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Who is next? (June 2019 Edition)

Top prospects at Triple-A are making strong cases for a promotion to Miami, plus hit machine Brian Miller has found consistency in Jacksonville.

MLB.com

“Who is next?” continues to provide updates on Marlins prospects whose big league promotions may be on the horizon. Particularly for a fanbase in a rebuild, these monthly articles provide a glimpse of where the hope for the future lies.

Prospects are divided into three groups, each including one pitcher 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.

Almost Here

Jordan Yamamoto, a selection in last month’s article, was recently promoted, and seemed incredibly comfortable in his first big league start. Nevertheless, some believe that the following selection should have been the call-up instead...

SP Zac Gallen (14 GS, 91.1 IP, 1.77 ERA, 112 K, 17 BB, 0.71 WHIP)

MiLB.com

A repeat recipient of this honor, Gallen is no longer just waiting outside the door—he’s ramming against it with his full body weight. A newly designated Top 100 prospect by Baseball America, Gallen has done everything asked of him, all while in a notoriously hitter-friendly league. The most encouraging sign for the 23-year-old? His fastball velocity has seen an uptick this year, sitting in the mid-90’s, and touching 97 MPH on occasion.

When a 40-man roster spot opens up, and the Marlins feel comfortable with Gallen being a mainstay in the rotation—either via trade or injury of someone currently on staff—look for Zac Gallen to debut and not look back.

With the news of José Ureña (herniated disc) being placed on the 60-day IL, this may open the door for Gallen’s promotion; Jordan Yamamoto could be optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move to earn his first experience at that level.

2B Isan Díaz (.291/.378/.540, 14 HR, 29 XBH, 42 RBI, 22.1 K%, 9.9 BB%)

The native Puerto Rican was an honorable mention in the previous installment of this series. He continues to boost his stock, entering Saturday riding a 15-game hitting streak.

With Monte Harrison spending the past three weeks on the injured list (he returned to NOLA on Friday), and thanks to a scorching previous month of production (.358/.429/.726, 10 HR, 18 XBH, 24 RBI), Díaz takes full hold of the top spot.

Díaz’s rise to Marlins Park is currently blocked by Starlin Castro. However, one could estimate that either via a trade, or the Marlins wanting to see Diaz at the major league level, his promotion should occur prior to the end of this season.

One of the top second base prospects in baseball, Díaz is ready regardless of when that phone finally rings.

Honorable Mentions: OF Monte Harrison, OF Magneuris Sierra, and SP Robert Dugger

More Time Needed

SP Jorge Guzman (72.1 IP, 3.73 ERA, 61 K, 38 BB, 1.31 WHIP)

The flamethrower is still working on his control, but has limited damage thus far in 2019. Guzman is beginning to show signs of his impressive 2017 season with the Yankees, albeit while struggling to strike out hitters at the same pace. In his first Double-A experience, his BB/9 and HR/9 are down from his previous campaign, but his K/9 has also declined against advanced hitters.

What role the Marlins ultimately envision for Guzman is unclear, but they are keeping all options on the table as he’s on pace to set a new career high in innings pitched.

The weak contact and ability to limit damage are encouraging signs. That being said, difficulties missing bats—especially the third time through an opposing lineup—may curtail his ceiling moving forward.

OF Brian Miller (.280/.333/.369, 1 HR, 16 XBH, 26 RBI, 11 SB, 16.6 K%, 7.3 BB%)

Every time I write anything on Brian Miller, I find myself saying the same thing: Brian Miller can absolutely hit the baseball.

In a farm system lacking pure hit tools, Miller is the exception. Currently fourth in hits among all Marlins minor leaguers, he continues validating my praise. Over the last month, his slash of .318/.381/.393 speaks to the player he can be—good-to-great plate discipline and contact rate, with minimal power production.

A stereotypical leadoff hitter, look for Brian Miller to get a shot at being the Marlins’ table setter no later than September of this year.

Honorable Mentions: INF Justin Twine, SP Sixto Sánchez, and RP Dylan Lee

Past the Horizon

Edward Cabrera could easily be selected as a repeat selection; he continues to dominate the Florida State League, and should be considered a promotion candidate to Double-A soon. However, for the sake of diversity, the following selection is presented...

SP Jordan Holloway (10 GS, 44.2 IP, 2.62 ERA, 51 K, 30 BB, 1.23 WHIP)

Holloway’s production and development is one of the more welcomed stories of the Marlins minor league system. A high 90’s fastball and power curve has always been Holloway’s bread and butter, but his tools have not always generalized to success with K/BB and limiting opposing damage.

This year has been different, as he is putting up a career high K/9 and has only allowed 13 earned runs over 10 starts. If he can continue limiting his walks, Holloway is on pace to being another bullet in the chamber of quality arms within the Marlins system.

SS Demetrius Sims (.298/.403/.470, 6 HR, 16 XBH, 21 RBI, 10 SB, 28.6 K%, 11.1 BB%)

A personal favorite, Sims was recently promoted to Jupiter, where he continued his hot start to the 2019 season. Hitting .306/.395/.639 since his promotion, the brother of former Dolphins tight end Dion Sims, has opened eyes both internally and outside of the organization.

Sims is likely 1-2 years away from big league consideration, but at age 23 and hitting at this rate, he could become an under-the-radar candidate at short for the Marlins long term. His continued work on cutting down his K% potentially accelerates his trajectory as we look toward the 2020 season. A promotion to Double-A Jacksonville could be in line.

Honorable Mentions: 1B Lázaro Alonso, OF Jerar Encarnación, INF Bubba Hollins, SP Braxton Garrett, SP Trevor Rogers, SP Alberto Guerrero, SP Chris Vallimont, and P CJ Carter