Our new monthly segment “Who is next?” aims to provide updates on prospects whose big league promotion may be on the horizon. Particularly for a fanbase in a rebuild, these monthly updates will provide a glimpse of where the hope for the future lies.
These articles will be divided into three groups, each including one pitching and one position player—and several honorable mentions—who fit the following descriptions:
Almost here—Prospects who fans can comfortably anticipate seeing at Marlins Park within this season.
More time needed—Prospects who have a chance at getting a call-up within the campaign, but are more likely to be 2020 promotions.
Past the horizon—Prospects who are unlikely to get promoted this year, but remain worth monitoring due to performance or roster variables.
All stats updated entering April 17.
SP Zac Gallen (2 GS, 13.0 IP, 0.69 ERA, 0.23 WHIP, 19 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 1 ER)
Roster Resource puts together a Top 200 MiLB Power Rankings, dedicated to ranking prospects by performance rather than “prospect hype” or Top 100 designations. Their most recent list was released this previous week, and a familiar face is ranked #1 overall.
Updated #MiLB Top 200 Power Rankings (thru April 12th): https://t.co/ppqR1OKoEP— Jason Martinez (@mlbdepthcharts) April 13, 2019
1. Zac Gallen, SP #JuntosMiami
2. Grayson Rodriguez, SP #Birdland
3. Enyel De Los Santos, SP #RingTheBell
4. Luis Robert, OF #WhiteSox
5. Devin Smeltzer, SP #MNTwins pic.twitter.com/NJkG3me0wl
After an impressive Spring Training, Gallen has been near-perfect to start off his 2019 campaign. While nice to see Gallen receiving national praise for his excellent work, this should not come as a surprise to those that follow the Marlins closely. Leaving camp, Gallen was rightfully deemed by many at Fish Stripes as the first pitching call-up, if a spot is ever needed; his performance thus far has backed that up.
Whether via trade or injury, when an opening occurs at the pro rotation, it would be a shock if Gallen does not receive the call.
OF Magneuris Sierra (11 G, .326/.396/.419, 14 H, 4 2B, 2 RBI, 8 K, 4 BB)
A young prospect that way too many people seemingly gave up on, Sierra is showing what he can do when he is placed in the correct developmental level. Both the Cardinals and Marlins seemed rushed to have Sierra’s defense at the pro-level, while not accepting that his bat was not ready.
Now at the correct developmental level for his age and build, Sierra is showing the Marlins organization what made him special as a prospect, contact/speed combo and defensive ability.
My personal opine would be to let Sierra stay in the minors the entire year, with an eta of 2020 being more than fair. However, he is included in the “almost here category” due to the anemic offensive outfield at Marlins Park and his 40-man roster spot.
Note: Both of these selections were returns in the Marcell Ozuna trade. It’s almost like grading trades before the prospects develop is unreasonable!
Honorable Mentions: SP Jordan Yamamoto (2 GS, 10 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 13 K, 3 BB, 5 H, 2 ER), SP Nick Neidert (2 GS, 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 7 K, 6 BB, 8 H, 4 ER), and OF Harold Ramírez (11 G, 40 AB, .250/.286/.350, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 9 K, 1 BB)
More Time Needed
SP Jorge Guzman (2 GS, 11 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12 K, 5 BB, 8 H, 3 ER)
Guzman’s age-23 season will make or break his case as a legitimate starting pitcher prospect. At the time of the Yankees’ trade, he was a Top 100 prospect with one of the best fastballs in baseball; a future top-of-the-rotation arm for the Marlins. However, his 2018 campaign rightfully gave voice to the scouts that previously questioned his ability to stay in a starting staff, and added weight to the buzz words “reliever risk.”
Guzman is off to a good start at silencing the skeptics. While his K/BB ratio is improved, the true hope comes from those that have seen him pitch in-person. “Electricity is back” and “[he] knows where the ball is going” are two recent scouting notes.
