Maybe one of the best parts of the year for Marlins fans is the September call-ups. Since the Marlins are out of the postseason race, it’s time to really look at the future and see what they got.
Players who still need more time
Conine (AA Stats: .189 BA, .250 OBP, .514 SLG, .764 OPS, 11 HR) is going to be one of the top names to be considered for the Marlins minor league player of the year award, mostly on the strength of his High-A numbers (.247 BA, .382 OBP, .587 SLG, .969 OPS, 23 HR). But do not expect a call-up to the majors this season as his strikeout rate is extremely high (40.8 K% in AA, 35.8 K% in High-A). There is the potential for Conine to eventually contribute as a fourth outfielder type/designated hitter. He’ll need to work on making more contact in order to go beyond that role. If you thought you were going to see Conine make his Marlins debut, it really won’t happen until possibly next season.
After an up-and-down season (AA Pensacola: .201 BA, .319 OBP, .369 SLG, .688 OPS, 11 HR), JJ Bleday won’t be making his MLB debut anytime soon The big issue has been consistency and keeping a consistent approach at the plate. Whether he repeats this level in 2022 and gets bumped up to AAA Jacksonville, the former top draft pick has a lot to prove.
JJ Bleday is on— Pensacola Blue Wahoos (@BlueWahoosBBall) August 13, 2021
Tuesday: Reached base 5 times
Wednesday: Home run
Thursday: Home run pic.twitter.com/EHakQSkfJm
Players who might come up but I doubt it
Max Meyer has had a phenomenal year (6-1, 1.97 ERA, 87.0 IP, 93 SO, 1.17 WHIP) that earned him a trip to the MLB Futures Game in Denver, Colorado. Meyer has been in AA Pensacola this whole season and has been consistent as well as showing the fanbase, front office, players and coaches what we have all been expecting from him. The Marlins 40-man roster is already overflowing with young pitchers who should get priority to be evaluated in September MLB games, but do not be surprised to see Meyer play a big role for the Fish in 2022.
6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 K— Pensacola Blue Wahoos (@BlueWahoosBBall) August 19, 2021
Max Meyer needs just 58 pitches to get through six! He lowers his ERA to 1.97, best among qualified pitchers at any level, Majors or Minors! pic.twitter.com/Py4ooFchar
Jake Eder has made a big prospect jump, performing similarly to Meyer despite falling down to the fourth round of last year’s amateur draft. He is ranked as a Top 100 MLB prospect by Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and The Athletic’s Jim Bowden. Eder this season has been phenomenal: 3-5, 1.77 ERA, 99 SO, 71.1 IP, 0.98 WHIP. Just like Meyer, it is best for the organization to delay Eder’s debut until 2022.
Some more development in the minors would do Burdick well, whether that means finishing out the season in Pensacola or being promoted to AAA Jacksonville in the best-case scenario. This season, he has been solid (.230 BA, .372 OBP, .843 OPS, 20 HR), but not convincing enough for him to take playing time away from guys like Jesús Sánchez and Bryan De La Cruz. If the Marlins in the offseason don’t make a trade for a big-time CF I can see Burdick slide into that spot on the opening day roster 2022.
Players who deserve to be called up
For many years, MLB used to allow teams to use up to 40 active players on their roster in September. However, the roster limit has now been reduced to 28 spots, so the Marlins must make some hard decisions.
This season in AAA, Lewin Díaz has been smashing the ball (.251 BA, .332 OBP, .863 OPS, 18 HR) and has been up in the major leagues with success. There just aren’t consistent reps at first base for him, which is a reason why he is in the minors right now playing with nothing to prove. Lewin and Jesús Aguilar will be able to coexist next season assuming that there is the DH in the National League. In the meantime, Lewin Díaz 100% should be called up and contribute any way he can.
Brigman has been a player who has had a strong case to be called up for a while now, but keeps getting passed over by infielders like Isan Díaz, Jon Berti (now on IL), Joe Panik (IL), and at the time Jose Devers (IL). The time is now to get Brigman time in the big leagues (.294 BA, .369 OBP, .792 OPS, 5 HR). The biggest reason in my opinion why he should be getting time up here or should be called up is because this year he is Rule 5 draft-eligible. Many rival organizations will consider taking him from the Marlins. Bringing him up would protect him from that draft and help Miami determine how his abilities translate to the highest level.
The South Florida native (.162 BA, .252 OBP, .585 OPS, 5 HR) has not produced as hoped this season, limited for months by a thumb injury. But he is also a versatile infielder who is Rule 5 draft-eligible.
After playing in the Tokyo Olympics and having a good season so far in Jacksonville (.279 BA, .441 OBP, .430 SLG, .872 OPS, 3 HR), Alvarez brings a lot of positives as a possible bench player. His defense reminds me of Adeiny Hechavarría.
Brian Miller (.248 BA, .308 OBP, .633 OPS) is a player who I have been dying to see in MLB at a consistent rate. Weirdly, after one weekend series and 3 at-bats which were all good at-bats, he was sent down and has not gotten a second chance. Miller could prove to be a long-term upgrade over Magneuris Sierra, who isn’t expected to be on the major league roster in 2022 anyway. It makes all the sense in the world to just DFA Sierra and gets Miller back to the bigs.
The return from the John Curtiss trade may be better than what you think. Payton Henry (.270 OBP, .355 OBP, .722 OPS, 3 HR) has been pretty good in the minors this season and definitely deserves a chance at the big leagues to help the Marlins at a position of need. One simple corresponding move should be DFA Alfaro or Sandy León and bring the young catcher up. At least the well-respected León can mentor the pitchers, which leads me to say get rid of Alfaro and bring up Payton Henry. Maybe he can be your short-term solution at the catcher position. There’s no way of knowing unless he gets an opportunity.