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Kevin Barral’s Top 30 Miami Marlins Prospects

Five previously unranked players have earned spots on the list since the 2022 season began.

Miami Marlins pitcher Max Meyer (63) pitches against the New York Mets in the fourth inning during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

My first prospect rankings update of the 2022 MiLB season is upon us. There have been a lot of additions and subtractions from the last list which was posted in December.

  1. Eury Pérez (AA)
  2. Max Meyer (AAA)
  3. Kahlil Watson (A)
  4. Edward Cabrera (AAA)
  5. JJ Bleday (AAA)
  6. Jake Eder (AA)
  7. José Salas (A)
  8. Ian Lewis (A)
  9. Zach McCambley (AA)
  10. Peyton Burdick (AAA)
  11. Yiddi Cappe (ROK)
  12. Jerar Encarnación (AAA)
  13. Griffin Conine (AA)
  14. Victor Mesa Jr. (A+)
  15. Joe Mack (A)
  16. Sixto Sánchez (AAA)
  17. Dax Fulton (A+)
  18. Cody Morissette (A+)
  19. George Soriano (AAA)
  20. Braxton Garrett (AAA)
  21. Tanner Allen (A+)
  22. Paul McIntosh (AA)
  23. Josh Simpson (AA)
  24. Nasim Nunez (A+)
  25. Nick Fortes (AAA)
  26. Jordan McCants (ROK)
  27. Bennett Hostetler (A+)
  28. Jefry Yan (AA)
  29. Troy Johnston (AA)
  30. Ronald Hernández (ROK)

1. Eury Pérez (Previously #3)

Eury Pérez throughout the 2021 MiLB season established himself as the top pitching prospect in the Marlins minor league season. Eury was so good that he earned himself a call up to AA Pensacola entering his age-19 campaign. Pérez did struggle in his first two games of action, but managed to adjust quickly and has dominated lately (average 8.5 K’s over his last four starts). Eury has made the easy jump to the number one spot and should be considered untouchable by the Marlins organization.

2. Max Meyer (Previously #1)

Before his last two rough starts, Meyer had been the best overall performer during this 2022 season (2-2, 4.54 ERA, 39.2 IP, 44 SO, 1.160 WHIP in AAA). He emerged as a strong candidate for a major league call-up as somebody who could be plugged into the Marlins rotation. The former first-round draft pick is on the injured list recovering from an ulnar nerve irritation—he’s not expected to miss much time.

3. Kahlil Watson (Previously #4)

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

The 16th pick of the 2021 MLB Draft has certainly lived up to the hype as he is mashing homers in Low-A Jupiter. Watson got off to a hot start hitting 5 home runs in the blink of an eye, but has cooled off significantly. Watson is currently hitting .250 BA, .299 OBP, .441 SLG, .740 OPS, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 34 H. He moves up a spot because of how he is producing fine overall against much older competition.

4. Edward Cabrera (Previously #2)

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Cabrera made his major league debut last season and it wasn’t pretty (0-3, 5.81 ERA, 26.1 IP, 28 SO, 6 HR allowed). He arrived to 2022 Spring Training slightly behind schedule and then got delayed by biceps fatigue. He is now in AAA making starts on a normal schedule. Cabrera moves a spot down simply because of the injury and lack of consistency so far in Jacksonville.

5. JJ Bleday (Previously #7)

MLB: 2022 Miami Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

After an impressive Arizona Fall League stint that earned him MVP and an All-Star selection, Bleday has fell down to earth in AAA Jacksonville, only looking like a league-average hitter (.200 BA, .354 OBP, .400 SLG, .754 OPS, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 26 H). His call-up won’t be coming anytime soon—he has a lot left to show. Bleday moves up a couple spots on the list, but that says more about the decline of other players than it does about him.

6. Jake Eder (Previously #6)

Syndication: Nashville George Walker IV / Tennessean.com

Although Eder’s incredible AA Pensacola tenure came to an end due to Tommy John surgery, the 2020 4th round pick showed more than enough to make himself one of the top pitchers in the Marlins minor league system (3-5, 1.77 ERA, 71.1 IP, 99 SO, 0.98 WHIP). Eder stays right at 6 while he builds toward a 2023 return.

