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Fish Stripes Top 30: 2023 Pre-Draft Edition

An updated look at the top Miami Marlins prospects.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Eury Perez (39) makes his MLB debut as he makes the start for the Marlins during the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Miami Marlins on Friday, May 12, 2023 at LoanDepot Park, Miami, Fla. Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For a low-budget franchise like the Miami Marlins, scouting and player development will always be crucial. To ultimately compete at the major league level, the Fish must first identify players with promising talent and makeup, then bring out the best in them. Some will matriculate to Miami’s roster, while others will be flipped elsewhere for more complementary pieces, and the reality is, some won’t succeed as pros, derailed by injuries, exploitable weaknesses and/or personal issues. That’s why continually assessing young players is a key part of the process—how do we value them right now and where is that value going to be at the trade deadline, next offseason or multiple years down the road?

Frankly, the Marlins have not done a great job at this and there have been consequences, such as the firings of executives Gary Denbo and Geoff DeGroot during the past year. By any objective measure, the quality of this farm system was average or worse entering 2023. That’s even with a huge boost from their consensus No. 1 prospect, Eury Pérez, who is on track to graduate from eligibility in the coming months. There are plenty of other guys progressing nicely so far this season, however.

At Fish Stripes, we are highlighting the best prospects in Miami’s pipeline, ranked by their projected MLB production.

Stats updated through May 21 (Minor League Baseball regular season games only)
Stats updated through May 21 (Minor League Baseball regular season games only)
Stats updated through May 21 (Minor League Baseball regular season games only)
Stats updated through May 21 (Minor League Baseball regular season games only)

Expect our next Top 30 update to be published in August following the MLB Draft and MLB trade deadline.

1) Eury Pérez

Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/Getty Images

Current level: MLB

In parts of two seasons with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (AA), Eury Pérez put up a 3.57 ERA and 3.58 FIP in 106.0 IP, rarely facing a batter younger than himself. Particularly over his final four starts in the Southern League, it became obvious that he was ready for a new challenge. Rather than bump the homegrown right-hander up to Triple-A, the Marlins made the aggressive decision to plug him into their MLB rotation.

With a fastball that sits 96-97 mph (topping out at 100), Eury also uses a changeup, curveball, and slider. His nasty changeup bears some resemblance to Sandy Alcantara’s—this should come as no coincidence since they were all working together throughout this past offseason and during Spring Training. Both breaking balls are already average or better pitches, according to Aram Leighton of Just Baseball.

Extra-tall pitchers historically have trouble locating their stuff. That’s what makes the 6’8” Eury special. His walk rate has been lower than the league average at every level, thanks to a smooth, repeatable delivery.

Eury made his first major league start on May 12, where he went 4 23 innings, struck out seven, walked two, and gave up two runs (both on solo home runs). The next time he took the mound, he was even better (5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR). Most recently against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday,

Considering his limited professional experience, it goes without saying that Eury is an unfinished product. However, he has the ceiling of a true major league ace.

Next steps for Pérez: prove he can go beyond six innings/90 pitches; more consistent changeup

2) Dax Fulton

Photo by Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Current level: AA (IL)

In 2022, Dax Fulton was second only to Eury among Marlins MiLB starters with a strikeout rate of nearly 30%. By also limiting free passes and homers, he had an excellent 3.08 FIP with the Beloit Sky Carp (A+) and kept it going with a 3.11 FIP following his promotion to AA. Fulton saved his best for last—with the Blue Wahoos on the brink of elimination in the Southern League playoffs, he struck out 13 in a must-win game.

Dax’s signature pitch continues to be his curveball. Last year, he also began using a harder, more slider-like version of it when ahead in the count. The fastball currently sits around 92-95 mph. He occasionally mixes in a high-80s changeup, but doesn’t command it precisely.

Entering his age-21 season, Fulton did not impress during the brief game action he received as a non-roster invitee at big league camp this spring. Upon returning to Pensacola, he had trouble putting batters away throughout the month of April. Just when it seemed as though he was getting back on track, he was placed on the injured list on May 18. Assuming the injury isn’t serious, Fulton could emerge as a rotation candidate for the Marlins at some point in 2024.

