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Holiday Presents: Marlins Edition

Which young players should Marlins fans be looking forward to seeing this upcoming season?

San Francisco Giants v Miami Marlins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Pardon the cliché, but as we get closer to the holidays, Marlins fans may begin to wonder what gifts they could look forward to “opening” at Marlins Park in 2019. The upcoming season will provide fans the chance to not only see the development of familiar faces, but also to get excited about some prospects that will likely be making their Marlins debut.

As such, the following article will unwrap the names—while providing some condensed scouting reports—of impactful young players who will likely don #OurColores at Marlins Park and make this rebuilding year well worth the price of admission.

OF Lewis Brinson

San Francisco Giants v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Future Value: Hit 50 | Power 60 | Speed 55 | Field 55 | Arm: 60

Disclosure: I understand the doubts related with his first year at the major league level. I understand the hesitation to accept that he will reach his once elite-level ceiling. I understand the concerns with his age, being a slightly older prospect; who is now no longer in prospect status. I understand all of that.

With that being said, you cannot ignore that his immense tools, continuous success in the minors, and highly regarded work ethic did not magically disappear when first setting foot in Marlins Park. To some, Brinson’s first ML struggles are enough to write off the Yelich trade as a premature failure, and him along with it. I’m not a part of the “some.” Brinson is still at the heart of this rebuild, and he will be someone to monitor throughout all of 2019. Now healthy, and with a full year in Miami under his belt, Marlins fans should be excited to see Sweet Lew roaming Marlins Park.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

3B/OF Brian Anderson

Future Value: Hit 50 | Power 50 | Speed 50 | Field 50+ | Arm 60

Anderson had the 2018 campaign that many predicted Brinson would yield; finishing 4th in the N.L. Rookie of the Year race. He exceeded expectations by showing an advanced approach at the plate that awarded him for patience and a disciplined eye. Anderson finished with a 3.4 WAR, while splitting time between third base and right field.

To the surprise of some scouts, Anderson more than held his own in the outfield, and added a valuable dynamic of versatility to his baseball profile. New acquisitions and drafting could alter his future position outlook, but for now, expect to find Anderson manning the hot corner for this future Marlins’ core.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

SP Sandy Alcántara

Future Value: Fastball 65+ | Changeup 55 | Slider 55 | Curveball 50 | Command 45+

Alcántara’s time with the Marlins was limited, due to nagging and largely benign injuries, but he showed enough to impress the Marlins brass. Make no mistake, his command will remain the volatile variable in his performance, but his weapons showed the ability to compensate for sporadic control.

The next Marlins core could greatly benefit from a front-line starter, and Alcántara has the goods to deliver. The question is whether his command will allow for those goods to make their way to the front end of the rotation, or will it limit the impact. The baseball community will likely begin finding out in 2019.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

SP Trevor Richards

Future Value: Fastball 50 | Changeup 65+ | Curveball 45 | Command 50+

There is no surprise when you step into the batting box against Richards, but that does not mean he lacks deception. The hitter knows that he must lay off of the changeup—one of the filthiest in baseball—and attack the fastball. Too bad: Richards’ repeats his delivery and release point at such an elite level that hitters cannot halt their swing until well after they realize that what they are actually swinging at is the change.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Upon being called to Miami, Richards immediately put the league on notice with how truly deceptive he could be, zigging while everybody else zags in this velocity-obsessed era. His fastball/change combo accounts for almost 90% of his pitch mix, with results typically reinforcing the decision. Richards is likely limited to a mid to back-end starter in most rotations, but for a player that has beaten larger odds before, I won’t be the one to limit his ceiling.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

SP Pablo López

St Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Future Value: Fastball 55 | Changeup 55 | Curveball 50 | Command 55

Immediately becoming a fan favorite, López exceeded expectations in his first year with the big boys. Prior to experiencing a right shoulder strain, Lopez was able to keep hitters off balance by efficiently mixing his secondary usage (CB% = 20% and CH% = 20%), often leading to hitters mis-timing his fastball/changeup combo.

Similar to Richards, Pablo López profiles as a mid to back-end starter, although his ceiling may be slightly higher due to his balanced approach and additional velocity.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

RP Riley Ferrell

Future Value: Fastball 65 | Slider 60 | Command 45

Ferrell was Miami’s selection in this year’s MLB Rule 5 Draft. For more information of the fire-throwing right hander, please view his inclusion in both our Rule 5 preview and review.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

1B/OF Garrett Cooper

Future Value: Hit 50 | Power 55+ | Speed 30 | Field 40+ | Arm 50

Cooper will likely find himself in a close battle for the first base job, with counterparts Peter O’Brien and Pedro Álvarez. Although O’Brien is likely considered the favorite heading into Spring Training, Cooper is still in a good spot for playing time, due to his versatility and ability of playing in the OF. Cooper is somewhat of an underrated asset, due to age and playing non-premium positions. However, his hit/power combo is intriguing, and if he can remain healthy, the fans may be surprised by his potential impact.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 100%

RP Merandy González

Future Value: Fastball 55+ | Changeup 50 | Cutter 50 | Curveball 55 | Command: 40+

The pitcher acquired for AJ Ramos at the 2017 trade deadline, González wields a powerful fastball with a plus curveball. However, he wields it with limited precision, and it shows in his inability to miss bats at the ML level.

