Marlins fans didn’t have to wait long to see a familiar name on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list during Saturday night’s MLB Network special unveiling. Unfortunately, it was because they counted backwards from 100. Cuban center fielder Víctor Víctor Mesa came in at #99 on Pipeline’s ranking, clocking in as the only Marlin on the newest iteration of their prospects list.
While this may come as a disappointment to some fans, it should be noted that other highly respected publications hold the Marlins system in a bit higher regard on their 2019 preseason lists. For example, Baseball America has Mesa at #60, even before seeing a single pitch in American pro ball. Baseball Prospectus also adds flame-throwing Sandy Alcántara to their fray, setting him and Mesa at #73 and #71, respectively. Up-and-coming site Prospects Live ranks Mesa at #82, and if you venture just outside of their Top 100, you will find outfielder Monte Harrison at #110, starting pitcher Braxton Garrett at #132, and 2b Isan Díaz at #136.
Alcántara joined the Marlins major league rotation down the stretch last season, posting a 3.44 earned run average in 34 innings of work. Harrison and Díaz have been added to the 40-man roster and could make their MLB debuts in 2019. Garrett is coming off Tommy John surgery, but still possesses one of the highest ceilings of any arm in the organization.
Keep in mind, these lists are constantly changing and updating, and there isn’t anything close to one “definitive” prospect list. It’s common practice to do midseason updates, which could look completely different than the current versions.
These publications are also not without their biases. For example, in Pipeline’s profile of Mesa at #99, they mentioned that last offseason’s trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna did not net the Marlins a single Top 100 prospect.
This is some pretty deft sleight of hand on their part. They are basing this statement on their own freshly updated list when referencing trades that took place a full year ago. At the time of the trades and in the period leading up to this Saturday’s update, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Sandy Alcántara, and Isan Díaz have all appeared on different versions of their prospect lists.
MLB Pipeline literally hired a Twitter troll to write the Marlins section of their team-by-team Top 100 list breakdown.— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) January 27, 2019
Left: “Trades from a year ago didn’t produce a single Top 100 Prospect”
Right: Their Lewis Brinson ranking EXACTLY one year ago
Misleading and unprofessional pic.twitter.com/X49rpeCFQP
Pipeline is designed to appeal to the masses, and the popular narrative of the masses regarding the Marlins is that the incompetence of the Jeter-led front office led to lackluster returns in all four deals. Intimating as much in their description of Mesa, they neglected to even mention him in the entire paragraph. Instead, the space is used for a lament of previous Marlins ownership, an indictment of last year’s deals, and a spotlight on the void of top talent they have cultivated over the past several years, while distorting their own details in order to do so. Popular narrative officially enforced.
Many of the other sites employ a more scouting-based approach, and as a result have less of a margin for editorial bias. In my opinion, Baseball America is the gold standard for prospect evaluation, with Baseball Prospectus close behind, and sites such as Fangraphs, Prospects Live and 2080 Baseball also doing really great work to bring as much information to the table as possible.
My intention is not to disparage one source in favor of another, but merely to point out that each publication has its own method of providing content, and it is important for fans of the game not to simply take the most easily accessible source and apply it across the board. If you prefer a more data-driven approach, then you may want to give the Fangraphs prospect board a look. If scouting videos are your thing, then you will probably like BA and 2080.
The one consensus that can be reached across the board is that the Marlins minor league system is in much better condition than it was only a year ago. Next step: adding more top-tier talent (via the 2019 MLB Draft, international free agency, etc.) and further development of the talent that is already there.
The fun part for fans about all of these lists, regardless of your team’s status, is that they always seem to generate some much-needed conversation and debate in what has been a painfully slow and uneventful MLB offseason.
What do you think of Mesa’s placement on these lists, and the evaluation of the Marlins’ system as a whole? Do you agree with Pipeline’s assessment, or do you think someone was unjustly left off the list? I look forward to your feedback, both in the comments and on social media!