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Kevin Barral’s Top 30 Marlins prospects (Updated)

Fish Stripes intern Kevin Barral ranks the young talent in the Marlins organization.

Miami Marlins Kahlil Watson, No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, takes on the field to meet media members prior the game between the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins at loanDepot Park Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Since my first list, there have been Marlins prospect graduations and new information to consider about each player. I have decided to drop a new list that is updated and it will be my last list of the 2021 season. Many players did make a jump and many others were added to the list.

#30 Payton Henry (Previously Osiris Johnson Ranked Here)

Payton Henry was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline and has not disappointed at all since entering the minor leagues (241 AB, 25 R, 64 H, 6 HR, 27 RBI, .266 BA, .351 OBP, .742 OPS). Henry recently made his MLB debut where he collected his first hit in the bigs and has been solid defensively. Henry makes the top 30 because he is the most MLB-ready catcher out of the bunch and has shown all the tools to be a solid MLB catcher and with the Marlins for however long that may be.

#29 Joe Dunand (Previously Evan Fitterer)

Dunand despite having injury issues this season and not coming back to full potential still cracks the top 30 because of what his potential can be if he comes up and stays healthy. This season Dunand was mostly injured but did not return well putting up mediocre numbers (193 AB, 19 R, 36 H, 8 HR, 29 RBI, .187 BA, .269 OBP, .631 OPS).

#28 Ian Lewis (Previously Cody Morrissette)

Ian Lewis was really good on the FCL Marlins (149 AB, 24 R, 45 H, 3 HR, 9 SB, .302 BA, .354 OBP, .851 OPS) in a small sample size of his time with the FCL team. Lewis makes the top 30 because of the potential that he has and the great player he can be. He’s still just 18 years old.

#27 Jerar Encarnación (Previously Zach Thompson—graduated)

Fish Stripes original GIF

Jerar was a lot higher on this list (#17) the first time. Unfortunately, injuries that have held him back. Expectations for many was that he would be the DH of the Marlins as early as next year but his development stalled because if the injuries and the lack of consistency. Jerar this year has been mediocre (235 AB, 25 R, 52 H, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 5 SB, .221 BA, .308 OBP, .704 OPS), but still can be a good piece for the Marlins in maybe 2023 if ready to go up to AAA and get some reps there. As of now, his future can be uncertain.

#26 Osiris Johnson (Previously Dax Fulton)

Osiris Johnson moved up due to new players being added along with some players graduating. Johnson has been better than the last time this list was released (351 AB, 57 R, 77 H, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, .219 BA, .294 OBP, .667 OPS). He for sure can be a depth piece for the Marlins in a couple of years, but at what position? He spent this summer attempting a conversion to the outfield.

#25 Cody Morissette (Previously Will Banfield)

Morissette has had little time in Low-A but there are stats to be shown (137 AB, 22 R, 28 H, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .204 BA, .308 OBP, .607 OPS). Maybe next season can be better for Morissette. Defensively, he was used mainly at second base and third base with the Hammerheads.

#24 Evan Fitterer (Previously Braxton Garrett)

Fitterer had limited availability this season at the lower levels of the Marlins system (0-1, 4.15 ERA, 9 G, 30.1 IP, 33 SO, 1.30 WHIP). His lack of progress is somewhat underwhelming considering how so many other pitching prospects with less hype coming out of the draft have moved up.

#23 Jordan McCants (Previously Nick Neidert)

With a small sample size, McCants is having some success and the potential is through the roof for this guy (76 AB, 10 R, 17 H, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, .224 BA, .286 OBP, .523 OPB). He is only with the FCL Marlins so he won’t be making his MLB debut for a while but he has started off well and he can have success next year, presumably with Low-A Jupiter.

#22 Connor Scott (Previously Cody Poteet—graduated)

Connor Scott is a player who I am giving up on little by little because he played the whole year without being moved up to AA Pensacola. He was pretty good this season (395 AB, 80 R, 109 H, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 14 SB, .276 BA, .333 OBP, .779 OPS). With lots of outfield depth at the higher levels of Miami’s system, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scott traded as part of a package for a more established hitter.

#21 Victor Mesa Jr. (Previously Kyle Nicolas)

Victor Mesa Jr. (428 AB, 66 R, 114 H, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 12 SB, .266 BA, .316 OBP, .718 OPS) has really put his name on the radar and should be promoted up the ladder for the 2022 Minor League Baseball season. Mesa Jr. won’t be up anytime soon but he is a name to watch out for long term.

#20 Nick Neidert (Previously Zach McCambley)

Neidert has been a weird case. The bullpen is likely where he belongs because he is a pitcher who hasn’t yet proven he can consistently provide lengthy starts. Neidert this season was mediocre in the majors (1-2, 4.54 ERA, 35.2 IP, 21 SO, 1.51 WHIP). Maybe the way to “revamp” the Marlins bullpen can converting guys internally like Neidert.