González was unable to locate both his fastball and curveball, particularly on the corners, typically leaving his heater in the heart of the strike zone, something that will not fool many ML hitters. González profiles as a future relief pitcher, but his ceiling remains as a back-end starter, with an average to above average fastball and off-speed combo.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 99%

2B Isan Díaz

Fish Stripes original GIF

Future Value Hit 50 | Power 55 | Speed 40 | Field 50 | Arm 55+

Díaz is the first top-shelf prospect to be mentioned that has yet to make his ML debut. That should change in 2019. Whether due to a Castro trade, an injury, or Diaz simply playing and forcing himself out of the minors, Díaz will likely find his way to Marlins Park in this upcoming campaign.

A hit-first middle infielder, who often gets comps to a “lefty Dan Uggla” or even the rare Robinson Canó ceiling, Díaz is destined—at least the Marlins hope—to be a staple in the upcoming core. The lefty has the tools to fulfill these lofty expectations, so if there is one “gift” that Marlins fans should be excited to open…it is Isan Díaz.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 75%

SP Nick Neidert

Future Value: Fastball 50 | Changeup 60 | Curveball 50 | Command 60

Neidert, another critical return piece of the 2017 rebuild, is the epitome of an “old-school” pitcher in the current era of baseball. He will not blow you away with his fastball or drop your jaw with a 12-6; rather, he will nitpick the hitter to death by locating the corners with what some scouts consider to be elite precision.

Neidert’s prospect profile is eerily similar to the likes of Kyle Hendricks and Zack Greinke, two ML pitcher who have done quite well for themselves, for players without plus-velocity.

If Isan Díaz is the position prospect that you should be excited to see debut, then Neidert is the equally exciting pitching prospect who will motivate you to be at the Park when he toes the rubber in Little Havana for the first time.

Probably of seeing at Marlins Park: 75%

SP Zac Gallen

Future Value: Fastball 50 | Changeup 55 | Cutter 50 | Curveball 50 | Command 50

Often the forgotten prospect in the Ozuna return (behind the most electrifying Alcántara and speedster Sierra), Gallen may end up being the better of the two secondary pieces included. Gallen’s 2018 season was aided by a slight increase in his velocity, as well as an ability to follow up his 92-94 MPH fastball with a slightly above average changeup.

Gallen’s profile does not yield much excitement amongst fans, but every core needs a solid back-end starter, and Gallen seems ready to take that step within the next season.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 75%

RP José Quijada

Future Value: Fastball 55 | Changeup 45+ | Slider 55+ | Command 45

A pitching prospect who the Marlins quickly converted from starter to reliever after his initial rookie ball season, Quijada has been an effective relief pitcher throughout the Marlins system. This does not come as a surprise, being that his fastball/slider combo is amongst the best in Miami’s organization.

Look for Quijada to be running out of the gates from the Marlins bullpens sooner rather than later.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 75%

OF Brian Miller

Future Value: Hit 60 | Power 40+ | Speed 60 | Field 50 | Arm 45

Miller owns the best hit tool in the Marlins system, and no that is not a typo. He was drafted because he could hit, he has progressed throughout the Marlins farm because he could hit, and he will eventually make his debut at Marlins Park…because he can hit. Miller’s hit/speed tools are enticing for a Marlins outfield that is both missing consistent hit tools and requires significant speed and range.

Miami gave Magneuris Sierra every chance possible to man an outfield spot in 2018—he is still young and has room to develop—but I would now also look for Miami to give Miller his chance in 2019.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 50%

OF Víctor Víctor Mesa

Miami Marlins News Conference Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Future Value: Hit 55 | Power 45+ | Speed 65+ | Field 65 | Arm 60

Coming over from Cuba earlier this year, the Marlins’ No. 1 prospect has few available highlights, and his only showcase on American soil in October was closed to the public. As such, I hope you can forgive me for incorporating grades and information from other sources such as Fangraphs and Baseball America, other than just my own.

Most scouts believe that Mesa is a future Gold Glove candidate at CF, with limited power, but sufficient hit ability to be a meaningful addition to the everyday lineup. Although Fangraphs and Baseball America cast quite a wide net in their player comparisons, it seems that Mesa’s floor is a player similar to Cubs CF Albert Almora, with his ceiling being closer to Nationals OF Víctor Robles.

Although undecided, Mesa likely begins in either High-A or AA for the Marlins. His likelihood of progressing through the Marlins system will depend on how quickly he adjusts to stateside pitching, which is much easier said than done. Nonetheless, I would not put it past him.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 50%

OF Monte Harrison

Arizona Fall League All Star Game Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Future Value: Hit 45+ | Power 60+ | Speed 60 | Field 60 | Arm 70

If you like tools—most scouts do—then you absolutely love Monte Harrison’s prospect profile. Often labeled as amongst the most athletic players in all of baseball, Harrison’s future value to the Marlins fully hinges on his ability to develop and master his hit tool and approach at the plate.

Whether Gary Denbo, minor league coaches, or Harrison himself figures out a way to advance his hit tool remains a question. If that occurs, this is a potential superstar player that Miami builds around in the future. Well above average power, speed, fielding, and throwing arm will allow for Miami to be patient with his hit development. This is also why fans will likely have to wait until 2020 to receive this gift, but the belief is that the wait is worth the reward.

With that being stated, if Harrison shows that his improved approach—visible throughout the Arizona Fall League—is sustainable, then a chance remains that he could receive his first cup of coffee in the show this upcoming year.

Probability of seeing at Marlins Park: 33%

Honorable Mentions: Jordan Yamamoto, Bryson Brigman, Robert Dugger, Magneuris Sierra, Colton Hock, McKenzie Mills, Peter O’Brien.