A lot has been said about the Miami Marlins new front office since they took over the team in October from disaster artist Jeffrey Loria and his crew of franchise destroyers. The ownership group, headed by businessman Bruce Sherman and legendary New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, took over a team $400 million in debt and deep in the middle of an identity crisis. With an outfield full of All-Stars (LF Marcell Ozuna, CF Christian Yelich, and RF slugger Giancarlo Stanton) and surrounding pieces such as 1B Justin Bour and C J.T. Realmuto, it seemed like adding a few arms to the Marlins would be enough to vault them to the promised land.
However, taking a closer look at the state of the franchise—rather than just listening to everything Marlins Man angrily shouts—will show just how much this team needed the facelift that it got this past winter.
Stanton’s $325 million contract and the $400 million in debt accrued during the purchase limited their flexibility to add major league talent. Most importantly, the depleted farm system wasn’t in a position to provide homegrown reinforcements. A reset was necessary.
For these reasons, I’ve decided to establish a daily Marlins prospect journal entitled “Things We Love to See.” I am thankful to the great people at FishStripes for providing me with this platform to tell the story of how much brighter the light at the end of the tunnel looks for this Marlins franchise right now. My goal for the journal is to provide updates on what’s going on down on the farm with daily lines from the Marlins’ top prospects. I’ll also be discussing some of the more intriguing guys that are putting up big numbers but may not show up on prestigious lists.
Before I get into box scores and results, I think the best thing to do with my first post is to introduce some of the guys that may be covered more than others, those that will be giving us plenty of things we love to see. Please note that any rankings that I’ll be mentioning are from MLB Pipeline, the official scouting service of Major League Baseball, and all the statistics I report on are from FanGraphs, a respected baseball statistics website. I get my box scores from MiLB.com which posts every game from every level.
Let’s take a look at some of the names you’ll need to watch out for going forward on “Things We Love to See!”
Miami Marlins (MLB)
Brian Anderson, RF (Graduated): While Anderson has technically graduated as a prospect, he is still an integral part of the Marlins rebuild as it stands now. Anderson, 25, is in his rookie year and before graduating was ranked #8 on the Marlins Top 30 heading into the 2018 season. Anderson is having a tremendous first year in The Show and is a legitimate contender for NL Rookie of the Year. Anderson has played some 3B in his career, but has been in RF most of the year. His slash line (Batting Average/On Base %/ Slugging %) currently sits at a very impressive .288/.363/.429 with 8 home runs and 49 RBI. He’s only striking out at a 17% clip (down from 29.5% last year) and is walking at a solid 8.7% rate. Anderson has a cannon for an arm so he profiles well in right, but considering the depth the Marlins have in the outfield, he could end up at 3rd long term.
Lewis Brinson, CF (Graduated): Brinson was the headline acquisition the Marlins made this offseason in the Christian Yelich deal with the Brewers, and was the #18 overall prospect in baseball before his graduation from prospect status. There is a lot that can be said about Brinson on both sides of the coin, but there is no disputing how naturally talented he is at the game of baseball. He has great natural power that he’s channeled in bursts this year to hit 10 home runs and 4 triples, which leads all rookies. His struggles have been well documented but he’s had flashes at times especially on the defensive side. Brinson was performing at his best before going on the DL in June and was making a ton of hard contact. It’s important to focus more on the adjustments and development that Brinson will make after he comes off the DL and as he finishes off his rookie year.
Sandy Alcántara, SP (Marlins #2, #88 Overall): Alcántara was the headliner of the Marcell Ozuna trade the Marlins made with the Cardinals. Alcántara is a power-righty whose fastball approaches triple digits and he compliments that big fastball with a good slider and changeup, though his curveball needs work. He made one start with the Marlins after he was called up from Triple-A, but was placed on the DL shortly after with an infection. His command is his biggest issue, something that is often the case with young power arms, and will be the most important thing to look for to develop going forward. Alcántara grinded through 5 innings (IP) in his first start, allowing three hits (H) and five walks (BB) but holding the Mets to only 1 earned run (ER) which helped the Marlins pick up the win. He’ll strike out a ton of guys, but the most important thing to watch will be his walk numbers.
Pablo López, SP (Marlins #20): López was acquired at the trade deadline in 2017 from Seattle in the David Phelps trade and has been possibly the biggest riser across all levels in the Marlins system this year. López started the year in Double-A Jacksonville, moved up after 8 starts and made only 4 with the Baby Cakes in New Orleans before getting called up the same weekend as Alcántara to make his first MLB start. López doesn’t have a great pitch but has good ones across the board: a fastball, slider, and changeup. He gets a lot of his strikeouts from his ability to control the strike zone. López has been up and down in three starts so far in the MLB, but he’s had good strikeout and walk numbers, which reflects well on his pitching ability at this level. I like to refer to him as the Kyle Hendricks of the Marlins system, because he beats you with control over velocity.
