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5 under-the-radar Marlins prospects

Which Marlins prospects are being overlooked heading into the 2019 season?

Via Pelota Cubana

Exciting as it is to see top prospect lists released around this time of year, they don’t encapsulate the organization’s full talent pool. On one end, it allows for fans to better understand who the next major league stars may be, but it also diverts from other, lesser known prospects that deserve praise. Every team has “gems” that are either hidden deep in the rankings, or left off entirely.

The following five position player prospects do not get spoken nearly enough about, but Marlins fans would be wise to keep track of them throughout the minor league campaign.

1. OF Davis Bradshaw

Age: 20 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 175

Scouting Report (Present/Future Value): Hit: 50/55 | Power: 35 | Speed: 55 | Field: 50 | Arm: 45

Bradshaw’s progression through the Marlins system will depend primarily on his plus ability as a runner and his average-to-plus hitting tool. Although we should not expect much pop from Bradshaw’s bat, there may be hidden pull ability revealed as he develops and fills out his frame. Defensively, he has had time across all three outfield positions, but will likely end up as a corner outfield option for the long term.

Player Profile

Coming out of high school, there was no question that Bradshaw could make his way around the base paths, but his ability to carry a bat to the next level was in question. Originally drafted by the Brewers (35th round in 2017), Bradshaw decided to attend Meridian Community College instead of signing a pro deal. One year later, the gamble paid off, as he was drafted in the 11th round and signed by the Marlins.

In his first year of pro ball, he opened eyes with his speed, but most importantly, with his ability to hit pro pitching. Bradshaw’s performance caught the attention of Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, who labeled Bradshaw as the “Best Pure Hitter” of Miami’s 2018 MLB Draft class (subscription required). Recall that Connor Scott is a part of this draft class as well, and that alone will tell you all you need to know about Bradshaw and why he is my first option for underrated Marlins prospects.

Future Value: 45/50

Bradshaw is on track for an MLB ETA of approximately 2022. At the MLB level, Bradshaw profiles as a potential fourth outfielder, with the possibility of developing into an everyday corner outfielder. If Bradshaw shows that his first-year ability to swing the bat was not a fluke, then you can adjust that ceiling accordingly. Davis Bradshaw: a player you should keep an eye on.

2. 1B/OF Lazaro Alonso

Age: 23 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 220

Scouting Report (Present/Future Value): Hit: 45/50 | Power: 55/60 | Speed: 40 | Field: 45 | Arm: 45

Alonso’s loudest tool is his raw power from the left side of the plate; if he makes it to the majors, it will be on the back of said power production. Scouts are hesitant that his raw power will translate into game power, due to below average to average bat speed—as well as difficulty with secondaries—but when Alonso makes contact, the impact is impressive.

Defensively, Alonso is not limited to first base, as he has shown an ability to man the corner outfield spots. That being said, first base would be his best position at the Major League level.

Player Profile

Signed as an international free agent from Cuba on Sept. 5, 2016, Alonso immediately impressed with his physical presence and ability to pull the ball for power. Scouts often compare his frame to that of a football player, and at 6-3 and north of 220 pounds, the comparison is valid.

However, he is more “big frame” than a big athlete; he does not yet show the agility that would allow for full versatility at the MLB level. Of note, Alonso has received the reputation of being “a gamer” as he performs better on the diamond than in showcases. Nonetheless, showcases should be behind him, and he’ll be promoted because of what he brings to the field, not the batting cages.

Future Value: 45/50

The Marlins farm system is lacking first base talent; this is not breaking news for anyone. Alonso could very well become the answer to that dilemma. Although limitations exists, I would imagine that the Marlins brass would salivate at the idea of a left-handed slugger of Cuban descent playing at Marlins Park. The Marlins will not keep him around because of his heritage alone, but the hope is that his bat does enough to make that decision easy.

3. OF Brian Miller

Age: 23 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 186

Scouting Report (Present/Future Value): Hit: 55/60 | Power: 45 | Speed: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 45+

Brian Christopher Miller knows how to hit a baseball. The 60 hit tool is not a typo, nor is it bias—it is a validated grade across scouts, even some of our analytically driven colleagues at Fangraphs agree. Although power will never likely be a part of Miller’s profile at the plate, his approach, ability to make solid contact, and plus-plus speed has been more than enough to compensate. Defensively, Miller projects as an average outfielder, who may be able to stick at center, thanks to his range and good recognition of trajectory off the bat. Players tend to run on his arm, and he has yet to prove that they should not.