Next steps for Fulton: get healthy; larger velo separation between fastball and changeup

3) Yiddi Cappe

Photo by Beloit Sky Carp

Current level: A+

The tall, lean Cuban infielder signed with the Marlins for a $3.5 million bonus. Cappe took home Minor League Player of the Year honors last season at only 19 years old (to be fair, there weren’t many other great position player candidates in the organization). He slashed .290/.328/.438 in 67 total games with the Jupiter Hammerheads (A) and FCL Marlins (Rk) while playing most of his defensive innings at shortstop.

Even though there is a lot of room for Cappe to continue adding muscle, he’s been making loud contact as it is. His ability to make so much contact in the first place is impressive for a player with such long limbs and limited MiLB reps.

In Beloit, Cappe is spending almost all of his time at second base. He got off to an amazing start at the plate, but slumped badly in the month of May.

Next steps for Cappe: stop chasing high fastballs outside the zone

4) Jake Eder

Photo by Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Current level: AA (IL)

Next steps for Eder: get healthy

5) Max Meyer

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Current level: MLB (IL)

Next steps for Meyer:

6) Jacob Berry

Photo by Danis Sosa/Fish Stripes

Current level: A+

The Miami Marlins 2022 first-round selection has had his highs and lows throughout his short Marlins organizational tenure. For Berry, the issue has never been the bat as much as the questionable defense, but this season, both the offense and the defense have been the issue. Berry has made four errors through 153 innings playing third base and is slashing .160/.181/.296/.477 with one home run and 10 RBIs. The LSU product is striking out at a 28.9% rate and walking at a 2.4% rate. The hope for Berry would be to have him move to either first base or left field to see if he can simply just focus on the offensive end which is a big reason why he was drafted.

At this moment in time, it is hard to decide what the future for Berry will look like, but if he can just get it going with the bat and have consistency, then the organization as a whole can figure out where to put him on defense.

Next steps for Berry: switch to easier defensive position (corner OF or 1B)

7) Kahlil Watson


Current level: A+

After a 2022 season that was filled with ups and downs, 2021 first-round pick, Kahlil Watson, was able to go through a whole off-season of preparation for the 2023 season where despite an ankle injury early on that sidelined him for a couple of weeks, he has looked really good slashing .298/.417/.468/.885 with one home run and four RBIs.

A very encouraging improvement that we have seen from Watson is the low strikeout rate he has been able to produce thus far. Going from a 35.5% K rate with High-A Beloit in 2022 to now being at a 20.0% K rate and 18.3% walk rate this season, shows the improvement at the plate to be less aggressive, which has led to positive results as he is currently at a 152 wRC+.

If Watson can find some of the power that we know he has and drive in some runs at the rate that he is currently hitting, then Miami could possibly have themselves a blue chip prospect that will be on many top 100 prospects lists.

Defensively, Watson has been the Sky Carps shortstop, and it seems like he will continue to play shortstop throughout his development in the minor leagues. Watson has only made two errors thus far, but that is something that comes with the position. As for his arm strength, MLB Pipeline has Watson with a 60-grade arm, which for the position is good.

Next steps for Watson:

8) Nasim Nuñez

Photo by Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Current level: AA

After being a below-average offensive prospect for the last couple of seasons, Nuñez was arguably one of the most improved prospects in the 2022 season. Slashing .247/.390/.323/.714 with an 18.8% walk rate, 27.2% strikeout rate, and a 112 wRC+, Nuñez earned the promotion to AA where he began making a lot more bat-to-ball contact and slashed .261/.371/.303/.673 with a 14.1% walk rate and 90 wRC+.

In 2023, Nuñez has gotten off to a hot start and has made multiple improvements offensively. Nuñez continues to be an on-base machine as he has a .413 OBP and is walking at an 18.1% walk rate which is the second-highest of his career.

A big issue for Nuñez throughout his minor league career has been the lack of power that he has. Thus far in 2023, Nasim has the highest slugging percentage of his career at .383 and his three home runs have all been to the opposite field.

Defensively, Nuñez has no business moving positions as he is the best defensive shortstop in the organization. His quickness and athleticism to make plays are a big reason for his success thus far.

Nasim Nuñez will definitely be someone who will be rated higher on this list once there is a possible update to be made as he is outperforming guys above him such as Ian Lewis and Jacob Berry, but it is too early to tell if this offensive improvement will be something that is consistent and something that can translate to not only the next level of minor league baseball but the major leagues.