7. José Salas (Previously #8)

One of the best infield prospects from last season has gotten off to a very slow start in 2022 in the minor leagues (.220 BA, .310 OBP, .341 SLG, .651 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 27 H). He is beginning to get it going. The switch-hitter has been especially successful from the right side of the plate.

8. Ian Lewis (Previously #18)

You could not have dreamed of a better early-season performance from Ian Lewis who is batting .459 BA, .488 OBP, .568 SLG, 1.056 OPS in 41 plate appearances, all while competing at Low-A for the first time. A great runner with an advanced bat, Lewis is showing why his ceiling is immense.

9. Zach McCambley (Previously #14)

Although Zach McCambley’s ERA is high at 5.83, that doesn’t reflect the positive steps he has taken on the mound this season. In McCambley’s last start he had 8 SO and allowed only 4 hits. In the start prior to that one he only allowed 2 hits with the same amount of strikeouts. McCambley looked like a more complete pitcher on the minor league backfields during spring training and he’s showing he belongs at AA Pensacola.

10. Peyton Burdick (Previously #11)

The 2021 Marlins minor league player of the year has had an uneven 2022 season to date (.227 BA, .346 OBP, .455 SLG, .801 OPS). Overall, his profile matches well with Hunter Renfroe (mentioned by Alex Carver of Fish On The Farm) and I see Jesús Sánchez as a comp too for an outfielder who hits for big power but low average.

11. Yiddi Cappe (Previously #13)

The high-priced Cuban born player should begin his short season in the Florida Complex League on June 6. Cappe in 2021 was a solid player for DSL and is expected to grow from that start. With optimism that Cappe can stick at shortstop defensively, he has a high ceiling and floor as well.

12. Jerar Encarnación (Previously #25)

Another huge riser on my list is Jerar Encarnación, arguably the best hitter in the Marlins minor league system right now (.350 BA, .410 OBP, .600 SLG, 1.010 OPS, 10 HR, 22 RBI, 49 H). He lacked consistency in 2021 and it didn’t help that he missed games due to injury. In 2022, the power to all fields is showing and his plate approach is improved. With Encarnación already on the Marlins 40-man roster, many are wondering if he should be called up to the major leagues soon. Moving up 13 spots is a big jump, but I think Jerar has earned it.

13. Griffin Conine (Previously #16)

Along with Jerar Encarnación, Griffin Conine has been one of the best hitters in the Marlins org (.280 BA, .348 OBP, .475 SLG, .823 OPS, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 33 H). With the amount of outfield talent in the Marlins organization it will be difficult to move Conine up to AAA, but his consistent hitting is making an interesting case. The strikeout issues are still there (36.4 K%), but not nearly as much as with the Blue Wahoos in 2021 (47.4 K%).

14. Victor Mesa Jr. (Previously #17)

The top-ranked natural center field prospect for the Marlins has gotten off to a solid start in Beloit (.240 BA, .289 OBP, .349 SLG, .638 OPS). He’s getting every chance to prove himself defensively and so far so good (58 TC, 55 PO, 3 A, 0 E, 1 DP, 1.000 FPCT%). Mesa Jr.’s start has put him a couple spots up on my list and given me some hope that one of the Mesa brothers will work out for the org.

15. Joe Mack (Previously #9)

Mack wasn’t playing until just a couple days ago due to a hamstring injury. Mack got off to a slow start as a pro in 2021—doing little other than drawing walks—but had a solid Spring Training out on the backfields in 2022. He is expected to be a riser on the next edition of this list.

16. Sixto Sánchez (Previously #5)

The biggest drop has to be Sixto. As good as he was in his first stint in the major leagues, he’s been sidelined by shoulder issues and isn’t close to coming back as of this writing. A big concern that many like me have with Sixto is his work ethic and physical conditioning. For what it’s worth, Kyle Sielaff of the Marlins Radio Network told us on Fish Stripes Unfiltered that he is trying to get better in those areas. Sixto can be at most a shutdown closer or middle reliever this season. In the meantime, he has been passed on the list by more trustworthy developing starters.

17. Dax Fulton (Previously #10)

Dax Fulton hasn’t shown me much since he began his pro career on the Marlins and hasn’t shown any consistency in the minors. Fulton should be a prime trade candidate as he can truly flourish with another team.

