The rumor is that the Philadelphia Phillies are scouting the Miami Marlins’ rookie-ball affiliates to see if there are any players of interest to trade for less than half a year of starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, in whom the Marlins have interest. Hellickson has been solid this season after years of struggling; despite pitching in a very hitter-friendly environment, he is putting up a 3.86 ERA and 4.21 FIP that are seven percent better than league average and exactly average for MLB this season respectively. The Marlins have exactly two starting pitchers who can currently boast numbers of that caliber or better in their rotation, so if Hellickson can continue that kind of performance, he could be an innings-eater to replace one of the ineffective final pitching spots in the rotation.
The advantage of Hellickson would be that he would come cheap, and you can already see that it will not cost Miami much to acquire a guy who has been somehow league average this year after years of struggles. The Phillies are not scouting the high minors, and the fact that they are perusing rookie ball levels in particular points to this costing Miami a fringy prospect. That is exactly what Hellickson should cost: a lottery ticket C-ranked player who is a relative unknown. Which Marlins players meet those qualifications? Here are some names that the Phillies could look at for Hellickson, taken strictly off of the team’s rookie ball and short-season ball systems.
Jordan Holloway, RHP
Holloway was a ranked prospect for the thin Marlins system heading into this year, but his performance in the New York-Penn League has been disappointing thus far. He pitched only 17 1/3 innings at the level with high strikeout and walk totals, but he is the kind of raw, toolsy talent you can take a bet on in these sorts of trades. He throws a hard low- to mid-90’s fastball and has a nice curveball to complement it. He has no reliable third pitch and still has major command/control problems, so he is strictly an upside selection for an acquiring team. FanGraphs ranked him 10th in the organization, and he ranked 11th in our preseason consensus rankings. Minor League Ball rated him as a C prospect.
Humberto Mejia, RHP
Mejia was an international signing for the Marlins in 2013 who excelled in a stint in the Dominican Summer League in 2015. This year, he was promoted from the developmental camps to professional ball, starting off in rookie ball. He quickly excelled there, putting up a 2.45 ERA and 2.75 FIP in just 18 1/3 innings. He pitched well enough at age 19 to earn a promotion to short-season ball in the New York-Penn League. Not a whole lot is known about Mejia other than his numbers, but as long as he pitches well at levels with players much older than him, he will climb up the ranks slowly. If he continues at this pace, he figures to get a look at Low-A ball next year, whether in Miami or elsewhere.
Isiah White, OF
White was the team’s 10th-ranked prospect in our consensus rankings, as the outfielder displayed a speedy, toolsy game that was still undeveloped by the end of last season. He had a good campaign in rookie ball, hitting .294/.321/.381 (.338 wOBA) that was 11 percent better than league average at 18 years old. However, he did this with an awful approach at the plate, having struck out 30.2 percent of the time with only three walks in 132 plate appearances. White’s best tool is his speed, but he also apparently has power potential going forward, though he has yet to show that in the results. His game needs a lot of refinement, but he is another high-ceiling position player with a significant chance of busting in Miami’s low minors system.
The Marlins have promoted a few of their more promising low-minors names up to Low-A Greensboro, leaving a lot of 2016 draftees and struggling stragglers in the lower ranks. Isael Soto has performed decently in the corner outfield for Low-A Greensboro, and he is still flashing a little bit of his left-handed power potential. Cody Poteet has 19 starts in Greensboro with decent numbers, as he owns a 2.95 ERA and 3.65 FIP with a respectable 21.5 percent strikeout rate in his first taste of full-season ball. Left-hander Brett Lilek is bombing in Greensboro with a 5.06 ERA and more walks than strikeouts.
The Fish do not have a lot of rookie ball intriguing players who are either playing well this year or have good pedigrees attached to their names. If the Phillies want better quality, they should look at the Low-A Greensboro roster that was stacked with the team’s best talent from the low minors last year. Some of those guys may not be idea for Miami to give up, but it may be a necessary cost to acquire an improvement in the fifth rotation spot.