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Chances of Miami Marlins prospects making Opening Day roster

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Eight Marlins prospects will be present at Spring Training. What are the chances these guys make the 2016 Opening Day roster?

Jarlin Garcia is a top Marlins prospect who will get a Spring Training look.
Jarlin Garcia is a top Marlins prospect who will get a Spring Training look.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins' farm system is depleted after several events in the last three to four years, leaving the team high and dry in terms of immediate talent help. That does not mean the club will not consider a few names who have not made a Major League mark for the big league roster by the time Opening Day 2016 rolls around. MLB.com highlighted eight prospect names to look at in Spring Training, but we will discuss their odds of making the roster.

Jarlin Garcia

Garcia is one of the team's top five prospects by most accounts. The 23-year-old right-hander just finished a solid season in High-A Jupiter, putting up a 3.06 ERA and 3.05 FIP in 97 innings before moving to a seven-start stint in Double-A. Garcia has a decent arm with low- to mid-90's velocity, but he may have some questions on command and an insufficiently useful secondary set of offerings. He also has not pitched a whole lot in the higher minors, and when he did throw in Double-A, his 4.91 ERA and 4.20 FIP did not impress.

Miami does need starters, but it stocked up on low cost options like veteran Edwin Jackson, who might compete for that fifth starter spot, and potential higher-minors prospects like Adam Conley, Justin Nicolino, and Jose Urena. You have to suspect those guys will get a chance before Garcia.

Chance at Opening Day roster: <1 percent

Kendry Flores

Flores is one of those higher minors options like the aforementioned three pitchers, and he may have a better shot at the roster, but not as a starter. If Miami still wants to fill out the seventh inning role and find another long reliever, Flores could certainly fit those departments after working both bullpen and starter roles in the minors before. Flores served decently in 58 Triple-A innings last year, so he may be able to work at the big league level despite obviously middling stuff. At the same time, that stuff and heady pitching may not work as well out of the bullpen, where guys should be more full effort and less crafty from the right side.

Chance at Opening Day roster: 15 percent

Tomas Telis

Telis should be making the 2016 Opening Day roster, and he would be J.T. Realmuto's primary backup catcher if I were running the organization. The 24-year-old Telis has spent seven years in the minors since arriving in rookie ball in 2009, and he has slowly made his way towards the edge of the bigs. He is a solid defender behind the plate and has been a high-contact, low-power hitter throughout his minor league career, making him an ideal-appearing backup catcher. However, the Marlins signed Jeff Mathis back onto the team to do that job, so Telis's odds of finding a roster spot without an injury are slim.

Chance at Opening Day roster: <1 percent

Nick Wittgren

Wittgren is no impressive prospect despite his standout relief numbers in the minors. He has been on the radar for Marlins fans for the past two years after a stellar High-A showing; in 2013, he put up a 27.6 percent strikeout rate and a 0.83 ERA and 1.97 FIP. Why is he not near the top of the Marlins' ugly prospect list? Wittgren is not a hard-throwing relief prospect who might close in the future, even with his save numbers in the minors. Unfortunately, he is actually a low-90's right-hander with two other breaking balls who depends a lot more on throwing strikes than striking out guys. That showed when he transitioned to the high minors and saw his numbers dip; his Double-A performance in 2014 was a far cry from that eye-catching 2013 example. He looked better in terms of strikeouts n 2015, and he maintained a strong 3.2 percent walk rate as well, but he is still a fringy arm behind a few other fringy prospect names with better cannons.

Chance at Opening Day roster: 10 percent

J.T. Riddle

Riddle was a 13th-round draft pick out of University of Kentucky in 2013, but he rose up the ranks quickly. One would expect this out of a college prospect, but not perhaps a 13th-rounder with limited shot at the big leagues. Thanks to a good 2014 season in which he hit .280/.323/.400 (101 wRC+) in Low-A Greensboro while splitting time at shortstop and third base, the Marlins have kept a closer eye on his development. They kept him at shortstop to see if he can handle the position long-term, as that kind of bat at short would be far more acceptable than at second or third base. He did not start his 2015 season in High-A Jupiter well, but was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville and had improved numbers (109 wRC+).

Riddle may get a Major League look within the next two years if he continues to hit well in the upper minors, but this year the infield is set.

Chance at Opening Day roster: <1 percent

Austin Brice

Brice's development has been a serious disappointment after so much initial promise in his first few years. He may be tagged shortly for a permanent demotion to the bullpen, but either way, his performance in Double-A last year (4.67 ERA, 4.36 FIP) bought him a repeat stint in Jacksonville.

Chance at Opening Day roster: <1 percent

Brian Ellington

Ellington is closer to the majors than Wittgren despite not having proven himself in Triple-A yet. The 2012 16th-round draft pick out of University of West Florida was trialed in Double-A last season despite unimpressive work in High-A the year before, but he excelled in Jacksonville with a 2.51 ERA and 2.09 FIP and a 27.8 percent strikeout rate and 7.7 percent walk rate. More importantly, unlike Wittgren, his stuff is hard, with a mid-90's fastball that touches 98 and a hard slider. That kind of repertoire usually buys you a chance earlier than soft-tossing strike-throwers because it plays better in the bigs.

Ellington pitched with mediocre results in 2015 in the bigs, so his name is ahead on the list for a seventh inning job.

Chance at Opening Day roster: 60 percent

Nefi Ogando

Ogando was acquired off of waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies this past offseason. This was a good free pickup for the Marlins, as Ogando adds typical relief depth to the organization. Ogando is essentially Ellington with less proven command and control ability, so he is definitely behind some of the other prospect names.

Chance at Opening Day roster: <1 percent