Walter Triebel spent 15 years as an adjunct faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has had an extensive career in business and as a textbook and reference book author. Triebel’s “Road-Tripping the South Atlantic League: A Guide to the Teams, Ballparks and Cities“ was published by McFarland in 2016. It’s available for purchase on their website as well as Amazon.
Enjoy all of his 2018 Greensboro Grasshoppers coverage on Fish Stripes.
Traditionally, players signed by a Major League club through the current year’s First Year Player Draft get assigned to the rookie class or short-season A class team in the team’s Minor League system for the start of their regular season in late June. However, as the season progresses, a small number of those prospects may be promoted to the Major League club’s full-season A or advanced A class team. Typically, they are initially promoted to the full-season A class and might move to the advanced A level close to the end of the season. But, occasionally, a player skips the full-season A level and instead is promoted directly to the advanced A class.
The table of Figure 1 lists five players that were signed by the Miami Marlins through the 2018 First Year Player Draft that were recently promoted to the Greensboro Grasshoppers (South Atlantic League, full-season A class). The information provided in the table includes the name of each player, the position he typically plays, whether he throws right or left handed, bats from the right or left side of the plate or switch hits, the round he was selected in the draft, whether he was drafted out of high school or college, his age at signing, the team or teams he played for before being promoted, the class and league of that team(s), and the date he was promoted to the Grasshoppers.
Note from the table that all five of the prospects listed in Figure 1 are field players; began their professional baseball career at the rookie level with the GCL Marlins in the Gulf Coast League; and were promoted to the full-season A class in July or August. The table shows that two of them played college ball before entering the 2018 draft: Gunner Shubert (Gonzaga University) and Tristan Pompey (University of Kentucky). For that reason, they are a few years older than the others—22 and 21 years old, respectively. The table also shows that four of those four players were selected by the Marlins in the earliest rounds of the draft: center fielder Connor Scott in the first round, catcher Will Banfield in competitive balance round B, shortstop Osiris Johnson in round two, and left fielder Tristan Pompey in round 3. In the 2018 draft, the competitive balance round B (CB-B) took place between rounds 2 and 3. That made Will Banfield the 69th overall pick in the draft. Not shown in the table is that each of those four players has become a top ranked prospect of the Miami Marlins in their most recent MLB Top 30 Prospects update: Scott (#4), Banfield (#7), Johnson (#13), and Pompey (#16).
The promotion of those players offers an interesting late season opportunity for fans of the Greensboro Grasshoppers and Miami Marlins. That is, a chance to see a few of the newest top prospects of the Marlins play in games at the full-season class A level with the Grasshoppers at their home ballpark, First National Bank Field in Greensboro, NC.
Note from the table that Connor Scott, Osiris Johnson, and Will Banfield were just assigned to the Greensboro roster on August 7th. Since then, they have frequently been in the Grasshoppers starting lineup.
Shortstop Osiris Johnson, who is just 17 years old, was the 53rd overall player selected in the MLB 2018 First Year Player Draft. After signing with Miami and being assigned to the GCL Marlins roster, he took over as their starting shortstop and #2 hitter. On the date that Johnson was promoted to the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Johnson led the GCL Marlins offense in doubles (8—tied with Will Banfield), total bases (46), batting average (.301), slugging percentage (.447), and on-base plus slugging percentage (.780).
In the short stint since joining the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Johnson has played shortstop and typically hit in the middle of their batting order. In five of the six games he appeared, he hit in the number 3 slot and on the other occasion was Greensboro’s leadoff batter. Through Monday August 13th he was batting .273 with 1 home run and 2 runs batted in.
As shown in Figure 1, Connor Scott was the Miami Marlins #1 pick in the 2018 First Year Player Draft. In fact, he was the 13th player selected in the draft. After signing with Miami in early July, Scott joined the GCL Marlins roster and took over as their starting center fielder and leadoff batter. At the point he was promoted to Greensboro, Scott ranked #1 on the Marlins team in runs scored (15) and triples (4).
In the few days since coming on board, Connor Scott has started in center field for the Grasshoppers in six games. The photo in Figure 3 shows Scott at the plate poised to receive a pitch in a game at First National Bank Field in Greensboro, NC. As a table-setter at the top of the Grasshoppers lineup, he has had 5 hits that include 2 doubles. However, he has also reached base on 3 base on balls. At the end of play on August 13th, he was batting .263 with a .364 on-base percentage.
Will Banfield is more of a power hitter than the other two players just highlighted. He finished his 24-game stint as the GCL Marlins catcher typically hitting cleanup or in the #5 slot in their batting order. As mentioned earlier, he was tied with Johnson for the team lead in doubles when he departed for the Greensboro Grasshoppers on August 7th . In the short period he has played at the full-season A class with the Grasshopper, Banfield has had 4 hits, but 3 of them are home runs. The photo of Figure 4 shows Will Banfield taking a swing at a pitch that he hit for a home run in inning 2 of a game versus the Asheville Tourists on August 12th.
On the other hand, the table shows that Tristan Pompey was promoted to the Grasshoppers in early July. Pompey, who was born in Canada, played three seasons of college baseball for the University of Kentucky prior to entering the 2018 draft. He was the 89th overall pick in the draft.
Before being promoted to Greensboro on July 7th, Pompey had only appeared in four games for the GCL Marlins, but was batting .400. That day, he was the Grasshoppers starting right fielder and number 3 hitter. Pompey took over as a regular in their outfield; locked in the #3 slot in their batting order; and got off to a great start at the full-season class A level. Over the next 30 days, he was a leader of Greensboro’s offense. He appeared in 24 games and batted with a .314 average. The photo in Figure 5 shows Tristan Pompey in the Grasshoppers uniform taking a cut at a pitch left-handed in a plate appearance in a home game at First National Bank Field in mid-July.
On August 7th, Tristan Pompey was promoted to the Miami Marlins advanced A class team in the Florida State League—the Jupiter Hammerheads. In his debut with the Hammerheads, Pompey played center and again batted in the number 3 hole. That day he went 2 for 2 with a single and double, and reached base in two other at bats on walks. His hot hitting has continued. As of August 13th, he appeared in 6 games with the Hammerheads and has had 9 hits in just 17 official at-bats for an exceptional .529 batting average.
So there is also a new opportunity for Jupiter Hammerheads and Marlins fans. That is, to catch a Florida State League game in which Miami’s new #16 MLB Top 30 Prospect—outfielder Tristan Pompey—plays at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, FL.