Prospect Profile

Drafted as the 36th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Miller has worked his way through the Marlins system in a hurry. In just two years of pro ball, he has positioned himself in a spot to start the 2019 campaign in AA or AAA. He could challenge for a call-up to Miami by season’s end. Miller has one of the safest floors in the Marlins system, which bodes well for his chances of becoming a successful pro baseball player.

Future Value: 50+

Miller was drafted because he can hit, he has hit thus far, and predict that he will continue to hit, possibly all the way to Marlins Park and as soon as September 2019. Miller’s hit tool is amongst the best in the Marlins system, and the track record shows he can perform across levels and different modalities of pitching.

4. 1B Sean Reynolds

Age: 20 | Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 237

Scouting Report (Future Value): Hit: 40+ | Power: 70+ | Speed: 50 | Field: 50 | Arm: 45+

Only 20 years of age, Reynolds is the perfect example of what a “hit or miss” prospect looks like. A fourth-round pick in 2016, the Marlins selected Reynolds for his immense power and surprisingly athletic built. With age being a primary factor in his inclusion for this list, the Marlins hope that his hitting tool develops with more time in the system.

Prospect Profile

Reynolds’ raw power is legit. Scouting sites such as 2080 Baseball do not give 80-grade tools lightly, yet Reynolds receives that distinction. The Marlins saw that power in display throughout the 2018 minor league season, as Reynolds smacked 17 home runs in only 270 at-bats. When Reynolds hits the ball, it typically does not land in the playing field. However, Reynolds misses more often than he should. Striking out a staggering 42% of his at-bats in 2018 is a number that will stunt any promotions throughout the system. In the age of the three true outcomes, Reynolds takes it to the extreme. He will strike out, hit a home run, or draw the occasional walk, and...not much of anything else.

Future Value: 45+

The more optimistic reports have Reynolds one day becoming a similar player to the Orioles’ Chris Davis; immense power, but limitations across the other tools. Baseball is slowly but surely moving away from these types of hitters, but there may be hope for Reynolds. If the designated hitter makes its way to the National League, then suddenly a homer-happy prospect that smashes balls from the left side could find his way to Marlins Park.

Additionally, we must remember the age factor. If Reynolds can develop his approach at the plate, then who is to say that the K% cannot dip by the time he is 24 or so? There is no doubt that this is a project for Miami who’s worth a few (hundred) strikeouts because of the extraordinary quality of contact.

5. SS/2B Walner Espinal

Age: 18 | Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 170

Scouting Report (Future Value): Hit: 45/50 | Power: 45 | Speed: 55 | Field: 55+ | Arm: 50

Espinal’s age and limited exposure to pro pitching yields significant variability in assigning grades. While understanding the limitations of projecting Espinal, his brief pro ball performances have flashed average to plus tools with both the glove and bat. A tendency to pull the ball, the teenager currently uses his speed to help him compensate for what he loses with power and field distribution. Additionally, his splits are also intriguing, as he enjoys hitting against lefties (.320/.333/.600). Defensively, Espinal was signed as a shortstop, but spent most of his time with the Marlins at second. He profiles as above average at second, and fringe-average at short.

Prospect Profile

Espinal was signed as an international free agent as a part of the 2016 IFA class. From the Dominican Republic, he originally showcased as a glove-first shortstop, with quick hands at the plate. Nonetheless, the Marlins have consistently played him at second, and briefly at third, where he seemed unable to field the ball cleanly. Espinal has only reached the rookie ball level, but look for the Marlins to be receptive to his promotion in this upcoming year.

Future Value: 45+

Espinal is one of those rare young prospects that has shown enough flashes to elicit excitement. With that being said, his age and level of development are reasons to tread cautiously with projections moving forward. Of all the players listed, Espinal carries relatively high risk, but may also have one of the higher ceilings. An athletic middle infielder with potential pop to develop and a solid glove is not easy to find.

Who are your under-the-radar prospects for this Miami system? Let me know in the comments below!