18. Cody Morissette (Previously #15)

The past list I was extremely high on Morissette and I still am. Morissette has shown at times that he can be an amazing hitter, putting up the best numbers of anybody at High-A Beloit (.230 BA, .329 OBP, .452 SLG, .781 OPS). Morissette definitely will be making a jump sooner rather than later. Don’t be surprised if he finishes this season at Double-A.

19. George Soriano (Previously #23)

My favorite prospect in the Marlins system got off to a solid start with Pensacola (0-1, 4.43 ERA, 22.1 IP, 29 SO, 1.433 WHIP). I see Soriano with the potential to become a shutdown reliever on the Marlins within a couple years once he earns the call-up. That opportunity could come sooner than expected as he just got promoted to Triple-A.

20. Braxton Garrett (Previously #20)

Garrett was off to a good start in AAA Jacksonville before getting held up by a shoulder impingement. Fortunately, he is on track to be starting regularly again in June. Garrett’s stuff has not been anything special in the majors, but the Marlins are hoping he can overcome that with solid control and smart sequencing.

21. Tanner Allen (Previously #28)

Another big-time riser and one of my favorite prospects this season has been Tanner Allen. Allen has truly been one of the bright spots in a bad Beloit team (.233 BA, .262 OBP, .388 SLG, .650 OPS, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 27 H) along with Cody Morissette. Allen can play the corner outfield spots as well some center field if needed.

22. Paul McIntosh (Previously Unranked)

A prospect who Alex Carver from Fish On The farm has been telling us about since the end of the 2021 season is continuing to succeed. McIntosh was an unknown prospect originally, but with solid defense and immense power, he has been able to impress many (.265 BA, .367 OBP, .451 SLG, .818 OPS, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 27 H). The new member of the top 30 makes the list because of how well he balances hitting with the defensive responsibilities of the catcher position. McIntosh is definitely knocking on the door to AAA.

For more on Paul McIntosh, here is a link to his interview from FOTF’s Swimming Upstream Podcast.

23. Josh Simpson (Previously Unranked)

I think it is time to show the Pensacola relievers some love. Josh Simpson in 14 games and 18.2 IP has a 0.00 ERA. He has been basically perfectly at AA. Simpson is only 24 years old and has a long career ahead of him. He’s got the stuff to strike people out at any level. It is unusual to get excited for a minor league bullpen guy, but Simpson is an exception.

24. Nasim Nunez (Previously #12)

Nunez glove and speed are some of the best I have seen from a Marlins minor leaguer in the past year or two. Nunez’s big issue has been his hitting—his athleticism can only take him so far with a .187 BA. Nunez drops mainly because of the emergence of other infield prospects.

25. Nick Fortes (Previously #27)

After a slow start in AAA, Fortes has been able to adjust and is now one of the better players on that team (.265 BA, .345 OBP, .392 SLG, .737 OPS, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 27 H). Fortes made his major league debut last season and was on fire throughout his stint with the Marlins. I was lucky enough to watch his first major league home run in person and can assure you that it was a bomb. By keeping up his offensive production, Fortes could challenge Payton Henry’s hold on the backup catcher role.

26. Jordan McCants (Previously #22)

The Pensacola native got off to a good start in 2021, but is still yet to play in 2022. Superior offensive production from other position players led to him dropping on the list.

27. Bennett Hostetler (Previously #30)

If Hostetler gets it going in High-A Beloit offensively like we know he’s capable of, he can be a true top 20 prospect in the Marlins org. You can tell he is working hard to learn all the little things it requires to be a catcher (Hostetler used to be an infielder).

28. Jefry Yan (Previously Unranked)

Another prospect who I have turned into a big fan of is AA reliever Jefry Yan. He has been very difficult to hit and he brings good energy to the mound (1-0, 3.31 ERA, 16.1 IP, 31 SO, 1.408 WHIP). The red flag with Yan is he’s walking almost a batter per inning.

29. Troy Johnston (Previously #24)

A very slow start in AA Pensacola has made me drop Troy Johnston a couple spots. Already behind guys like Lewin Díaz and Jerar Encarnación on the long-term first base depth chart, Johnston also is about to turn 25 years old.

30. Ronald Hernández (Previously Unranked)

Hernández is the final add to my list after receiving high praise from Swimming Upstream’s Daniel De Vivo. There are a lot of other Marlins catchers to keep an eye on, but Hernández has the ability to develop into the best of them all. We will be seeing him in the Florida Complex League soon.