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Justin Twine and the Marlins 2014 MLB draft class

So far, it’s been Brian Anderson and a bunch of suspects. Twine is trying to change that with a recent hit barrage since his promotion to Double-A Jacksonville.

Justin Twine infield single (July 24, 2018)

Many fans have embraced #FishTankSZN. As the Marlins struggle on the field (46-66 entering Sunday), the consolation will be access the best amateur players in 2019.

Draft position is determined by the reverse standings. In recent years, the franchise has been stuck in the middle—pursuing a postseason berth without the organizational depth, and finishing near the middle of the pack where it’s more difficult to address that lack of depth. This ought to be an ugly yet necessary change.

However, the 2014 draft is a reminder that sucking guarantees nothing. Coming off a 100-loss campaign, the Marlins held rights to the No. 2 overall pick and six of the top 107, plus the second pick in all subsequent rounds.

It looks like they may have squandered that opportunity.

Returning to the mound recently after yet another injury setback, first-rounder Tyler Kolek is a punchline. He heads down the stretch of his age-22 season with nearly as many career walks (92) as strikeouts (104). Zero members of the 2014 class are represented in MLB Pipeline’s recently updated Marlins top 30 list. Only two have any major league service time: Dillon Peters and Brian Anderson, who saves this group from total embarrassment. Aside from Peters, there are no other candidates for a September call-up.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays
Marlins don’t have much to show for their 2014 draft haul outside of NL Rookie of the Year hopeful Brian Anderson.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Which brings us back to Justin Twine. This is not one of my big prospect profiles, but Twine might be worth a deeper dive next month if this keeps up.

It’s not clear what earned him a promotion to Double-A in the first place. Twine entered 2018 in somewhat of a utility role for High-A Jupiter, getting the lion’s share of his playing time at third base in April and May while James Nelson recovered from knee surgery. He also dabbled at the middle infield spots and gained his first experience in left field.

Unfortunately, as has always been Twine’s issue in the pros, he simply wasn’t producing at the plate. He owned a .235/.276/.354 line through 70 games with Jupiter, closely resembling his .242/.278/.333 performance the year before. Overall, the Falls City, Texas native is among the most overly aggressive hitters in Marlins organization history (career 3.7 BB%). He fails to demonstrate the power to make it tolerable.

Twine was assigned to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp on July 19. There was no big announcement; they just needed a warm body because Isan Diaz—club’s No. 8 prospect, per MLB Pipeline—got the call to Triple-A.

Then a funny thing happened: Twine started to rake. He’s at .404/.444/.579, having reached base in all 15 games played. Outfielder Austin Dean was in that same territory through the first few weeks of the season before jumping up a level.

The peripherals don’t really support the results. Twine’s strikeout and walks rates are consistent with his (bad) career norms, and the .538 BABIP is completely unsustainable. But I’d like to take this moment to put his career in perspective.

Drafted out of high school, Twine is actually the same age as Joe Dunand (turning 23 this fall). The former second-rounders are playing regularly together at Double-A and Twine has been far more effective. Dunand still has hope of sticking at shortstop (Twine doesn’t), but all of a sudden, we must consider the possibility that both might taste the big leagues someday.

It should be a fascinating next few months for Twine. With a strong August, why not test him further in the Arizona Fall League? And depending on how that goes, do the Marlins need to protect him? Finishing his fourth full professional campaign, Twine could be snatched by another team in the Rule 5 draft this December if not squeezed onto the 40-man roster.

These would be good problems to have. Previous management probably erred by selecting Twine in 2014 while fellow prep prospect Alex Verdugo was still on the board. But at this point, it’s in everybody’s best interest to salvage whatever they can from his career.