#19 Braxton Garrett (Previously Nasim Nuñez)

Garrett was even less productive than Neidert ( 1-2, 5.03 ERA, 34.0 IP, 32 SO, 1.82 WHIP) but still has some promise if moved to the bullpen as mentioned for Neidert. He has shown flashes to be a good reliever because pitching lights out at the start of the game and little by little struggling with fatigue.

#18 Zach McCambley (Previously Yiddi Cappe)

Photo courtesy of Pensacola Blue Wahoos

One of the pitchers who has been mentioned the most in adding to any blockbuster trade has been Zach McCambley. His production with Beloit was impressive, but the transition to AA Pensacola was pretty tough on him (3-10, 4.36 ERA, 97.0 IP, 120 SO, 1.23 WHIP). On one of our Fish Stripes Live shows, Alex Carver of Fish on the Farm had mentioned that the timing of the call-up was a weird one for McCambley—they may regret rushing him so soon after entering pro ball. McCambley still has a lot of potential.

#17 Kyle Nicolas (Previously Jerar Encarnación)

Nicolas is in a similar situation as McCambley because they were both called up to the AA Pensacola at the same time. This season, he has been slightly better overall with an overpowering fastball (6-4, 4.18 ERA, 99.0 IP, 136 SO, 1.30 WHIP). Nicolas is a guy who is expected to be in the bigs by 2023 (ETA from MLB Pipeline).

#16 Kameron Misner (Previously José Salas)

Misner has been a great piece in the farm system this season as he had himself an exciting second half (395 AB, 70 R, 100 H, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 26 SB, .253 BA, .355 OBP, .788 OPS). Like Connor Scott, his next step is unclear due to the presence of several outfielders included in the top 15 spots and others who are already establishing themselves on the Marlins’ major league roster.

#15 Peyton Burdick (Previously Joe Mack)

Burdick is MLB-ready. He earned a spot in AAA Jacksonville and should be competing for an OF job in Miami thanks to an attractive combination of power and on-base skills (380 AB, 73 R, 87 H, 23 HR, 52 RBI, 9 SB, ,229 BA, .374 OBP, .842 OPS).

#14 Joe Mack (Previously Eury Pérez)

Joe Mack who was taken in the comp round of the 2021 MLB Draft has been mediocre, but the sample size is extremely small as he did join the team extremely late into the year so he was only able to get 53 at-bats that one of those resulted in a Homer. Mack is the obvious pick to be the Marlins catcher of the future unless they bring a superstar like a Willson Contreras and keep him for the long haul and Mack’s development takes a bit longer than expected. Mack is only 18 and according to MLB Pipeline, he won’t be expected to make his MLB debut until 2025.

#13 Griffin Conine (Previously Connor Scott)

Conine struggled a bit for AA Pensacola, but besides that, he has made a run at the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year award which is something impressive with the 36 homers he hit this season in High-A and AA. One of the issues with Conine has been his high strikeout rate and struck out 185 times which is the most he has struck out since being in the minor league system. Conine is also a player who struggles a bit on defense which leads many to say that he is either a 4th OF or a DH when his time comes with the Marlins. Many expect him to be up in AAA Jacksonville in the upcoming season which I myself expect as well.

#12 José Devers (Previously Griffin Conine)

Miami Marlins second baseman Jose Devers (61) runs to second base with a double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Devers has had a tough time this season mainly because of his shoulder injury which required surgery. He was called up pretty early this season and made his time in the bigs worth the while (41 AB, 7 R, 10 H, 5 RBI, .244 BA, .304 OBP, .621 OPS). In the minors, Devers was solid but did not play many games because he was called up so early into the season (39 AB, 4 R, 9 H, 3 RBI, .231 BA, .250 OBP, .558 OPS). Devers most likely begins 2022 in AAA just to see where he is at after his injury and then the Marlins will evaluate from there.

#11 Dax Fulton (Previously Peyton Burdick)

Fulton who is in Low-A ball has a mediocre season (2-5, 4.60 ERA, 78.1 IP, 84 SO, 1.39 WHIP). Fulton has a pretty high Ceiling and can improve as he plays in higher leagues. Fulton made a HUGE jump from almost the bottom of the list to making it almost top 10 because of what the future holds for him and the improvements that if he makes he will be a top pitcher in the Marlins minor league system.

#10 Yiddi Cappe (Previously José Devers)

Yiddie Cappe makes the top ten of our list after seeing how good he can be in the lower leagues of the organization (DSL Marlins) (164 AB, 28 R, 43 H, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB, .262 BA, .323 OBP, .713 OPS). Yiddie is not expected to be with the Marlins anytime soon but in 2024 expect his debut to come maybe 2025 looking ahead. The only negative is that he still hasn’t played baseball in the United States and that is due to some legal issues since he did defect from Cuba. Besides that Yiddie is going to be a stud on the Miami Marlins and he most likely will have to play more than one infield position.

