Major League Baseball offers fans something that no other professional league can: a clear vision of the future. All you have to do is look at a franchise’s minor league affiliates.
Spoiler: The Marlins’ future is bright!
Of course, there will be free agent additions, and newly drafted players who rise more quickly than expected. But for the most part, the next 3-5 years of Miami Marlins baseball is already in the organization. Somewhere in the layers of talent and newfound depth of the system are the building blocks for success in Miami.
Some may already be at the big league level, but today, we focus specifically on the 2019 minor league rosters, highlighting players to keep an eye on at each full-season affiliate, then selecting a few who may receive promotions throughout the year.
The #13 overall farm system in baseball, per Baseball America, the Marlins haven’t had this much developing talent since José Fernández was a prospect. That makes this article a longer—and hopefully, more interesting—read than you’re used to!
Clinton LumberKings (Low-A)
Who to keep an eye on?
The Low-A pitching staff will be overshadowed by the absurdly talented pitching staffs discussed later on, but this should not take away from the upside located in Iowa. Carter, Vallimont, and Mejia are all young pitching prospects with exciting ceilings, who may pitch their way to High-A by the year’s end.
Picking one of the three to open eyes in 2019 is a difficult task, but I believe that C.J. Carter will be the one to take that step. Carter had an impressive 2018, striking out 38 batters in just over 29 innings pitched.
The recent injury to SS Osiris Johnson dampens the offensive power available in Clinton, but the 2018 draft class remains well-represented by Scott and Banfield. The Marlins instituted an aggressive approach with their most recent draft class, allowing for early promotions throughout the system; 2019 will be the first opportunity to see if this approach pays dividends.
In addition to the draft class, I’d expect to see a good uptick in production from Torres, whose value within the organization rises significantly with Johnson’s injury.
Who gets promoted to High-A mid-year? Carter and Torres
Alex Carver of Fish on the Farm breaks down the roster in further detail:
Jupiter Hammerheads (High-A)
Who to keep an eye on?
This is the best rotation in all of minor league baseball, full stop. Excited as we are about the #BabyFacedAces already at Marlins Park (i.e. López, Richards, Smith, and Alcantara), they may not stack up talent-wise to these Hammerheads. From No. 1 to No. 5, the High-A affiliate will features prospects with top-of-the-rotation ceilings and plus pitches.
If you are within driving distance of Jupiter, make sure you go see these kids take the mound; the chances are high that you won’t regret it.
Did I forget to mention? Their rotation isn’t the only reason that the Jupiter Hammerheads should be the favorites to win their league. Their bats and defense will also be yielding significant talent on a nightly basis. The ceiling of Mesa is well documented, but the surrounding talent is what will solidify this roster. Prospects like Nelson, Devers, and Pompey can steal the show with their own tools, particularly Devers, who is currently pegged as the Marlins’ best hope for an internal long-term option at shortstop.
Keep an eye on Jupiter—they’re the brightest of the brightest in the Miami system.
Who gets promoted to Double-A mid-year? Stewart and Mesa
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Double-A)
Who to keep an eye on?
Want to know when your farm system has talent? Answer: when a rotation including Sixto Sánchez, Jorge Guzman, and Jordan Yamamoto is even not the best staff in the organization. The Marlins consensus #1 prospect in the organization, Sánchez will begin the year in extended Spring Training, but is expected to join the Jumbo Shrimp in a matters of weeks.
Following him will be two other pieces acquired via trade, Guzman and Yamamoto. While many scouts believe Guzman will eventually find a home as a potentially dominant closer, rather the starting pitcher, the Marlins are presently focused on allowing Guzman to develop as a Starter. Consider this: Yamamoto was arguably the best minor league pitcher for the Marlins last year, and yet...many would consider him the #3 in Jacksonville.
“Layers of talent.”
Sierra is finally assigned to the level he should be at after being hastily promoted by the Cardinals and Marlins the previous two summers. Some forget how young he is, turning 23 this weekend. The speedster still has ample time to hone his tools, and the club will give him more than enough at bats to do just that against Double-A pitching.
A 2018 Arizona Fall League participant, Brigman will also get a strong look at Double-A, while Miller and his advanced hit tool seems destined for a 2019 late-season major league call-up. Similar to Jupiter, fans should come to the ballpark for the tantalizing rotation, and stay for the position player talent.
Who gets promoted to Triple-A or MLB mid-year? Yamamoto, Beggs, and Miller
New Orleans Baby Cakes (Triple-A)
Who to keep an eye on?
I would not blame you, if after seeing the previous pitching staffs, you felt a tad underwhelmed with the Triple-A arms. However, I would caution you to not overlook how impactful these three highlighted arms may be. Eveld profiles as the future closer of the Marlins upcoming core if Guzman remains a starter, while Neidert—often compared to the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks—is fresh off of a stellar 2018 campaign that earned him a 2018 mid-year Top 100 designation from Baseball America.
You then add the impressive 2019 Spring Training that Zac Gallen produced, and the result is a talented pitching staple in Triple-A.
— Danny (@all_right_Miami) March 1, 2019
Isan Diaz’ swing really is something special man!!!! pic.twitter.com/CwWTiqkleb
You will be coming to New Orleans for the bats, and intermittently enjoying the pitching. With top prospects Díaz and Harrison promoted to Triple-A after departing Spring Training, the Baby Cakes offer fans a glimpse at what the future middle of the order may look like in Little Havana. Additionally, the trio of Dean, Guerrero, and Ramírez make for one of the deepest outfields in the minor leagues, capable of providing fireworks on any given night.
The lower levels of the Marlins organization may offer the highest upside of talent, but Triple-A’s talent is knocking on the big league door!
Who gets promoted to MLB mid-year? Neidert and Dean (Díaz and Harrison also remain likely options for promotion, depending on roster construction)
The Marlins organizational depth and talent has been transformed over the last two years. This article would have taken 30 seconds to write in 2017, but now has too many options for promotions and not enough spots for players to highlight.
In a year where the major league team may lose more often than the fanbase would hope for, there will always be meaningful baseball happening down on the farm. We invite you to read and listen to Fish Stripes coverage of these prospects throughout 2019.
2019 MiLB Opening Day Schedule (April 4, 2019)
- Low-A: Clinton vs. Kane County at 7:30 p.m. ET
- High-A: Jupiter vs. Palm Beach at 6:05 p.m. ET
- Double-A: Jackson vs. Jacksonville at 7:05 p.m. ET
- Triple-A: Round Rock vs. New Orleans 8:00 p.m. ET