The Fish of the future are not off to a hot start in 2017. Earlier this afternoon, John Sickels (of Down on the Farm fame and more recently of minorleagueball.com) released his Top 20 Prospects for the Marlins heading into the season. His projections highlight an issue that we all know is lurking in the farm system: The Marlins lack prospect depth.
It becomes an issue for any team when the best prospect is somebody who hasn’t even pitched in professional baseball yet. Yes, Braxton Garrett is exciting. He has clean mechanics and two average or better pitches in his fastball and curveball, which is promising for a 19 year old. However, even if his changeup develops, his stuff is still not currently ace material and his projection remains (for now) as a mid-rotation starter. He was graded a B-/B.
It really only gets worse from there. Number two is Brian Anderson is the only other guy who fringes on the B grade with a B-/C+ rating, and he is 23 with slightly above average offensive output in AA with doubles power and the looks of a future role player. Beyond that, it’s a sea of common prospects.
Sure, there are guys who have some tools. Isael Soto has plus pop to go with a plus arm at only 20 years old. However, he has a noticeable split between lefties and righties and a career 30.1% K rate through three seasons in the low minors, which is a big issue. Tyler Kolek is not far removed from throwing 100+ MPH and being a first round pick for the Fish in 2014, but he showed a lack of velocity, lack of a strong secondary pitch, and questionable command in 2015 before undergoing the Tommy John surgery that required him to miss all of 2016. Dillon Peters has put up good run prevention numbers in his 170+ IP in the minors as a groundball-heavy lefty...BUT his strikeout rate dipped in his brief stint in AA last year and his run prevention excellence looks due for some regression.
Basically, the Marlins farm system is a gas station filled with cheap lottery tickets. The good news is that makes my job fun. Because throughout this next season, I get to scratch off the tickets as the season progresses and look for diamonds in the rough. You can bet the Marlins front office would take a ruby in the rough at this point. Happy hunting!