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Kevin Barral’s Miami Marlins Top 30 Prospects

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Here is my Marlins top prospects list entering 2022:

  1. Max Meyer
  2. Edward Cabrera
  3. Eury Pérez
  4. Kahlil Watson
  5. Sixto Sánchez
  6. Jake Eder
  7. JJ Bleday
  8. Jose Salas
  9. Joe Mack
  10. Dax Fulton
  11. Peyton Burdick
  12. Nasim Nuñez
  13. Yiddi Cappe
  14. Zach McCambley
  15. Cody Morissette
  16. Griffin Conine
  17. Víctor Mesa Jr.
  18. Ian Lewis
  19. Nick Neidert
  20. Braxton Garrett
  21. Evan Fitterer
  22. Jordan McCants
  23. George Soriano
  24. Troy Johnston
  25. Jerar Encarnación
  26. Osiris Johnson
  27. Nick Fortes
  28. Tanner Allen
  29. Payton Henry
  30. Bennett Hostetler

1. Max Meyer

Meyer makes the jump from second to first on the list because of how he finished his minor league season in such a dominant fashion in AAA, setting a career-high in strikeouts (10) in one of those games. He had a successful minor league season overall (6-4, 2.27 ERA, 111.0 IP, 130 SO, 1.19 WHIP) and is already on the brink of reaching the major leagues.

2. Edward Cabrera (formerly #1)

Edward Cabrera had nothing left to prove in the minor leagues (3-4, 2.93 ERA, 61.1 IP, 92 SO, 1.14 WHIP), but his first taste of MLB competition was a struggle (0-3, 5.81 ERA, 26.1 IP, 28 SO, 1.63). Because the Marlins waited until late August to recall Eddy, he’s still prospect eligible. Meyer and Cabrera could potentially swap places on the list come spring training when they’ll be battling for a back-end rotation spot. Even in the worst-case long-term scenario, as suggested by Baseball America, both these guys can be impact pitchers out of the bullpen.

3. Eury Pérez

The only way to describe this kid is as a young prodigy. Eury Pérez, who will still be only 18 years old at the start of next season, made the move from Low-A to High-A and handled it better than anybody could have hoped.

Low-A: 2-3, 1.61 ERA, 56.0 IP, 82 SO, 0.946 WHIP

High-A: 1-2, 2.86 ERA, 22.0 IP, 26 SO, 0.727 WHIP

Eury stays right at 3 but will definitely move up once Edward graduates. While there’s no hurry on the development of this guy, the Marlins can only hold him back so much if he’s getting everybody out.

4. Kahlil Watson (previously #6)

Happy to say that I am fully on the Kahlil Watson hype train. He is going to be a star in the minor leagues. Don’t be surprised if he sticks at shortstop defensively and eventually replaces Miguel Rojas at that position. However, more so than the other top-5 Marlins prospect, fans will have to wait patiently for him to be major league-ready.

5. Sixto Sánchez

We all need to remember that Sixto played a huge role towards the end of the 2020 COVID season, which included pitching in a crucial playoff game at Wrigley Field. It’s fair to question whether he has the necessary work ethic to come back as the best version of himself after shoulder surgery, but the talent is undeniable. I believe Sixto begins the season off in AAA unless he has a dominant spring training. We can only wait and see how his rehab is going so far.

6. Jake Eder (previously #4)

Eder was one of the most surprising and dominant pitchers in the system in 2021, but his Tommy John surgery was an unfortunate setback. The Double-A South All-Star and MLB Futures Game selection won’t pitch in any official games until 2023. Even with the injury, the Marlins must be happy that he fell into their laps as a fourth-round draft pick.

7. JJ Bleday

We should never judge a player’s future off his time in the Arizona Fall League but the impressive stint that Bleday had as he was an All-Star and won MVP of the All-Star Game. Bleday really improved and it allowed us to see what he is capable of doing. Bleday falls at 7 because the guys in front of him just seem to have a more successful future and just seem to be more consistent. Bleday in my opinion he will get a chance in the MLB if any injuries come up or when September call-ups begin.

8. José Salas

Salas is one of the best infield prospects even though he looks to be about 3 years away from making his MLB debut. He’s an extremely important piece of the Marlins’ future considering his batted ball quality and the fact that their infield depth is not too good. Salas was solid in his first official minor league campaign (200 AB, 26 R, 61 H, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 14 SB, .305 BA, .391 OBP, .796 OPS). Salas may or may not move positions as it can be Watson but at some point who knows. Salas stays right at 8 because it is hard to put him over a guy like Khalil Watson who seems to be going higher and higher on my list as the times go by.

