Baseball America has released their 2019 Prospect Handbook and team-by-team Top 30 rankings. For the first time since José Fernández was a prospect, Marlins fans likely read their section with a smile.
Earlier this month, the Marlins placed as their 13th overall farm system in baseball. That’s encouraging progress considering that the Fish slotted in as the 24th system in 2018 and 29th in 2017.
BA followed that up on Wednesday with their Marlins Top 30 list, elaborating on the most promising individuals on the farm. They also provide projected future lineups, depth charts, and more valuable information that can only be found via Baseball America.
The industry’s go-to resource for talent evaluation, BA is well worth the price of a subscription. The Handbook can be found here. But for those of you without access or the disposable income, Fish Stripes will be consistent with presenting the big takeaways from their analysis on our site.
Try not to obsess over the specific numbers. Instead, think of it as a tiered system that distinguishes between prospects with an overall scouting grade.
Grade 65: This grade is assigned to prospects who are projected to become perennial All-Stars at the major league level. Players in this bracket are compared to current major leaguers such as Manny Machado and Gerrit Cole.
Grade 60: Prospects who are projected to be an occasional All-Star. Comps include George Springer and Edwin Díaz.
Grade 55: First-division regulars are players who are projected to play at a slightly above-average clip, while also having peak years at an even higher level.
Grade 50: Players considered to become solid-average regulars with major league careers consistently contributing to their team. These players are expected to have intermittent 3+ WAR seasons, but mostly maintain league-average production.
RHP Sandy Alcántara, RHP Nick Neidert, RHP Jorge Guzman, RHP Edward Cabrera, 2B Isan Dīaz, C Will Banfield, SS José Devers, LHP Trevor Rogers, LHP Braxton Garrett, SS Osiris Johnson, RHP Jordan Holloway, RHP Matt Givin, and OF Víctor Mesa Jr.
Grade 45: Second-division regulars or platoon players. On the pitching side, think No. 5 starters or lower-leverage relievers. These profiles may yield an occasional 2+ WAR season, but typically produce in the 0-2 range of production.
LHP Will Stewart, OF Brian Miller, OF Tristan Pompey, RHP Jordan Yamamoto, 3B James Nelson, RHP Robert Dugger, SS Joe Dunand, RHP Riley Ferrell, INF Christopher Torres, OF Davis Bradshaw, and 2B Riley Mahan
The Marlins’ farm depth continues to be validated via Baseball America’s rankings. Overall, 17 prospects were assigned a 50 grade or better, more than most other organizations in baseball. Relative to the rest of the National League East, only the powerful Atlanta Braves have a larger population of such players (20). As they continue to add talent to their system, the hope is that these layers at each position will translate into a winning and sustainable core for the future.
Many—including myself—have stated that the next step is focusing on Grade 55/55+ talent. The acquisition of Sixto Sánchez was a good start, as was the signing of Víctor Víctor Mesa. Now, look for the Marlins to aggressively attack the 2019 MLB Draft in June, as they own 3 of the first 46 picks available.
With that being said, there are already young, controllable players on the active roster who would fit that designation had they not recently graduated from prospect status. Brian Anderson, Lewis Brinson, Jorge Alfaro, and potentially Pablo López are all candidates. This is another “layer” to get excited about, and a reminder not to lose patience with them despite mixed results in 2018.
The reality is that no single scout or resource can claim to know what this farm system will yield, or when the Marlins will truly be competitive (2021 has been often projected the beginning of this “window”). But when some of the brightest collective minds in baseball find reason to believe that this is the case, it means that Marlins fans should not have to disguise their optimism.
More detailed Marlins scouting reports on the Baseball America website