The Marlins farm system had been a cellar dweller for several years. Draft picks and trades didn’t pan out, the investment in Latin America was insufficient, and when elite prospects such as Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich hit the majors, the next wave of talent never developed.
Since 2015, SB Nation’s preseason farm system rankings consistently placed the Fish at or near the bottom:
2015 Rank: 29th
2016 Rank: 29th
2017 Rank: 30th
New ownership turned over much of their roster this past winter, specifically their entire outfield in order to restock the farm system while reducing payroll for a team stuck in mediocrity.
Not to dis-Re2pect the Process, considering this step in the right direction, but how good is the farm system currently?
Several players on the preseason list have since outgrown the “prospect” label given the amount of playing time they have seen in the majors. In particular, Brian Anderson and Lewis Brinson have stuck with the big club since Opening Day, while Trevor Richards and several others have also been on the active roster for some time now.
One informal way that MLB Pipeline ranks organizations is by how many Top 100 prospects are still in the system. This is a fluid process, as the Yankees were near the top at the beginning of the season but now are middle of the pack as Glyber Torres and others become established major leaguers, thus dropping their ranking. Based on this framework, the Marlins are currently ranked 23rd, given that they have only two players in the Top 100.
Those two players, Monte Harrison (#59) and Sandy Alcántara (#89), are exciting but not can’t miss prospects by any means. Keep in mind that the players taken in the 2018 draft have not been included in these rankings.
Alcántara pitched with the Cardinals at the end of the season last year, and looked good in his five-inning Marlins debut before landing on the disabled list. Harrison has shown athleticism and pop in double-A, but struck out 135 times in his first 312 at-bats while hitting a measly .231.
Other top prospects on the MLB Pipeline list:
Jorge Guzman—Acquired in the Stanton deal, is the lone selection for the organization in the MLB Futures Game. His 100+ fastball is electric, but his control has been hit or miss while pitching for Jupiter (single-A advanced).
Trevor Rogers—The first round pick from 2017 has been up and down so far as a starter with Greensboro (single-A), but he’s only 20 years old and has excellent secondary pitches, so there is a lot of upside.
Magneuris Sierra: Having played briefly with St. Louis, Sierra has been doing more or less as expected in triple-A, though with a lower batting average. Sierra profiles as a speedy, slick fielding outfielder with less power than a Lewis Brinson. It’s easy to see him being called up to Miami by the end of the season.
Brian Miller: Chosen 36th overall out of UNC, this line drive hitting outfielder has already been called up to double-A. Hitting .321 as a pro, Miller is also an excellent defender with a propensity for base stealing.
Jordan Yamamoto: Coming over from Milwaukee in the Yelich deal, Yamamoto has been spectacular and was recently called up to double-A Jacksonville. In seven starts so far this season, he has 40.2 IP with 26 hits, 7 runs, 8 walks and 47 Ks. He has two games with double-digit strikeout performances in his last three starts.
Other prospects who have made appearances in the pros this season include Caleb Smith, Ben Meyer and Dillon Peters, with varying results. Clearly Caleb Smith has shown quite a bit of promise before his season-ending injury while Peters has struggled.
Overall, several prospects have made an impact already; Brian Anderson is an NL ROY candidate; Lewis Brinson has shown improvement, but still has a long way to go; Caleb Smith demonstrated legitimate swing-and-miss ability.
You will also notice that most of the minor leaguers who are shining are either recent draft picks or were acquired in trades over the past 12 months.
That said, there are no can’t miss stars such as a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the Marlins pipeline. However, plenty of top prospects flop and many dark horse candidates shine. Additionally, the 2018 draft class—most notably Connor Scott, Osiris Johnson, Will Banfield and Tristan Pompey—is just starting out. More trades may be in the works before the deadline, which could add more young talent to the organization.
The Marlins currently have a fairly mediocre farm system, largely due to a lack of “high ceiling” players. But this is Year 1 and there are likely more moves to be made.