If Guzman sticks as a starter, it goes a long way towards the Marlins rebuilding plans.
OF Víctor Víctor Mesa (10 G, .268/.295/.268, 11 H, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 6 K, 2 BB)
Mesa had not seen live professional pitching in over one and a half years; it showed early on, as he started the 2019 campaign 1-for-17.
And then something clicked. Maybe it was the rust resolving, or his timing—which was understandably off—coming into focus, but the No. 1 prospect from the 2018-19 international free agent class started making contact. A lot of it. He has recorded four multi-hit games in his last 6 games played (.416 AVG), and has played a flawless center field throughout.
The key to Mesa? In an organization filled with high k-rates, Mesa is the exception. His 13.5 K% is amongst the best in the organization, and that is including his 1-for-17 start. It is still early, but aside from his rough first week in professional American baseball, Mesa is everything he was advertised to be. He may not make it to Marlins Park this year, but he is gradually resembling the long-term, everyday starting center fielder that the Fish invested $5.25 million to sign.
Honorable Mentions: SP Jordan Holloway (2 GS, 9 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11 K, 7 BB, 2 H, 2 ER), SP Will Stewart (2 GS, 13.1 IP, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 11 K, 5 BB, 5 H, 2 ER), and INF Justin Twine (11 G, .293/.333/.415, 12 H, 1 HR, 1 3B, 5 RBI, 14 K, 3 BB, 1 SB).
Past the Horizon
SP Trevor Rogers (3 GS, 15.2 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12 K, 5 BB, 18 H, 5 ER)
Rogers is starting to look like the highly respected prep arm that was selected with the 13th overall pick in 2017. Baseball America, in a preseason special, called Trevor Rogers and Braxton Garrett “two aces in the hole” for the Marlins organization.
Coming off a 2018 where he was the victim of an inflated .398 BABIP, the tall lefty has taken some control of his destiny by inducing more weak contact.
Rogers will not be called up to the majors this year, and possibly not even in 2020, but his trajectory remains a top of the rotation piece.
OF Jerar Encarnación (11 G, .435/.490/.717, 20 H, 3 HR, 4 2B, 13 RBI, 16 K, 4 BB, 2 SB)
As if there was any other option in play here?
If Encarnación was a well-known prospect, rather than an indiscrete international signing for the Marlins, he would be getting a Juan Soto (pre-call up) type of helium and celebration right now. The 21 year-old is currently not just the best hitting prospect in the Marlins organization, but arguably in all of baseball. His OPS of 1.208 tells you all you need to know, but if it doesn’t, then find yourself some Clinton LumberKings highlights and enjoy!
Signed as an international free agent in 2015, Encarnación is developing into a hidden gem, that has diamond written all over him. If you are skeptical that this is a small sample size issue, take a glance at his age 19 and 20 slash in short season (.284/.305/.448), which was his first experience outside of rookie ball.
Encarnacion is good, and no one seems to know it yet.
SS José Devers (10 G, .326/.356/.395, 14 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB, 8 K, 0 BB)
The 19-year-old prospect who many believe is the future at shortstop for the Marlins, is off to a scorching start in Jupiter. Devers is a glove-first middle infielder, whose bat has suddenly arrived. Acquired from the Yankees in the Stanton trade, he is now showing the tools that once made him a top international signing in the Yankees system.
Clear risk factors remain in his development, such as an inability to walk, but his contact rate and speed have compensated. If Devers can complement his existing positive attributes with added plate discipline, he suddenly becomes an incredibly enticing piece at short.
(Devers landed on the 7-day injured list Tuesday with a groin strain, but expect him to pick up right where he left off upon returning.)
Honorable Mentions: SP Chris Vallimont (3 GS, 17 IP, 1.25 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 19 K, 4 BB, 10 H, 3 ER), SP Josh Roberson (2 GS, 10.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 13 K, 4 BB, 10 H, 0 ER), and INF James Nelson (11 G, .256/.283/.419, 11 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB, 5 K, 2 BB).