9. Joe Mack (previously #14)

Joe Mack may be under the most pressure to succeed as a prospect and make the major leagues in 4 years as the Marlins have had little success developing a catcher ever since JT Realmuto left the Miami Marlins. Mack is an offensive catcher but his defense isn’t horrid as it can be considered mediocre at most. Mack played very little in the FCL Marlins team so he wasn’t good at all only batting .132 but did hit a homer and had 2 RBI which shows some offensive production. Mack is considered the future of the Marlins when it comes to the catching position after Jacob Stallings gets up there in age or is no longer elite.

10. Dax Fulton (previously #11)

Dax has a sky-high ceiling, even in comparison to the many other great pitchers that the Marlins have coming. Fulton in my opinion will begin in High-A and if he pitches well will see plenty of action with AA Pensacola. Fulton did post a high ERA this past season with a 4.60 ERA, but did almost reach 100 strikeouts which are encouraging.

11. Peyton Burdick (previously #15)

Burdick was the 2021 Minor league player of the year starting in AA and going all the way up to AAA Jacksonville in which he was dominant in each level.

AA: .231 BA, .376 OBP, .472 SLG, .848 OPS, 23 HR, 52 RBI, 86 H

AAA: .143 BA, .226 OBP, .250 SLG, .476 OPS, 4 H, 1 RBI

Burdick truly impressed and will be a player to consider moving up to the big leagues in 2021 if it is as a 4th outfielder or will be waiting in AAA until his time comes about in September when he may be needed.

12. Nasim Nuñez (previously #9)

Fish Stripes original GIF

Although I value Nuñez extremely highly in this org, he doesn’t have the major league readiness or the overall skill set to move any higher on my list than right here. He showed off the immense speed he has by stealing 33 bases during an injury-shortened 2021. Nuñez also showed good plate discipliner. One negative on this smooth shortstop is his lack of power (no homers in his pro career). Nuñez is bound to have an important 2022 season and will hopefully move up to High-A.

13. Yiddi Cappe (previously #10)

Cappe has had little time playing for the Marlins but has been good for the team (DSL Marlins) (189 AB, 31 R, 51 H, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 9 SB, .270 BA, .329 OBP, .731 OPS) but showed some signs of creating offense with 27 RBI. Cappe and all of these other SS prospects may be moving positions permanently as they at some point will all be in the Majors together or at least one of them will be dealt as they have immense value as them in a couple of years can be top 50-30 prospects.

14. Zach McCambley (previously #18)

I think it is time to put some respect on McCambley’s name. He was on the same development track as recently traded Kyle Nicolas and will no longer be hidden in his shadows (both figuratively and literally). The reason McCambley made this jump is that he is relatively close to the bigs and his curveball is exceptional. Maybe McCambley can be established in the majors as early as the 2023 season—most likely in a bullpen role—or make it even sooner late next year if the Marlins are in playoff contention.

15. Cody Morissette (previously #25)

One player who made a huge jump on my list in Morissette is one prospect who I am very intrigued in and it is said to have a great swing and should be a guy to really look out for. Morissette makes this jump because of how good his Fall Development camp was and how good he is going to be for the Marlins this upcoming Milb season. Playing in Low-A he had a very small sample size but it was okay in terms of maybe some particular things that we may have seen like good hitting and he did have good creation of the offense with 10 RBI. Morissette will be hopefully moving up into that top 10 in this next season coming up.

16. Griffin Conine

When thinking about Conine you think about him being one of the best power hitters in the Milb (36 HR) but then there is a huge negative which was at the rate that he struck out (185 SO which is a 40.1%). Conine currently won’t be up in the MLB anytime soon but the issue that all Marlins fans know about is that Griffin Conine was not protected from the Rule 5 draft as well as another player who we will get into later. There is a chance Conine gets selected in the draft by a team that is over 3-2 years away from competing (Nationals, Pirates, Orioles, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Rockies) but there is a good chance that he will not be taken but still cannot let that pass our minds. Conine lands at 16 because of the high K rate that he had this season. Conine will definitely move up with the K rate going down and taking AB more patiently and not biting on those pitches that can eventually strike him out. The power is there as well as him being bound to be a great DH in the future but once the K rate goes down we can start to consider Conine a top 15 or top 10 guy.

17. Víctor Mesa Jr.

Víctor Mesa was one surprise in my eyes as many of us assumed he was a lost cause, that is not the case anymore as Mesa had himself a good season in MiLB. He comes in at 17 because of how good he was in Low-A (428 AB, 66 R, 114 H, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 12 SB, .266 BA, .316 OBP, .718 OPS). Mesa Jr. will not be up anytime soon and maybe won’t move up to much more in my list but he is a player who we need to consider an improvement and a bit of a revival to his career. His brother Victor Mesa was good but not good enough to crack the top 30 (Honorable mention for sure).

