Let’s begin this article with a quick poll. Please be honest: Did you know Héctor Noesí was pitching this season in the Marlins organization?
Did you know Hector Noesí was pitching this season in the Marlins organization?
This poll is closed
At Fish Stripes, we take pride in bringing you thorough coverage from across the Marlins minor league affiliates. However, Noesí has hardly been mentioned since being sent to Triple-A New Orleans out of spring training. He’s up to 119 2⁄3 innings pitched during the regular season, second-most in the entire organization behind only Zac Gallen, while going five-plus frames in all but one of his outings. The Dominican right-hander maintains a 3.61 earned run average in the ultra-hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, allowing barely one baserunner per inning. Nice!
The thing is, Noesí doesn’t fall under the “player development” umbrella—he’s 32 years old. He has more than 100 MLB appearances with four previous franchises. Since signing his first professional contract with the Yankees as a teenager, this journeyman has logged 1,827 1⁄3 career innings; that’s more than Wei-Yin Chen and Dan Straily, and it only falls short of Dontrelle Willis’ total once you account for D-Train’s final act in independent ball.
With fastball velocity that sits from 90-93 miles per hour (below average by MLB standards), Noesí must be precise with his command and unpredictable with his pitch selection. Watch him whiff established big leaguer Matt Carpenter on a well-placed changeup:
He will also expand the zone with his slider and curveball (shown below).
Putting the whole repertoire together, Noesí is striking out 26.5% of opposing batters. That is the highest rate for him at any level of competition in a full decade.
And yet, the Marlins passed over him for the likes of Jordan Yamamoto, Zac Gallen and Elieser Hernandez when they needed starting rotation reinforcements. All three have justified those promotions with above-average performance. Should innings limits threaten their availability down the stretch, Pablo López (right shoulder strain) is progressing toward a mid-August return, while Trevor Richards is lurking in the bullpen. Barring any setbacks, José Ureña (herniated disc) will be in the mix for September starts. And yes, because they’re paying Chen regardless, he continues to linger as another fallback plan.
Miami’s rotation depth has been as good as advertised, if not slightly better. As a result, Noesí is expendable.
Numerous contending teams are seeking starters, most obviously the Yankees, Rays, Phillies, Brewers and Nationals. Supply seems to be an issue, though. Aside from Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Rangers) and Zack Wheeler (Mets), it’s unclear who they can trust for quality innings among the available arms.
Noesí, of course, does not belong in the same paragraph as them. The 2019 peripherals challenge the notion that he’s been a Triple-A ace; his xFIP (4.61) is a full run higher than his ERA, accounting for his vulnerability to the home run ball and unsustainable strand rate (87.4 LOB%). That being said, the durability is there—he averaged more than 200 innings internationally from 2016-2018.
Operating as deadline sellers without any high-profile trade chips, the Marlins should be determined to continue bolstering their farm system in creative ways. They can leverage Noesí’s consistency and affordability—prorated $800,000 salary if on an active roster—and the lack of alternatives on the market.
A best-case scenario for the Fish? Receiving international bonus slot money in return (traded in $250,000 increments). Thinking more creatively, maybe they seek a player to be named later whose identity is contingent on how many MLB starts Noesí makes for his new team down the stretch.
No need to rush. As a minor leaguer without a 40-man spot, Noesí is actually exempt from Wednesday’s 4:00 p.m. ET deadline. He can be moved at any point in August and still be eligible for the postseason.
Marlins fans are understandably encouraged about the direction of the franchise, but they shouldn’t accept complacency during this critical time of year. Every seemingly marginal move serves a purpose in this ascension to relevance.