One would likely forgive most Marlins fans for having one eye on the minor leagues this season, given the low expectations for the Fish in 2018. Several highly regarded prospects will be opening their seasons down on the farm, after all.
This season, every Monday I will give a weekly brief recap of each level of the week’s action for each Marlins farm affiliate, focusing on the top prospects (per MLB Pipeline) and whoever else may be making an impact or turning heads.
Triple-A: New Orleans Baby Cakes
Record last week: 3-1
Season record: 3-1
After getting blown out on opening night, the Cakes have taken three straight games in impressive fashion. The pitching staff only gave up two runs over three games, largely due to strong starting pitching. Sandy Alcantara, Ben Meyer and Zac Gallen all shut down the Nashville Sounds, while Nick Wittgren anchored the bullpen and got his first save of the year on Saturday night.
Stretched over three seasons, Nick Wittgren has made 16 straight scoreless appearances for Triple-A New Orleans https://t.co/X69i78OLE7— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) April 8, 2018
Alcantara, the Fish’s top pitching prospect went 4.2 innings, giving up 4 hits and a run a while fanning 8 in his season debut.
Veteran Scott Van Slyke has continued his hot hitting from spring training, and has gone 5 for 11 so far, with a homer. On the down side, Magneuris Sierra, the Marlins 7th ranked prospect, has gotten off to an 0 for 13 start at the plate.
Double-A: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Record last week: 1-3
Season record: 1-3
Two of the biggest pieces from the Yelich trade are starting the season in Jacksonville this year: center fielder Monte Harrison and second baseman Isan Diaz. Through Sunday’s action, they are only hitting a combined 2 for 23, but there’s plenty of season to go, folks.
The first start of the year for Marlins 10th rated prospect, righty Nick Neidert, didn’t go as well as hoped, either. Neidert, who came to the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade, lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits.
Single-A (Advanced): Jupiter Hammerheads
Record last week: 2-2
Season record: 2-2
Outfielder Brain Miller, the Marlins 12th ranked prospect, has had himself a weekend going 7 for 17. The UNC product was the 36th overall pick in the 2017 draft and projects as a top of the lineup hitter.
Chosen 15 picks later in the 2017 draft, third baseman Joe Dunand (A-Rod’s nephew and the Fish’s 19th ranked prospect) has had an impact with 5 RBI in his first four games.
ICYMI: Joe Dunand's triple that cleared the bases to put the Hammerheads on on top for good. #HammerDown #futurefish pic.twitter.com/xpFH9kk54u— Jupiter Hammerheads (@GoHammerheads) April 6, 2018
Fellow infielder Riley Mahan (20th ranked prospect) also did well this week, going 3 for 8 with a double.
Single-A: Greensboro Grasshoppers
Record last week: 3-0
Season record: 3-0
Brady Puckett, a right-handed pitcher who was a 15th-round pick in 2017 out of Lipscomb University, had a stellar 2018 debut on the bump, going 6 shutout innings for the win on Thursday. Meanwhile, reliever Tyler Frohwirth, son of former Phillie Todd Frohwirth, picked up a save this week; as did Oral Roberts product, Bryce Howe.
At the plate, it has been a true team effort so far this season, while Grasshopper veteran Isael Soto added the lone home run for the Hoppers so far this season.