Making the Cut
Given how unreliable the Marlins bullpen was last year and the lack of serious attention to the area this offseason outside of the signings of Yimi García and Brandon Kintzler, it is no surprise that four of the top non-roster invitees to watch this Spring Training for the Marlins are relievers. Alex Vesia and Tommy Eveld are two Marlins prospects who saw their stock move in completely opposite directions in 2019—the former dominated in the low minors and Arizona Fall League, showing future big league closer potential, whereas the latter struggled at Triple-A before slightly rebounding upon his return to Double-A. Then there are Pat Venditte and Aaron Northcraft, two minor league signings with very interesting backgrounds how could turn out to be low-risk, high-reward additions.
Heading into 2020 the bullpen is facing the most questions, and the Marlins will hope that these four can provide some of the answers and make the Opening Day roster.
On the Outside Looking in
A week after the news broke that Monte Harrison lost his MLB Pipeline Top 100 ranking, it has been revealed that he only just missed the cut. Numerous injuries derailed what was shaping up to be a promising season for the outfielder, but he still hit .274 in his first 56 games at Triple-A. If the 24-year-old is able to post similar numbers this season while continuing to cut down his strikeout rate, then a return to the prestigious list is surely in the cards as elite players ahead of him graduate from prospect eligibility (Harrison himself should have a steady major league role by midsummer).
With as many as 12 players vying for three starting outfield spots on Opening Day, the outlook for Miami's 2020 outfield is unclear. The group looks to have been upgraded from 2019 with the free agent signing of Corey Dickerson, but is that move alone enough to compete with the other outfield groups in the division?
Not as Impressive
At this point, it is common knowledge that the Marlins have turned their farm system around over the past few years. The new ownership group came in and turned probably the worst prospect pipeline into one of the best. However, Miami's minor league system is more often heralded for its depth—not its top-end talent—and that is reflected by being ranked only 16th out of 30 teams in terms of best number one prospect. With another high slot in the upcoming MLB Draft, the organization will have a chance to add some true blue-chip prospects and future All-Stars to their ranks.
Instead of completely addressing the worryingly questionable bullpen and complementing the signing of Kintzler this week, the Marlins added another outfielder in veteran Matt Joyce. Meanwhile, both Pedro Strop and David Phelps—two of the most proven relievers still on the market—have signed elsewhere, with Strop going to Cincinnati and Phelps signing with the Brewers. While Miami was only seriously linked with Strop, both players would have solidified the relief corps for under $2 million each, and then could have been possible trade chips at the deadline. Losing out on the pair means that the performances of the aforementioned NRI relievers in Spring Training are now all the more important.