#9 Nasim Nuñez (Previously Kahlil Watson)

Nunez who is one of the ideal trade pieces makes the top ten because he is going to be a stud in the Majors and in the minor league levels as well once he rises up there. This season Nunez has been (189 AB, 33 R, 46 H, 10 RBI, 33 SB, .243 BA, .366 OBP, .630 OPS) really good and his speed has been phenomenal stealing 33 Bases which is the most in the team. Nunez has all the tools to be a successful MLB player with the speed and contact he can put on the bat it will all work out for him if it is in Miami or somewhere else.

#8 José Salas (Previously Kameron Misner)

Salas is one of the bright spots of the minor league system for the Fish. In Low-A Jupiter Salas has been incredible (200 AB, 26 R, 61 H, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 14 SB, .305 BA, .391 OBP, .796 OPS). Salas will for sure be a top 10 or even top 5 prospect in 1 or 2 years with how much he has been improving his game defensively and offensively.

#7 JJ Bleday (Previously Jake Eder)

Photo courtesy of Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Bleday had a pretty disappointing MiLB season (397 AB, 52 R, 84 H, 12 HR, 54 RBI, 5 SB, .212 BA, .323 OBP, .695 OPS). He could wind up repeating AA or they will move him up to AAA to see how he faces the pitching up there. One thing that is certain is that you cannot give up on Bleday at all because—you give him another year to develop and Bleday can become a beast. He’s a candidate to go to the Arizona Fall League.

#6 Kahlil Watson (Previously Lewin Díaz—graduated)

Watson has been okay ever since joining the minor league system (33 AB, 13 R, 13 H, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 SB, .394 BA, .524 OBP, 1.130 OPS) having a high batting averaging but in only 33 at-bats because he did suffer an injury that kept him out for a bit. Watson on MLB Pipeline is ranked the number prospect which I find mind-boggling because at the time Watson had not played a single game for the Marlins minor league system. Now after playing a bit you can consider him a top 5 player in the minor leagues because of the great potential he has as well as where the Marlins got him to where he was supposed to go which many considered him a top 3 pick and the Marlins go him at 16 in the draft.

#5 Sixto Sánchez (Previously Jesús Sánchez—graduated)

Sixto was expected to be a big part of this season’s rotation, but injuries really hit him hard and kept him out for the whole year. He is expected to be back in time for spring training and should be a 3rd or 4th starter for Miami. Even though Sixto goes down in the rankings, he is a huge part of the franchise moving forward.

#4 Jake Eder (Previously JJ Bleday)

Even though Eder underwent Tommy John surgery that will keep him out until 2023, he still had a phenomenal season (3-5, 1.77 ERA, 71.1 IP, 99 SO, 0.98 WHIP). Eder was expected to be up in the majors next season along with Max Meyer but following the surgery, his timeline has been pushed back. Eder does rise in the list because he did have a better season than Bleday and he is just one nasty pitcher that can get it done. Something else to note is that he is pitching in a pretty difficult league which is AA.

#3 Eury Pérez (Previously Sixto Sanchez)

Pérez is the youngest player in the minor leagues at only 18 years old pitching in High-A is pretty much unheard of but the stats really do say it all with how special he has been (3-5, 1.96 ERA, 78.0 IP, 108 SO, 0.88 WHIP). Pérez will most likely stay in High-A for now until the time is right to get him into AA. Pérez understandably made one of the biggest jumps on the list.

#2 Max Meyer (Unchanged from previous list)

It was tempting to place Meyer number one on the list but we all know who should be there until he graduates. Meyer is now in AAA-Jacksonville finishing off a dominant season (6-3, 2.41 ERA, 101.0 IP, 113 SO, 1.23 WHIP) and he will most likely be on the Marlins at some point in 2022. Meyer really can make a run at the rotation this upcoming spring training—breaking camp with the team will depend on how healthy the more experienced starters are. Only time will tell if we will see Max Meyer in a Marlins uniform or changing teams as the centerpiece of a possible blockbuster trade.

#1 Edward Cabrera (Unchanged from previous list)

Edward Cabrera (79) delivers a pitch against the New York Mets during the first inning at loanDepot Park Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Eddy Cabrera—who should have been called up a long time ago—is finally in the bigs and he just had his best start of the season with 7 strikeouts that eventually resulted in a loss for the Marlins. Besides that, in the minors, Eddy was lighting it up after he had recovered from his injury (3-4, 2.93 ERA, 61.1 IP, 92 SO, 1.14 WHIP) In the bigs, he is 0-2 and has recorded only 16 strikeouts, but we still haven’t seen the Eddy Cabrera we all know of from the minor leagues. A change in pitch mix instead of relying so much on his secondary pitches should help.