We have had the pleasure of watching a number of players make their Marlins debuts this year on the MLB stage. Brinson, Sandy, Pablo, Trevor, Dean and others are just gettin’ started on what we hope will be productive careers.
This September plays a big role in bringing some clarity to where the Marlins are headed. We are going to study a few potential September call-ups that have put themselves under serious consideration for a promotion with excellent 2018 seasons in the high minors.
Brigham is a 26-year-old pitcher that many fans may be familiar with. He’s been mentioned often here on Fish Stripes as well as by MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro as an obvious call-up candidate.
With a fastball that sits from 92-96 mph most times, Brigham has done a solid job this year in Triple-A after dominating in Double-A early on (2.36 ERA, 25.2 K% in 95.1 IP overall). He is somewhat hittable with a .262 BAA, but he shows the makings of a plus slider, as evidenced in the video above.
The right-hander seems to have the feel of a long reliever for the most part as he has a max-effort delivery and he shows struggles in high-leverage situations. He possesses a .279 BAA with RISP w/1 out and it increases to .313 with RISP w/2 outs. His HR rate is up this year, though that may have to do with facing better competition after spending 2017 in High-A.
Despite these question marks, as we dig through the talent pool of pitching options, Brigham has made a convincing audition to join the Marlins for the month of September.
Projection: Low-leverage middle reliever/Long reliever
Quijada is a 22-year-old reliever with the potential to be more than the lefty specialist some have projected.
The diminutive Quijada shows a low leg kick that allows him to quicken up his delivery making it difficult to time and locate the release point of his pitches. He uses this to his advantage as he has held righties and lefties to average below .200.
In contrast to Brigham, Quijada thrives in high-leverage situations with RISP w/1 and w/2 out—BAA of .209 and .122, respectively. His August numbers have been special as he has held all hitters to .132 average and has used his high leverage prowess to save 2 of 3 games successfully for the Baby Cakes.
With youth on his side, there’s reason to believe Quijada is still improving.
Projection: 7th or 8th inning reliever
Mooney, 28, is a career minor leaguer that is still searching for his first taste of the bigs. He has no projection left, but merits a shot at the next level on the strength of impressive production this year. He has hit for more power than ever—.131 ISO—and this is huge considering when his previous high was .094.
Check this out:
Mooney is also a solid-yet-unspectacular fielder. He’s reliable and makes the routine plays.
Despite the fact he is small (like 5-6, 155 pounds small), Mooney presents splits of .297/.369/.438 and would be a good upgrade over Yadiel Rivera. The Marlins have stuck with Rivera because of his positional flexibility, but Mooney is capable of the same without necessarily being an automatic out.
Mooney takes the cake—or should I say, Baby Cake?—in this role.
Projection: Utility infielder/Defensive replacement
O’Brien has run the gamut. Once a highly regarded prospect while with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, he was more recently traded and cut by multiple teams in the same season (2017).
The 28-year-old unleashes tremendous power from his 215-pound frame. It’s a critical development because that size limits his positional inflexibility, so he must compensate with offensive production. His other hurdle had always been strikeouts and he’s made a welcome change in that department since signing with the Marlins organization three months ago. This is an indicator that O’Brien might be getting better with time, like fine wine.
O’Brien has 30 HR in the minors this year in 107 games. That includes 10 HR in Triple-A after just 30 games. Again more importantly, he is commanding the strike zone with an .407 OBP and 1.073 OPS.
If O’Brien is going to see any action for the Marlins down the stretch, it would come at first base. He has committed only 10 errors in 146 minor league games at that position.
Projection: Bench power bat/Power-hitting 1B/OF
Note that none of these four currently have spots on the 40-man roster, so the team probably can’t accommodate all of them right now. But they have certainly boosted their stock moving forward.
To put it plainly, the Marlins have spent the whole season in a de facto “September call-up” mode. It has been frustrating and hopeful all in the same season. Priority #1 for the organization in 2019 must be to increase the quality—not quantity—of prospects through trades.
For now, though, let’s watch and see what could be this September. As the season is approaching its end for most teams, the Marlins have to envision things a little bit differently. September has to be the start of closing the book on the “depth” perspective and opening the book on building the “dynamic” aspect of this organization.