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Zach Sullivan: Marlin on the Rise

Zach Sullivan, Centerfielder

This offseason, Fish Stripes is providing outlines on Miami’s top prospects. I used a poll to gauge the public’s perception on who to watch for in the coming years. The top 100 are getting a page each. Today’s player is Zach Sullivan, a native of Corning, New York.

Sullivan was born on November 26th, 1995, and grew into a 6’3”, 180 lb. center fielder. Miami selected him in the 14th round of the 2014 amateur draft, with the 407th pick off the board. Nobody from that round has yet made it to the majors, but keep your eyes peeled.

After his selection out of Corning East High School, Sullivan joined the GCL Marlins in Miami’s Florida based instructional league, where he slashed .280/.389/.398 in 30 games, with nine stolen bases in 10 attempts. From July 11th through July 30th after his selection, he hit .483 over a nine-game span, going 14-for-29 with four walks and four RBI. He ended up hitting safely in 17 of his first 21 appearances, with six of those contests ending as multi-hit affairs. He started a dozen times in center and a dozen times in left.

Sullivan skipped the short-season Batavia Muckdogs and reported straight to the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the SAL in 2015. He recorded nine outfield assists while appearing for at least 183 innings in each spot and closed shop with a .973 fielding percentage. At the plate, he slashed .192/.235/.227 while stealing 13 bases and collecting 21 RBI in 116 games. He also registered 10 sacrifice hits. He collected multiple hits in 15 games, including a three-for-four day at the plate, also collecting an RBI in an 8-5 win against the Rome Braves on May 9th.

The Marlins’ organization kept the still-just-20 Sullivan in the SALLY league for additional seasoning in 2016, where he improved to .226/.280/.320 in 111 contests. That was a near-100 point gain in slugging, as evidenced by Sullivan’s 21 doubles. He also collected 37 RBI, but struggled with patience at the plate to the tune of 117 strikeouts. Greensboro also had Sullivan more strongly committed to the center field position, with nearly 900 innings at the eight spot over 101 starts. He finished with a .986 fielding percentage, making just three errors in 221 chances along with nine assists.

In 2017, Sullivan was promoted to the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads, where he flourished defensively in center with just one error in nearly 600 innings, along with eight assists. In 85 games, he slashed .178/.239/.286, with four homers and 28 RBI. He was also successful in seven-of-eight stolen base attempts.

Zach was kind enough to answer some questions for Fish Stripes readers last night:

Fish Stripes: I see you’re from Corning, New York, which is pretty much the same distance from the Red Sox, the Pirates, the Mets, the Yankees, and the Phillies. Who did you want to play for while you were growing up?

Zach: I grew up a Yankees’ fan, went to many of their games growing up. Especially a huge Derek Jeter fan so it’s pretty great to have him as a leader in the organization now.

Fish Stripes: That’s cool. Have you had a chance to meet him yet?

Zach: I have not, hopefully I will have the chance to see him around in spring training.

Fish Stripes: Keep your fingers crossed.

Although you play all three outfield positions, you seem naturally suited to center field. Is there another position that you’d like to try/would be good at?

Zach: Yeah I’ve had the chance to play a lot at all three positions throughout the years. For me it doesn’t matter what position in the outfield. I’m playing as long as I get that opportunity to be in the lineup. I’m confident in all three positions but if I had the choice I would play center.

Fish Stripes: You spent last season with the Jupiter Hammerheads in the high-A FSL. What sort of challenges do you foresee in taking your game to the next level?

Zach: For me a big challenge would be being more consistent at the plate, having more of a consistent approach and keep everything simple. Everyone goes through those ups and downs throughout the long season but for me it’s being able to take every one of those and learn from them in a positive way.

Fish Stripes: Is there a professional ball player, or any athlete in general, who you try to emulate in your play?

Zach: I’ve always tried to be my own kind of player in this game but you see guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper who are two of the best players in the game today, and you sit back and admire how they play the game. They play hard and leave everything out on the field. They play the game the right way and how it’s supposed to be played. So that’s one thing I’ve always made a priority in my game is to make sure I give it everything I have and never leave myself with any doubt.

Fish Stripes: In your development into a professional, and hopefully future big-leaguer, is there anyone who has been particularly influential in your career?

Zach: My family has been everything in my career. They are the reason as to where I’m at now in my life. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without them. All the countless hours they have put in for me, my dad and all the time he’s spent in the cages with me throughout the years. All the encouragement from my mom and my two brothers. They have all been there for me and always will be.

Fish Stripes: Thanks for all the good answers tonight. Just one more question - what’s your favorite offseason hobby?

Zach: I love to hunt and fish, spend as much time as I can in the woods. Get to spend some time with my Grandpa and go fishing with him a lot, which is always a great time.

Fish Stripes would like to thank Zach for setting aside his time to answer our questions. Tune in tomorrow for a look into prospect Harrison White.