Next steps for Nuñez:

9) Jacob Amaya

Photo by Kevin Barral/Fish Stripes

Current level: AAA

Acquired by Miami this off-season in exchange for starting shortstop Miguel Rojas, Amaya is a glove-first shortstop prospect who broke out with the bat in 2022. In 133 games across AA and AAA, Amaya slashed .261/.369/.427 along with 17 homers and 20 doubles. It was easily his highest slugging season in affiliated ball. To begin 2023, Miami sent him to AAA Jacksonville where after a slow start, he has raised his OPS to .730 and has slugged close to .400. I expect him to make his Major League debut some time this season.

Next steps for Amaya:

10) Ian Lewis

Photo by Kevin Barral/Fish Stripes

Current level: A

Next steps for Lewis:

11) Peyton Burdick

Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/Getty Images

Current level: MLB

Next steps for Burdick: shorten his swing

12) Xavier Edwards

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Current level: MLB

Next steps for Edwards: getting more reps in CF

13) Victor Mesa Jr.

Photo by Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Current level: AA

After a solid showing with the Beloit Sky Carp in 2022 where he slashed .243/.323/.346/.779 with 50 RBIs. What helped Mesa Jr. in 2022 was the defense that he played well in CF. Despite an 89 wRC+ in 2022, Mesa Jr. showed that there is improvement still to be made and that there is a lot that he is doing well in terms of his approach at the plate.

In 2023, VMJ has been a lot more aggressive and it is paying off. Slashing .298/.351/.488/.839 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Mesa Jr. is sporting a 131 wRC+. Mesa Jr. has also looked good in the outfield, but it is hard to say if he will be playing center field at the major league level with guys like Jazz who has already made the adjustment, and Jake Mangum who is currently in AAA putting up some very nice numbers.

If Mesa Jr. were to be given the promotion to AAA, then it wouldn’t be shocking if we see him in one of the corner outfield spots which wouldn’t be a bad move for him since he can play all three spots efficiently.

Next steps for Mesa:

14) Jacob Miller

Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Current level: A

Next steps for Miller:

15) Karson Milbrandt


Current level: A

Next steps for Milbrandt:

16) Joe Mack

Current level: A+

Next steps for Mack:

17) Jordan Groshans

Current level: AAA

Next steps for Groshans:

18) Jerar Encarnación

Current level: AAA

After mashing in AA and AAA, Jerar Encarnacion forced his way up to the big leagues and had some success in certain games, but overall, his cup of coffee was a disapointing one as he slashed .182/.210/.338/.548 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

In Spring Training, Jerar began playing a lot more first base since that is not only a position he played often, but also is a need in the organization as Garrett Coop (currently on the 10-day IL) and Yuli Gurriel (38 years old) are the only first baseman on the active 26-man roster. Jerar would be the next first baseman up to back up Yuli.

Thus far in 2023, Jerar is slashing .271/.382/.457/.839 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. Jerar is also sporting a 116 wRC+ which is the highest it has been since he was in AA last season.

The big issue for Jerar that may be keeping him down in AAA is the 39.3% strikeout rate. Jerar likes to be an aggressive hitter and find the big swing, but that is what may be holding him back at this current moment.

Jerar is still a top-30 prospect because of what he can be if he cut down on the strikeout rate and just looked to make more contact than power. Jerar also had a respectable spring training where he slashed .240/.375/.320/.695 and he walked six times against 13 strikeouts.

19) José Gerardo

Current status: awaiting assignment

Next steps for Gerardo:

20) Marco Vargas

Current status: awaiting assignment

Next steps for Vargas: stateside production

21) Antony Peguero

Current status: awaiting assignment

Next steps for Peguero: stateside production

22) Paul McIntosh

Current level: AA (IL)

With McIntosh, the bat has never been the issue as he slashed .258/.379/.465/.844 with 13 home runs, 51 RBIs, and a 125 wRC+. The issue for PMAC is the defense as a catcher. He struggled a lot last season as he committed 15 errors at the position. He caught 17 stealing and allowed five passed balls in the 2022 season. In Spring Training, McIntosh did work a lot on his defense and it showed throughout the Spring Training games and in the backfields when he caught lives.

