The absence of Minor League Baseball in 2020 and pending contraction of dozens of affiliates next year has flooded the free agent market with talent. The Marlins contributed to that by releasing at least 41 prospects in June. The purge affected numerous player types, including teenagers with no experience in official games, former early-round draft picks who didn’t progress as quickly as hoped and Triple-A depth with limited skill sets. But most of them are determined to continue pursuing their big league dreams.
Under such challenging circumstances, these athletes are grateful for independent leagues. Though several have understandably canceled their 2020 seasons, others are set to play ball this month, allowing the following ex-Marlins to gain valuable game reps and demonstrate that they’re worthy of receiving another opportunity in affiliated ball in the near future.
American Association (Opening Day: July 3)
- RHP Dustin Beggs (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks)—Beggs was still a couple years away from minor league free agency at the time of his release. But having been drafted and developed by the Marlins and thrown more than 400 MiLB innings for them, I suppose the organization had sufficient data to conclude that his abilities wouldn’t translate well to The Show. The decision not to invite him to major league spring training despite his Triple-A experience signaled that he wasn’t in their long-term plans.
- INF JC Millan (St. Paul Saints)—Similarly, Millan entered pro ball with the Marlins and rose all the way to Triple-A (albeit very briefly). The Cuban infielder has shown gradual year-to-year improvement at the plate since 2016.
COVID-19 clubhouse— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) June 26, 2020
Former Marlins minor leaguer J.C. Millan begins his season next week in the independent American Association. You see every used locker has an empty locker in between to keep players from making direct physical contact with each other. pic.twitter.com/QHtHcrnHR2
- LHP McKenzie Mills (Winnipeg Goldeyes)—Acquired by the Marlins in August 2018, Mills was initially inserted into the Double-A Jacksonville rotation before getting squeezed out by prospects with better pure stuff. He’s in his age-24 season.
- RHP Jeremy Ovalle (Milwaukee Milkmen)—The right-hander had an encouraging pro debut in his native Dominican Republic, racking up 77 innings pitched in 2014, but worked only 88 more over the next five seasons combined. He’s listed as an inactive player on the Milkmen roster.
- 1B John Silviano (St. Paul Saints)—The Florida native turns 26 next week and has 59 professional home runs on his résumé, including 13 during the partial season he spent with the Saints last year. Drafted as a catcher way back in 2012, Silviano is now primarily a first baseman, shifting to the corner outfield spots when necessary.
Constellation Energy League (Opening Day: July 10)
- C BJ López—The Marlins thought highly enough of the 25-year-old to make him a non-roster invitee to spring training. He checks all the boxes you want from a minor league backup catcher, but López’s inability to hit for any power whatsoever (career .028 ISO) limits his ceiling.
- RHP Alex Mateo—Born and raised in South Florida, Mateo posted a career-best 26.3% strikeout rate in 2019 while splitting time between High-A Jupiter and Jacksonville.