The Miami Marlins own one of the worst farm systems in baseball for a variety of reasons previously detailed. The team has neither top-end talent ready for the big leagues now nor do they have a lot of simmering talent in the low minors set to blow the roof off of Marlins Park in three years. The team's various moves have left them without first round picks from 2012 and 2013, and their latest first-rounders have either been questionable so far (Tyler Kolek) or were question marks from the start (Josh Naylor).
Nevertheless, the team does have prospects, and some of them are in various stages of development. Throughout this month, we will highlight a select few prospects for evaluation, but first we will go over the team's top 20 prospects. Using the wisdom of not one, but five different prospect evaluation systems (Baseball Prospectus, SB Nation's Minor League Ball, MLB.com, Baseball America, and FanGraphs), we put together the consensus top 20 prospect rankings for the Marlins in 2016. This provides us a list of names in order by using a wisdom of the crowds approach, which is much more likely to be correct.
Note that FanGraphs, MLB.com, and Minor League Ball provided a list down to 20 players. Baseball America provided only ten names, with the remaining list on their Prospect Handbook (payment required but recommended). Baseball Prospectus listed 15 names total, the top ten of which were ranked. For players not ranked on BA's list, we used an average of 20. For those not ranked on BP, we used an average of 20. For the five beyond the top ten for BP's list, we used an average of 13.5.
*SBN = Minor League Ball
The list is not surprising at the top. The Marlins' two most ready pitchers who can still classify as prospects are ranked near the top, with Jarlin Garcia and Kendry Flores both expected to pitch in Triple-A in 2016 with an outside shot at the majors. The team's three high-upside names fill out the rest of the top five, with the near-consensus that 2014 first-rounder Tyler Kolek belongs first. In most of the commentary, there is strong discussion of Kolek's obvious strengths, most notably his pedigree as a former top pick with high-ceiling upside and his blazing fastball. There is also a lot of talk about his lack of control and command over his secondary offerings, leading to huge walk rates. There seems like a very good chance that, if Kolek struggles again in 2016, his standing on this list will fall fast.
The team's 2015 first-rounder Josh Naylor gets the second spot by default. He did hit well in 2015 in limited time in rookie ball, but he did not flash the power that the team is expecting from a hulking first baseman with no shot at another position. Stone Garrett is the team's last position player of high upside. Unlike the other two, Garrett posted a dominant season in 2015, but there are still lots of questions about his swing and if his strikeout-riddled approach will succeed as he climbs levels.
Beyond those five names, things get a little murkier. Righty outfielder Austin Dean has the most consistent set of rankings across the board, but he appears to have a low upside as a contact-based tweener outfielder. Brent Lilek went unranked in Baseball America's top ten, though there was an assurance that he at least made the top 30 of the system. The rest of the systems like his polished college game, but he will have to show up at higher levels. Brian Anderson struggled last season after a promising start out of college in 2014, but he remains a decent player who is probably the best middle infielder left in the organization. Isael Soto and Isiah White are nearly identically ranked and fill out the bottom of the top ten; both guys are limited by contact issues so far, but they are young and have a shot at developing their plus tools (speed for White and power for Soto) in the outfield corners.
The rest of these guys were listed in various amounts by the systems above. Anyone listed in at least three rankings was placed.
This setup shows the lack of depth the Marlins have in their farm system. A couple of players who were strays into random top ten's ended up ranking significantly here, with Chris Paddack notably being ranked second by FanGraphs. Nick Wittgren has a shot at the bullpen in 2016, but he is limited in bullpen upside. J.T. Riddle may be a future utility man, but he has hit decently and played shortstop in the minors, so he has a small chance at the bigs as a starter. The remaining players here of note are upside high-schoolers like Jordan Holloway and Cody Poteet who might develop but are otherwise nondescript right now.
What do you guys think of the consensus top 20 rankings? What are your thoughts on the top five? Let us know in the comments!