18. Ian Lewis

Lewis is another prospect making a massive jump. He starred in the complex league especially as the season went along (149 AB, 24 R, 45 H, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 9 SB, .302 BA, .354 OBP, .851 OPS). Jazz Chisholm Jr. has taken Lewis under his wing and don’t be surprised if they’re playing alongside each other in the Marlins infield some day.

19. Nick Neidert

Yes, you have seen Nick Neidert a lot in the big leagues but still not enough for him to graduate from prospect status or to make me lose hope in him. The major disappointment for Neidert this season was the inability to go deep into ballgames. His results were okay (1-2, 4.54 ERA, 35.2 IP, 21 SO, 1.51 WHIP), but MLB starters must be more efficient with their pitches. The constant up-and-down roster movement that Neidert dealt must’ve made things difficult on him, so take that into account. I am rooting for him to find his niche as a bullpen piece.

20. Braxton Garrett

Garrett just makes the top 20 because he has been in the same situation as Neidert which is a lot of hope but little chances given which have to lead me to see him as a bullpen guy or maybe if he has a dominant spring training gets to sneak into that starting rotation which is highly unlikely. Garrett was not good in his starts as a Marlins but did have his good starts but with poor roster management, he was not up in the MLB at a consistent rate.

21. Evan Fitterer

To me a weird prospect that is expected a lot from but just has not been incredible. Fitterer (0-1, 4.15 ERA, 30.1 IP, 33 SO) had a little sample size season because of some injury stints with the GCL Marlins and the Jupiter Hammerheads. Fitterer had the opportunity to play in the Arizona Fall League (which was covered by Fish Stripes (Livestream)) in which in 2 games went 1-1 and had a lower ERA (3.86) which was lower than his minor league season ERA at 4.15. Fitterer has been considered as one of the top minor league trade targets for the Marlins as they are looking to upgrade various positions. Fitterer can be seen as a future starter for sure as the bullpen and starter ratio needs to be balanced in the minor leagues.

22. Jordan McCants

In my opinion, a very interesting prospect in the eyes of many a true wildcard Mccants (76 AB, 10 R, 17 H, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, .224 BA, .286 OBP, .523 OPS) is another one of those valued infield prospects that may be seeing a position change which is why we see him in the 22nd spot on the list. Once we are a bit more clear on where he may fall in terms of his positions we can make some future projections with his defense. Offensively in the small sample size, I was a fan of what I saw in terms of starting some offense. I can definitely see McCants make a jump on this list or stay put depending on where he is at the end of the 2022 Minor League season.

23. George Soriano

At the moment, Soriano is “my guy” in the Marlins system. My favorite prospect. Soriano was dominant at both levels he played in this season. I was curious about why he was added to MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Marlins prospects list and decided that he absolutely belonged on mine.

Low-A: 3-0, 2.91 ERA, 34.0 IP, 47 SO, 1.294 WHIP

High-A: 4-1, 3.74 ERA, 55.1 IP, 67 SO, 1.392 WHIP

He piled up strikeouts at an impressive rate thanks to a fastball that tops out at 97 and a filthy slider. Soriano had a low walk rate in High-A, and he is only 22 years old. As is the case for every prospect this far down on the list, Soriano has some things he can work on. He has inconsistent control that could get him in trouble at higher levels.

I believe Soriano will have a dominant 2022 season, even if he’s challenged against AA opponents.

(Thanks to Alex Carver of Fish On The Farm for helping out with this portion of the article)

24. Troy Johnston

Maybe the best minor league performer this season among Marlins position players, Johnston was phenomenal and earned more recognition from me.

Low-A: 24 G, 29 H, 1 HR, 13 RBI, .349 BA, .427 OBP, .446 SLG, .873 OPS

High-A: 96 G, 103 H, 14 HR, 72 RBI, .289, .393 OBP, .473 SLG, 866 OPS

AFL (Arizona Fall League): 18 G, 21 H, 11 RBI, .296 BA, .383 OBP, .338 SLG, .721 OPS

Johnston sprung up on almost everybody’s radar and to be honest, I want to study him a bit more before getting overly excited. His progress is important to monitor considering the few quality 1B alternatives in the Marlins minor league pipeline (with Lewin Díaz graduating from eligibility).

