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Things We Love to See Season Recap: Marlins Rookies

Reviewing what we saw in the Dominican Summer League, Gulf Coast League and Batavia in 2018.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Miami Marlins
Marlins top 2018 draft pick (No. 13 overall) Connor Scott
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The minor league baseball season has concluded and I am in search of things to do with my life. Now that the things we love to see have been put on halt (for now), it’s time to take a look back at some of the things we loved to see most throughout the 2018 minor league schedule. In this coming series of articles, we’ll go level by level to look at the brightest stars, the biggest surprises, the intriguing little things that you may have missed, as well as some of the guys that we were hoping to see more from this year.

We’re gonna start at the bottom, with the youngest guys in the Marlins system, by taking a look at the top performers across rookie ball in the Marlins system. Now even though some Marlins draft picks have advanced to higher levels of the system (Tristan Pompey, for example, finished the year in Jupiter) I’ll be featuring them in this post because this was the first action they’ve seen in pro ball. Let’s start our rookie recap right there, by taking a look at the main headline of the season.

Top Four Draft Picks Impress, Move Quickly Through the System

A lot of discussion has gone on at all levels about the way the Marlins have progressing young guys through their system this season. It seems the Marlins don’t believe in the standard way guys progress, going level by level on a year to year basis before reaching the biggest stage. Instead the Marlins seem to believe that if a guy is putting up good numbers and seeing good results, there’s no reason in keeping them in a level they’re dominating for too long. They also seem to believe in getting guys through the system as quick as possible, because it will help them develop by facing better competition.

The clearest example of this is the way that the Marlins handled their top four draft picks in the 2018 draft: Connor Scott, Osiris Johnson, Will Banfield, and Tristan Pompey.

All four guys started their seasons in the Gulf Coast League, a short-season development league, and none of them lasted more than 30 games before moving to full season pro ball. In fact, Tristan Pompey only lasted FOUR games in the GCL before being moved to Low-A Greensboro where he spent only 24 games before being moved up again to High-A Jupiter.

Scott, Banfield and Johnson, all draft picks that came straight out of high school, finished their season with Greensboro and project to start there again next season. While their numbers once they moved up may not have been as good as they were in the GCL, there were still lots of signs of development from them once they began facing higher level pitching. Johnson has elite bat speed that generates massive power potential, Scott showed advances in his swing that opened up more power, and Banfield is an elite defensive catcher that showed promise on the offensive side of the ball.

All three should be Top 10 prospects in the system going forward, and have tremendous potential to have great futures in professional baseball.

Pompey, on the other hand, had no trouble with High-A pitching, something to be expected from a guy who was very good against SEC level pitching, and very well could see time in AA Jacksonville next year.

Pompey had a tremendous year across three levels this season and is easily one of the most exciting prospects the Marlins have throughout their system. His development will be incredibly exciting to follow going forward. If 2019 is as good as this year, there’s a very real chance we could see Pompey in the league as early as 2020.

Top Performer: Luis Palacios, P (DSL Marlins)-Palacios is an 18-year-old international signee from Venezuela who was in his 2nd season with the Marlins in 2018. Palacios had an absolutely tremendous year in the Dominican, so much so that he was named the Co-Pitcher of The Year in the Dominican Summer League this season. Palacios was 8-0 in 15 appearances this year (four starts) with a 0.85 ERA, 1.79 FIP (fielding independent pitching) and an 8.76 K/9 (his BB/9 was just 0.57).

It’s hard to know too much about Palacios because of how far away he is, both in his development and geographically, but his numbers the past two years are very promising for his development going forward. There’s a good chance Palacios ends up state side in 2019, and that’s when we’ll know more about what kind of stuff he has and just how good he can be. He’s one of the more intriguing international prospects the Marlins have right now.

Under the Radar Guy: Davis Bradshaw, OF (Batavia Muckdogs)-Bradshaw was the Marlins 11th round pick out of Meridian Community College in Mississippi this season and absolutely tore the cover off the ball across two levels in the Marlins system. Bradshaw is more of a project than the four guys we talked about earlier so there’s a reason he didn’t move as quickly as them, but he actually had better numbers in the GCL than any of them. In 27 games (106 PA), Bradshaw slashed .376/.453/.484 with a 9.4 BB% and an very impressive 12.3 K%, he also added four doubles, 13 RBI and 15 stolen bases. 15 stolen bases in 27 games is absolutely absurd, no matter what level you’re playing at. Bradshaw continued his torrid pace when promoted to Batavia, with a .324/.368/.352 slash line adding 6 RBI and 5 stolen bases in just 19 games. He didn’t spend a lot of time in Batavia so I expect him to start there to begin the season, but don’t be surprised if he moves up to the higher levels of the system if he continues to hit the way he did in 2018.

Guy That Let Us Down: Brayan Hernandez, OF (Batavia Muckdogs)-Hernandez was the headliner in the David Phelps trade with the Mariners at the time of the trade, but with Pablo Lopez’s emergence and Hernandez’s struggles this season, he’s taken a back seat in the deal. Hernandez’s hitting isn’t his headline tool, but he really had a tough time at the plate this season slashing only .215/.282/.342 with only 3 HR, 18 RBI, and 55 K in 52 games.

He was one of the top prospects in the 2014 class so obviously Hernandez has the tools, it’s just going to be about whether he can tap into them going forward. Batavia can be a really tough place for young guys to play in (insert link to article here), and while I’m not blaming Hernandez’s struggles on that completely, it very well could have something to do with it. Hopefully a fresh start in 2019 and a possible change of scenery will get things going back in a positive direction for Hernandez.

These are only a snapshot of the things that we loved to see from Marlins rookies this past season, and there will be plenty more as we continue to follow their development going forward. There will be lots to follow in 2019, and based on their performance in 2018, a lot to look forward to. It’s an exciting time in the Marlins organization, and it all starts at the bottom with the youngest guys that are making an impact.