The lack of a 2020 MiLB season presents developmental challenges for teams and players alike, but the issues run deeper for some. While upper-level, close-to-the-majors prospects will be spoken for on big league taxi squads, and lower-level prospects just getting their feet wet will be able to stay on their developmental tracks for the most part through less organized workouts, those in the middle are losing key development time that has the potential to significantly alter their path through the minor leagues. Let’s take a look at a few Marlins prospects who are probably most frustrated by the cancelled season.
Kameron Misner, OF—Misner was one of the highest upside players in the 2019 draft class, but made it to the Marlins’ second pick due to shaky conference play in his draft year. Misner carries plus or better raw power to go with above average to plus speed that gives him a chance to stick in center field, and for stretches has shown a more than capable hit tool. However, Misner has faced intermittent timing issues at the plate, and can sometimes be too passive with his approach. This put Misner in something of an unenviable position entering pro ball, as he was set to be 22 years old already in his first full pro campaign, but had plenty of kinks to work out before hitting the big leagues, meaning time was of the essence. Now, he’s lost quite a bit of time through no fault of his own, but hopefully he’s able to get in some work to hone his approach and setup at the dish over the next few months to prepare himself for a leap to the upper minors when MiLB play resumes.
Victor Victor Mesa, OF—Much has been written about the older Mesa brother’s transition to MLB affiliated ball at this point, as his 2019 campaign had very few positive developments to report. Expected to be quick to the big leagues as a defensive wiz in CF with table-setting qualities, Mesa seemed unable to solve stateside pitching and scuffled at the plate for more or less the entire season. This prompted Mesa to make significant swing changes over the offseason, but he’s not on the expanded 60-man roster and won’t be able to test those changes in games yet. Mesa turns 24 in about a week, and likely won’t play an organized game until 2021 at the earliest, which is definitely not the ideal situation for a prospect who looked lost with the bat the last time he was on the field.
Jordan Holloway, RHP—Unlike the first two players on this list, Holloway did qualify for the expanded roster and has a real shot to get into big league action this year. That’s deserved, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a couple of appearances for Miami in 2020. However, what Holloway needs most right now is repetitions as he continues to work himself back from surgery, and the 2020 circumstances are going to make it a lot more difficult for him to get those in. Holloway sports a vicious 1-2 punch in his fastball and curveball that gives him big upside, but injuries have resulted in some inconsistency issues that still need to be ironed out before he can settle into a big league role.
Will Stewart, LHP—Stewart “celebrates” his 23rd birthday on Tuesday while stuck in limbo as an upper-minors prospect who didn’t make the expanded roster cut. Once a fairly coveted prospect with a safe rotation projection, Stewart has faded a bit in recent history and went unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft.
At his best, Stewart shows command of a diverse lefty arsenal and a classic back-end starter profile, but his transition to the upper minors didn’t go especially smoothly and he clearly needs more work to adapt his style of pitching to higher level hitters. Now, he’ll have to wait another year to get it and will be at least 24 before he can push for a big league call-up.
Peyton Burdick, OF—Unlike his peers on this list, Burdick hasn’t really faced adversity yet in his pro career. After being drafted in 2019, he was one of the biggest performers in the class and hit his way squarely onto the national radar. Burdick took some time to draw attention as an amateur prospect, so he came to pro ball as an older prospect, and the season cancellation stops some serious momentum. That said, it doesn’t really affect Burdick’s long term projection, but it likely sets his ETA back by a few months to a year, which is disappointing given how exciting his pro debut was.