In 2023, McIntosh and many of the guys who were on the 2022 championship squad were kept in Pensacola despite the season they had. Wahoos coach Kevin Randel told the media on Wahoos media day that McIntosh would be playing left field once a week, and that has been the case thus far. In the two games he has played there, he has four putouts and even had a double play.

Offensively, McIntosh has gotten even better. In the 13 games he has played, he is slashing .286/.368/.551/.919 with four home runs, 15 RBIs, and a 148 wRC+. Pmac currently finds himself injured and on the IL, so once he returns, the key for him will be how he can continue to improve defensively and if he can man left field to a certain level.

There is a lot of room to grow for McIntosh but with the uncertainty of where he will play, it is hard to rank him higher on the list as well as just the overall better talent that is in front of him.

Next steps for McIntosh: get healthy;

23) Ronald Hernández

Current status: awaiting assignment

24) Troy Johnston

Current level: AA

Despite Johnston being named a AA All-Star, he was sent back to AA due to the way that the organization handled the AAA assignments. In 2022, there was a point where Troy was arguably the hottest hitter in minor-league baseball and it wasn’t even close. Towards the end of the season, Johnston was promoted to AAA Jacksonville where he struggled and couldn’t get anything going.

In 2023, Johnston told the media prior to the season that he wanted to be someone who stole more bases, was more aggressive on the base paths, and just repeat as an All-Star. In the off-season, Johnston shedded 10 pounds of weight but assured that he hasn’t lost any of his power and is in fact feeling a lot better about entering the season.

Through 124 plate appearances, Troy is slashing .233/.355/.544/.899 with six home runs, 22 RBIs, eight doubles, three triples, and two stolen bases. You definitely can notice that Johnston, who only had one triple in 2022 is improving on his base running.

The one thing that may be holding Johnston back is just the difficulty that we see from one level to another. This is something that we see in all minor leaguers, but for Johnston, it was evident when he was promoted to AAA and then eventually when he was a part of big league camp where he struggled. If he can maybe spend some time in AAA, which is hopefully soon, then we can see Troy work through his struggles and make an impact soon.

Luckily, with Garrett Cooper on the 10-day IL and on a one-year deal, the only first baseman that is on the Marlins active roster is Yuli Gurriel who is 38 and also on a one-year deal. The chances to see Johnston play at LoanDepot Park are fairly high as he would be the next in line when it comes to a natural first baseman in the organization.

Next steps for Johnston:

25) Cody Morissette

Current level: AA

Fish Stripes original GIF

Next steps for Morissette:

26) Evan Fitterer

Current level: AA

Next steps for Fitterer:

27) Yoffry Solano

Current status: awaiting assignment

Next steps for Solano: stateside production

28) Janero Miller

Current status: awaiting assignment

Next steps for Miller:

29) George Soriano

Current level: AAA

Soriano has already made his major league debut, but is good enough to crack the top 30 list. Despite a debut where he was mostly successful, he did have a lot of luck involved in his short stint with the team as guys would hit him hard, but would stay in the ballpark thanks to the LoanDepot dimensions.

Soriano is a three-pitch guy that has a slider that really stands out. Soriano’s slider is a true wipeout pitch that can put away hitters, but in his short stint, when luck was mentioned there are stats to back it up. With a 36.0% groundball rate, 40.0% Hard Hit rate, and 36.0% fly ball percentage.

Although Soriano’s days as a starter are long gone, Soriano being able to pitch in the back end of a bullpen like he has done with AAA and towards the end of his stint in AA is definitely something that he can do, but there is no reason that Soriano should be in the minors.

Next steps for Soriano:

30) Patrick Monteverde

Current level: AA

Monteverde turned 24 years old within a few months of his pro debut. He’s been performing at a very high level, but there’s only so much you can learn about a prospect when they’re frequently facing younger competition. He has the lowest fastball velocity among any of our ranked pitchers. His ability to locate his heaters at the top of the zone and throw his secondaries for strikes has allowed him to thrive in spite of that.

Next steps for Monteverde: generate more ground balls

Honorable Mentions

  • RHP Nic Enright (MLB, IL)
  • OF Jake Mangum (AAA)
  • OF Brian Miller (AAA)
  • UTIL Dane Myers (AA)
  • RHP Sixto Sánchez (AAA, IL)
  • LHP Josh Simpson (AAA, IL)