In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline this past Wednesday, Marlins executives openly told the press that they would not be afraid to tap into their young pitching depth, the undeniable strength of the organization if it allowed them to acquire power bats and improve the long-term outlook of their offense.
It turns out that they weren’t kidding. Over three separate trades, Miami said goodbye to rookie starter Zac Gallen, relievers Sergio Romo, Nick Anderson, and the converted Trevor Richards, as well as High-A pitcher Chris Vallimont. In return, they received two MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects, outfielder Jesus Sánchez and shortstop Jazz Chisholm, and first base prospect Lewin Díaz.
Of all the players shipped out, Romo was the only one who did not have a potentially lengthy Marlins career ahead of him—he was a pending free agent. With Gallen and Vallimont gone and the addition of the three highly touted prospects, the makeup of the future of the organization has continued its dramatic shift that started with the draft less than two months ago.
The current MLB Pipeline Top 30 prospects list breakdown is as follows:
Right-handed pitchers: 8
Left-handed pitchers: 3
Hitters now outnumber pitchers, 19-11. Have the Marlins gone from one extreme to another when it comes to organizational depth, putting the future success of the franchise in jeopardy?
In short, no. They’ve simply prioritized the quality of their pitching depth over quantity.
The Marlins believe that promising futures in the starting rotation lie ahead of Sixto Sánchez, Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett, and Trevor Rogers. Most scouts do, too, as their ceilings are all projected to be mid-rotation or better. Add these names into the mix with Sandy Alcantara, Jordan Yamamoto, Pablo López, and Caleb Smith, and consistently competitive starting pitching could be covered for Miami for the next decade.
The futures of Miami's top hitting prospects are far less certain, however, mainly due to the organization's tendency to target tools and athleticism over proven results at the plate. JJ Bleday has the polished college background and Isan Díaz has looked liked a stud for the past three months or so at Triple-A, but Monte Harrison, and the newly-acquired Jesús Sánchez and Chisholm (as well as Lewin Díaz) all have big question marks hanging over them; combinations of injuries, high strikeout rates, and struggles consistently putting the ball in play. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs went into further detail about this pattern of the Marlins front office preferring high-upside hitters over “safer” picks with better minor league stats.
Two paragraphs from FanGraphs latest article that perfectly highlights my feelings on the trade.— Danny Martinez (@DannyM_MIA) August 1, 2019
It’s 50/50 for me. Gallen is safer. Jazz can be better, much better. If Jazz fails, clearly it hurts. If he doesn’t, you have potentially one of the next star SS in MLB pic.twitter.com/avAXpa9Riw
Harrison looked to be turning a corner before he had wrist surgery a few weeks ago, and do not forget that Isan Díaz also suffered from the same issues when he arrived in Miami. The Marlins will have to work similar magic on the new arrivals and move the franchise closer to championship contention.