Many baseball scouts have ranked the Marlins farm system near the bottom of the heap. Given that their last first-round pick to make an impact on the team was Jose Fernandez who was chosen 14th overall back in 2011, this may come as no surprise to Marlins’ fans.
The team has also traded away many top prospects, such as Luis Castillo, who was shipped to Cincinnati in the acquisition of pitcher Dan Straily. Such moves in recent years have helped to erode organizational depth.
The Marlin’s first round pick from 2016, a 6’3” left-handed pitcher from Florence High in Alabama, Braxton Garrett, was picked 7th overall and given an above-slot bonus of $4,145,900 to forgo his commitment to Vanderbilt.
Garrett is currently ranked by ESPN, mlbpipeline.com, and Baseball America as the Marlins’ top prospect. He was ranked this spring as the 76th best prospect overall by Baseball America, and is the only Marlin to reach the top 100. Additionally, he is not projected to reach the majors until 2019 or 2020.
Before you get too dejected about the barren landscape of the farm system, or become forlorn at the long wait for Garrett, let’s look a little at what he brings to the table entering this season.
First, he’s only 19 years old, and last year was ranked as the number 2 high school lefty pitcher in the US by Perfect Game. He pitched for the 18u Team USA club in 2015, and in his senior year in high school boasted a 0.53 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings in his senior campaign year.
He topped out at 92 mph at several events, and is tall and lean with physical projection to add more velocity. Most impressively, when looking at various videos of him from 2016, his fastball has good lateral movement, and he features a sharp and tight curve ball, which several scouts have called his best pitch. His changeup has also developed over the past year, per several publications.
He does this with ease and not much physical effort, suggesting a lower risk for arm injury. His command is also seen as above-average. Given that the organization’s top righty, 2014 first rounder, flame-throwing RHP Tyler Kolek, missed all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, one can assume that the Marlins front office saw this as a plus.
Though still a ways off from the big leagues, Braxton Garrett is at least a bright spot in the farm system that fans can follow in the low minors this year.