When you see what could be the Marlins’ 26-man roster, there isn’t guaranteed to be a transcendent star, what people like to label “the face of the franchise.” Other rebuilding teams can point to dynamic all-around players in their farm system who have earned unanimous praise from talent evaluators, like Mike Trout for the Angels once upon a time or Bryce Harper for the Nationals. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays is a more recent example. But entering 2020, you have to scroll down six rows on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 list to find RHP Sixto Sánchez representing the Fish (No. 22 overall).
Miami’s outlook is way different than Chicago’s, San Diego’s and Tampa Bay’s. The White Sox (CF Luis Robert and RHP Michael Kopech) and the Rays (SS Wander Franco and LHP/DH Brendan McKay) have two young guys inside the top 20, while the Padres have the best among starting pitchers (LHP MacKenzie Gore).
However, that doesn’t mean the Marlins are in a bad position. Most teams would like to have their prospect depth—OF JJ Bleday, OF Jesús Sánchez, SS Jazz Chisholm, OF Monte Harrison and RHP Edward Cabrera are all dynamic talents within two years of breaking through to The Show.
Overcoming a lack of surefire Hall of Famers to compete to get back to the postseason in the near future relies on three keys:
- Proper development. They can’t allow themselves to fail with these young pieces. Diagnose the flaws in their game and specialize training/coaching instruction to address them.
- Patience. Prospects are on their way to the bigs and even some of them (as Sixto and Jesús) are expected to debut in 2020, but fans must try not to panic if they don’t perform at a high level right away.
- Advanced and meticulous scouting. Miami must combine the appropriate development with trades or signings that help the team in the long term. Use all available avenues to add more players.
At least for now, their rebuilding process seems to be based on creating a deep roster full of contributors. Soon, the Marlins could put the finishing touch on their core by spending to bring in high-caliber players from free agency or via trades. Baseball doesn’t have one universal formula to guarantee success.
For example, the Rays have a winning record almost every year despite a low payroll. The Yankees, famous for always making noise by signing expensive free agents, changed their mindset and focused on their farm system before splurging on a massive contract again (Gerrit Cole). The Cardinals haven’t had a player among MLB’s top 30 prospects besides Alex Reyes in a while and still compete every season.
When Miami’s promising guys finally make it to the major leagues, they will have much-needed rotation help (Sánchez, Cabrera, etc.) and a good team full of capable, productive men. In the absence of a monstrous 50-homer guy like Giancarlo Stanton or an unhittable pitcher like José Fernández (RIP), everyone must do their job to win.