25. Jerar Encarnación

Jerar is definitely a player who is on my “hot seat,” seriously in need of some positive results in 2022. He has dealt with injuries that have kept him off the field (something nobody can control), but when healthy, he is a scary presence in the batter’s box with the potential to be a great DH. In spring training of 2019 and 2020, he showed flashes of what he could do and it was truly impressive. Ever since that he has taken a dip but he is supposed to have a good 2022 as he would be fully healthy and maybe time for him to succeed at the AA level which was a struggle for him. Jerar falls on my list because there wasn’t enough to really say in terms of this season. Something that I can say is that if things go right expect him to move up to AA this upcoming season and 2023 may be time for his Major league debut if it is on the Marlins are another team if he is a player that gets dealt.

Low-A: 2 G, .200 BA

AA: 63 G, 9 HR, 28 RBI, .222 BA, .308 OBP, .400 SLG, .708 OPS

26. Osiris Johnson

Osiris Johnson is a player who the Marlins should be a little bit higher on although he has been away from the game for almost 2 years due to some injuries.

FCL: 27 G, 27 H, 8 HR, 26 RBI, .281 BA, .361 OBP, .646 SLG, 1.007 OPS

Low-A: 65 G, 50 H, 3 HR, 29 RBI, .196 BA, .269 OBP, .271 SLG, .539 OPS

Seeing the stats he was great in the small sample size with the FCL Marlins but the dip in almost every single stats category when he went up to the Low-A team is noticeable as the only stats he was better in was hits and RBI’s. I am decently high on Osiris but not to the point where he is the center fielder of the future unless he has a dominant 2022 minor league season which I believe he can have as the stage is set. Johnson is definitely a player who we can see move up on this list if the stats get better and we see him on a better trajectory than a guy like Jerar who can also have a great season.

27. Nick Fortes

Fortes had a breakout season and will hopefully carry that momentum into spring training. I was lucky enough to be at his major league debut (along with Isaac Azout who covered the game). Fortes hit a bomb to left field, and from that point on, he stayed hot.

MLB: 31 AB, 9 H, 4 HR, .290 BA, 7 RBI, .353 OBP, .677 SLG, 1.030 OPS

AA: 57 G, 49 H, 3 HR, 23 RBI, .251 BA, .338 OBP, .359 SLG, .697 OPS

AAA: 38 G, 32 H, 4 HR, 21 RBI, .237 BA, .322 OBP, .378 SLG, .700 OPS

Fortes does have some defensive issues—he still has to prove himself as a receiver and thrower behind the dish. His future with the Marlins is uncertain with the acquisition of Jacob Stallings and the team’s belief in Alex Jackson, but in my eyes, Fortes can be one of the best backup catchers in the league. If Stallings doesn’t age as gracefully as hoped, Fortes would have a window to establish himself while Joe Mack is brought along slowly in the minors.

28. Tanner Allen

You may know Tanner Allen as the guy I took in the Fish Stripes Unfiltered Marlins Decade Draft with one of my final picks. Allen did struggle in his debut with the Low-A team, but I am slightly boosting the stock of outfielders at this point in time in the aftermath of Connor Scott and Kameron Misner being dealt—the position isn’t as deep as it used to be.

Low-A: 120 AB, 22 H, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .183 BA, .259 OBP, .534 OPS

Allen is more than capable of rebounding from his down year.

29. Payton Henry

Henry was acquired in the John Curtiss trade and just made his Major League debut at the end of the 2021 season (15 AB, 4 H, .267 BA, .313 OB, .646 OPS). He showed flashes of good defensive skills; there are also the fundamentals to be a steady offensive contributor, but that is still yet to be seen in the major leagues. The previously mentioned catcher logjam likely means that Henry begins 2022 in AAA.

30. Bennett Hostetler

I fill out my top 30 with a fascinating player who just recently began his conversion to catcher.

Low-A: 27 G, 35 H, 3 HR, 25 RBI, .337 BA, .481 SLG, .369 OBP, .850 OPS

High-A: 10 G, 9 H, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .265 BA, .359 OBP, .500 SLG, .859 OPS

Hostetler really impressed me in this small sample size. He moved up to High-A faster than anybody else in his draft class and wasn’t intimidated at all. Isaac recommended this selection of Hostetler and now I see why. Switching positions to catcher at age 24 is a bold choice so we will see how that works out.

Honorable Mention: Bryson Brigman

With the strong likelihood that Brigman will be taken in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, it really doesn’t make sense to put him in the top 30. His defensive versatility and bat-to-ball skills will help a big league team, but the Marlins apparently don’t see it that way. Hopefully he makes the most of his opportunities elsewhere.