Take a journey with me to Boca Chica, where the Marlins embarked on a new era of international player development. With construction completed on their 35-acre complex in the Dominican Republic and the ink dry on countless new player contracts, they had enough talent to fill out two separate Dominican Summer League rosters. Although fairly common across Major League Baseball, the 2022 campaign was this franchise’s first experience with the two-team model.
How’d it go?
I count 82 different prospects who took the field for the Fish in DSL games, including several who emerged as must-follow guys within Miami’s farm system.
DSL Marlins (31-26)
The obvious place to start is with the toolsy José Gerardo. The 17-year-old Dominican outfielder had 37.9% of the team’s home runs by himself! He went deep five times against left-handed pitchers in only 40 plate appearances. Only two outfield assists in 259 defensive innings is a surprise considering the hype surrounding his 80-grade throwing arm, and a 30.3% strikeout rate is bad, but that’s nitpicking. If Gerardo is not a consensus Top 30 Marlins prospect already, he will be by next spring.
Right-hander Lester Nin, 18, was similarly successful on the mound. He struggled only once, interestingly during an intraorganizational matchup—assuming that’s a real word—against DSL Miami. He allowed four earned runs in that start compared to three earned runs in all of his other games combined. Nin’s curveball shows promise.
Just as much as overall results at the plate, I take notice of players who demonstrate strong discipline/pitch recognition as teenagers. New signees Byron Chourio (outfielder) and Kendry Feliz (infielder) drew nearly as many walks as strikeouts in everyday roles.
The youngest player on the DSL Marlins roster, Lisandro Bonifacio, had a bumpy transition to professional baseball. He finished the season with a 52 wRC+ (100 represents league average). While the aforementioned names are locks to come stateside for the 2023 MiLB season, Bonifacio’s next step is unclear.
DSL Marlins (20-39)
As you could probably surmise from their win-loss record, that weren’t as many clear-cut feel-good stories for DSL Miami. This team allowed nearly a run per inning during the 2022 season, undone by unforced mistakes like walks, hit batsmen and wild pitches. When so many arms have the same issues, that reflects poorly on their catching tandem of Edward Duran and Derek Vegas.
Venezuelan right-hander Santiago Suárez led DSL Miami’s pitching staff in most counting stats. He seemingly induced a lot of harmless, soft contact.
Classified as a two-way player entering 2022, Darwin Rodríguez has only been used as a pitcher so far. Like many of his teammates, he suffered from a lack of control (24.0 IP, 26 BB, 5 HBP, 10 WP).
Infielder Yoffry Solano received the largest bonus ($750,000) among all members of the latest Marlins international signing class. He initially missed nearly a month of action on the injured list, but finished strong. Solano struck out only twice over his final 45 plate appearances of the season.
Switch-hitting Bahamian outfielder Toby Simmons was another bright spot. He posted a .370 on-base percentage from the left side and a .375 on-base percentage from the right side (though all of his power came as a lefty).