The Marlins completed their first major trade of the winter yesterday afternoon by sending the speedy and talented Dee Gordon to the Pacific Northwest for prospects Nick Neidert, Christopher Torres, and Robert Dugger.
Below is a breakdown of the three newcomers, and what they may bring to the team in a few years’ time.
Nick Neidert, RHP, Seattle's #2 prospect, Miami's #4 prospect
Neidert, a second round pick in 2015, went 11-6 with a 3.45 ERA over 25 minor league starts between High-A (where he excelled) and Double-A in 2017. The 21 year-old's calling card is supreme command, as evident by a 1.6 BB/9 for his minor league career. He has a low 90s fastball that can creep up to 94-95 at times but, according to mlb.com, Neidert's best pitch is his changeup as it has great movement to go along with near pinpoint accuracy even though he only started to get a handle on it last year.
Both the slider and curveball are works in progress but, with a strong arm slot that generates decent velocity without much effort, Neidert projects as a dependable mid-rotation arm in the future. His progress had Mariners fans excited, and he is a very welcome addition to Miami's farm system. Neidert slides in as the teams fourth-best prospect, two spots higher than Tyler Kolek, who was the number two overall pick in the same draft year.
Christopher Torres, SS, Seattle's #7 prospect, Miami's #11 prospect
Torres was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for $375,000, and the 19 year-old compiled a .238 average, .329 OBP, and .775 OPS across 52 Class A short season and Arizona League games this past season. While the batting average does not appear that impressive on the surface, he is still developing his skills as a switch hitter, and saw fairly dramatic differences between his batting lines versus left and right handers (.295 and .221 averages, respectively) in 2017. With impressive speed and defensive skills, Torres looks like the second coming of Adeiny Hechavarria, albeit with more potential at the plate.
Torres has a mountain to climb if he wants to be a power hitter with his frame (5’ 11", 170 lb), but his ability to hit the ball the other way could result in bags of doubles and triples if he is able to make consistent contact. Although the Marlins just called up J.T. Riddle as their shortstop for the future, Torres could be a good fall-back option by the time 2019 rolls around.
Robert Dugger, RHP, unranked in both systems
Dugger, drafted in the 18th round out of Texas Tech University in 2016, quietly had an encouraging 2017 season by posting a 2.75 ERA over 31 games (18 starts) along with a 8.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 across Class-A and High-A. While he becomes an unranked prospect in Miami's system, there is reason to expect further development from the 22 year-old.
He has an aggressive and deceptive delivery which more often than not results in weak contact, especially from his sweeping curve and slider. Dugger's fastball, while "relentless" when used inside on right-handed hitters, lacks command. However, if his control improves, Dugger can become a long/middle reliever down the road.
While the deal primarily materialized because Seattle agreed to take on all of Dee Gordon's contract, the trade was not a straight salary dump by the Marlins. With three promising prospects acquired and more to come in subsequent trades, the farm system is already on the up, and there should be a degree of optimism forming about the future of the franchise.