New Orleans Baby Cakes (AAA)
Magneuris Sierra, CF (Marlins #6): *sigh* This one frustrates me. Sierra was acquired along with Alcántara in the Ozuna trade and is a speedy center fielder who profiles as a leadoff hitter. Here’s the problem with that, Sierra doesn’t draw that many walks which is vital for the table setter in a lineup. Dee Gordon is a speedy, glove-first guy who doesn’t draw many walks and has been relatively successful in the leadoff spot, but that’s because Dee is usually flirting with .300 rather than .250. Sierra is only hitting .260 and his OBP isn’t much higher at .289, and his power numbers aren’t great either. Sierra is on here because he’s highly ranked in the Marlins system and was a big piece in a headline offseason trade, but he’s a guy that’s falling fast in the Marlins system, especially with the amount of depth in the outfield.
Zac Gallen, SP (Marlins #12): Gallen was also acquired in the Cardinals trade (are you seeing a trend here?) and is the only major Marlins pitching prospect left in New Orleans with López and Alcántara in the MLB. Gallen is a similar pitcher to Pablo López but he does the same things with even less velocity than López. He won’t strike a ton of guys out but he won’t walk that many either, and slots in as a solid middle of rotation guy you can bank on to eat innings and control the game. I may have also referred to him as a Hendricks type.
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (AA)
Monte Harrison, RF (Marlins #1, #58 Overall): Harrison was acquired in the Yelich trade (are you following?) as the second Top 100 prospect the Marlins received. Harrison projects to hit for a lot of power and be more effective with the glove than with the bat. This is due to his elite-ranked arm which should shift him to right in the majors, even though he’s played center field in Jacksonville. Harrison has a major issue right now and that’s striking out (nearly 40 K%). There’s 2 pieces of good news:
- When Harrison makes contact, he’s ripping the ball and hitting for power.
- He’s shown the ability to adjust and reduce his strikeout numbers as he moves up in the past.
I believe he’s too good at other aspects of the game to not be an effective player at the highest level, but he’s going to have to make that adjustment and get the strikeouts down in order to get there.
Isan Diaz, 2B (Marlins #9): Diaz may be my favorite prospect the Marlins have right now. He’s a left-handed, power-hitting 2nd baseman with a sweet swing which reminds a lot of people of Robinson Cano. The Marlins acquired him in the Yelich trade and since coming off the DL in June, he’s been one of the best hitters in the Southern League. He hits for power and draws a boat load of walks (his OBP is .122 higher than his BA!!!!) which is really exciting for such a young guy. Diaz will most likely rise in the Marlins system when the updated rankings come out.
Nick Neidert, SP (Marlins #8): Neidert is the man. The work the Marlins did in two trades with the Mariners (Dee Gordon and David Phelps both went to Seattle) should not be understated. Neidert was acquired in the Gordon trade and is another one of those low velocity, great control kind of guys that goes deep into games and gets a lot of strikeouts. Since joining the Marlins, Neidert’s strikeout numbers have skyrocketed from 12% last year to 26.5% (!!!!) this season with Jacksonville. He doesn’t walk a lot of guys either and projects well as another solid mid-line maybe high-end starter. I may or may not have said that Neidert is like the Hendricks of the Marlins system. He may sneak his way into the Top 100 at the next update.
Jordan Yamamoto (Marlins #19): The only guy you could put up against Pablo Lopez for fastest riser in the Marlins farm this year is Yamamoto. He was acquired as the throw-in piece in the Brewers trade, but has been way more than that since starting his season in May with High-A Jupiter. Yamamoto is another guy that has lower velocity but uses his ability to pitch as well as high spin rates to strike out a ton of guys with a fastball-changeup-curveball combo that has been fooling hitters all season. In 7 starts in Jupiter, Yamamoto’s K/9 was 10.40 and has only increased in Double-A, up to 11.45 in his first two starts. Yamamoto is another really intriguing pitching prospect in the system to watch going forward.
Joe Dunand, SS, 3B (Marlins #16): Dunand was the Marlins 2nd round pick last season and is the nephew of legendary slugger Alex Rodriguez. Dunand was up and down in Jupiter this year, before being called up to Jacksonville, but showed the ability to hit for power and draw some walks. If he can continue to improve those things he’ll be a solid prospect that can move up the Marlins board. Dunand is off to a rough start since being called up to Jacksonville.
Jupiter Hammerheads (High-A)
Jorge Guzman (Marlins #3): Guzman has possibly the highest ceiling of any Marlins prospect. Acquired from the Yankees in the Stanton trade, he has an elite-ranked fastball that can get up to 101 with movement. He compliments the fastball with a good power-slider and a changeup that is coming along. The deal with Guzman is all about control. If he can learn to turn down the velocity in order to limit walks, he has number 1, number 2-starter type potential. If he can’t improve the control he could definitely be a great late-inning reliever.
