Justin Bohn a few years ago, but there is little buzz behind either player.
The outfield could not be in a better situation right now. The Marlins have signed Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term extension and have Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich available to contribute for years to come. Yelich is signed to an extension as well, and while he is struggling in 2015, the Fish should be confident a recovery is on its way. The team's minor league depth at the position, with players like Isael Soto and Austin Dean are just icing.
Starting Pitching: B-
The Marlins have a B- ranking in this in part only because of the presence of Jose Fernandez, who makes for a near-guaranteed ace for another three and a half years at least if he returns healthy. Beyond that, there is not a lot of guarantees. Trades have depleted the team's depth and left it with Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino as potential starters in the near future, both of whom have serious questions. Jarred Cosart remains under significant team control, but he has yet to fully figure out his game yet.
Deep in the minors, Tyler Kolek looms as the important major project on the roster. The team's top prospect has simply been working on different things in the low minors, but the numbers so far are not pretty. The team has time to work on him, but their current overall crop is light on high-ceiling guys beyond Kolek, and the floors for the players are not particularly high either.