James Nelson, 3B (Marlins #9): Nelson had a great 2017 and was named the Marlins organizational player of the year. He showed ability to hit for power last year, but is off to a rough start in Jupiter since starting the season late because of injury. Nelson has potential and should start hitting eventually, but if he doesn’t may fall down the totem pole of left-side infielders in the Marlins system.
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Low-A)
Jose Devers, SS (Marlins #21): Speed and glove. Those are the things that pop off the page when you first read into Devers, but out of nowhere this dude can really hit. He’s been one of the most pleasant surprises in the system this year because he was the figurative “bag of baseballs” in the Stanton trade. Devers has been insurmountably more value to the system than was initially suggested, consistently hitting in the .270s and getting up into the .280s, with an OBP sitting about .30-.40 points higher than that usually. They’re not electrifying numbers, but for an 18-year-old in A-ball they show the potential that Devers possesses, especially considering his ability in the field. He also should develop some power as the 18-year-old fills out his 6’ 0” 155 lb. frame.
Tristan Pompey (#51 2018 Draft Prospect): The Marlins got great value for Pompey when they drafted him with the 89th pick in the 3rd round in the 2018 draft. He only played 4 games in GCL rookie ball and was quickly promoted to Greensboro where he’s off to a great start, hitting .315 and drawing 6 walks in 9 games. He’ll hit well and is a solid fielder, but his weaker arm will probably put him in left. He was a great addition to the Marlins outfield depth in this year’s draft, and should move quickly up the system. Expect him to be in the Top 30 when the rankings are updated.
Edward Cabrera, SP (Marlins #11): Cabrera’s strikeouts are up this season but his walks have followed right along with them. However he’s gone on streaks where it seems like he’s striking everybody out, such as his last two starts when he’s struck out 14 in 8 IP. He throws hard and also compliments his heat with a good power-slider. He has a little more control than some of the other power arms in the system, but that comes with lesser velocity. It’ll be all about control with Cabrera as well as showing the ability to go deeper into games.
Trevor Rogers, SP (Marlins #5): Rogers was aggressively mediocre in his first seven or so starts with Greensboro, but was consistently missing a ton of bats (9.87 K/9, 23.5 K% so far.) He’s continued to do so in his last few times out, and has started limiting the walks which has upped his performance. He had his best performance of the year on Tuesday going 6 IP and striking out 8. Rogers’ batting average on balls in play (BABIP) has been really high which suggests he’s had some bad luck behind him, but he has to limit the hits going forward. The Marlins took Rogers over former Gator Alex Faedo in 2017, which left a salty taste in my mouth, but if Rogers can continue to get better every time he pitches he could come along really nicely.
Batavia Muckdogs (Short Season A Ball)
Brayan Hernandez, OF and Christopher Torres, SS (Marlins #18 and #15): Both were acquired from Seattle (Hernandez in the Phelps trade and Torres in the Gordon trade) and started their seasons late due to injuries. Both are glove-first guys that are gonna need to show more at the plate to move up the ranks. Expect more in-depth coverage as they progress in the system.
DSL Marlins (Dominican Summer League)
Ynmanol Marinez, SS (Marlins #29): Marinez was the number 13 overall international prospect in the 2017 class. He projects as a glove-first SS but does show the potential to be a serviceable hitter and has shown the ability to draw walks in the DSL so far. He’s only 17 and a good ways away from the MLB, but it should fun to follow his progress going forward.
GCL Marlins (Gulf Coast League)
Connor Scott, OF (#18 2018 Draft Prospect): Scott was the Marlins first round pick at #13 overall out of Plant High School in Tampa. He’s got near elite speed and a good glove but is off to a really slow start in rookie ball with the bat, and needs to get that going. He’s only 18 and a long way away, but Scott is an intricate piece of this rebuild as the first first-round pick of the new era.
Osiris Johnson, SS (#103 2018 Draft Prospect): Johnson doesn’t have one tool that stands out but based on his profile should be solid all around. He has natural pop and projects to add more as he grows older. Another high school pick taken with the 53rd pick in the 2nd round, Johnson is also a long way away and is off to a slow start in the GCL.
Will Banfield, C (#34 2018 Draft Prospect): Banfield has a tremendous arm for a high school catcher and it should only improve as he ages and continues to fill out. Taken with the 69th pick in the competitive balance round in 2018, Banfield has great value and was a very surprising and exciting signing for the Marlins when he picked pro ball over his commitment to Vanderbilt. He’s already throwing a bunch of guys out in the GCL but also needs to start waking up at the plate.
These 3 guys are an intricate part of the rebuild starting now and should all make the Top 30 list when the updated list comes out. It cannot be understated how important this draft is to getting this rebuild off on the right foot.
I hope you follow along and keep up to date with me on what’s going on down on the farm with these big names and under-the-radar guys alike. If you’re still reading, we love to see it.