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July 23, 2013

The Call-Up

Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick

by Jason Parks, Bret Sayre and Paul Sporer

The Situation: The Miami Marlins have been allergic to offensive production in 2013, developing rashes and hives whenever runs cross the plate, which has only happened 309 times in 97 games. For perspective, the Astros have similar run allergies but have managed to score 59 more runs, and I’m pretty sure I could get at-bats on that team. Looking for some offensive epinephrine, the farm is being raided and top prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick are getting the call to the majors, a youth infusion that should provide a necessary boost to a struggling lineup.

Background: Christian Yelich was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft out of high school powerhouse Westlake High School. He was viewed by many as one of the better high school bats in the entire draft. He wasted little time proving that to be the case, showing impressive bat-to-ball skills in his initial debut. Yelich has continued to rake all the way up the chain, pushing himself up prospect lists each year, plateauing as a top 10 prospect in the game on the Baseball Prospectus Mid-Season Top 50.

Jake Marisnick was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, viewed as a five-tool talent with the potential to emerge as an impact major league player. His professional debut was hit and miss on the field, but the scouting reports touted his potential, and Marisnick rewarded the hype with a breakout 2011 campaign, hitting .320 in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League as a 20-year-old. Marisnick was firmly on the prospect map, but a depressed 2012 season and subsequent trade to the Marlins dropped his stock and encouraged some in the industry to discount his status. Fully healthy and acclimating to his new org, Marisnick returned to form in 2013, and positioned himself as a top 50 prospect in the game and a realistic option at the highest level.

The Scouting: Christian Yelich has one of the purest swings in the minors, a short and powerful stroke despite the arm length. Yelich creates well above average bat speed, and as he continues to mature and learns the nuances of power, his doubles will start to turn into home runs and he could be a true middle-of-the-lineup threat. He shows good pitch-recognition skills, and his bat-to-ball ability is on par with the best in the minors, so he should be able to hit for a high average. When asked about Yelich’s offensive future, a front office source said, Yelich is the top bat for me in the minors; even better than Taveras. I think the hit tool is a 70 and I think the power shows up down the line in the 25-plus range with a ton of doubles. He’s a tough out and he’s just going to get better when he’s forced to face better. Next to Buxton and Bogaerts, we have him in that top tier of young talent in the game.”

That’s extremely high praise, but the comments aren’t out of the box. Yelich has one of the prettiest swings I’ve ever seen at the minor-league level; a delicious stroke from the left side that I’d pay money to watch in slow motion. His defensive profile isn’t quite as sexy, but he has more than enough athleticism to handle an outfield spot, although the arm is fringe so he is limited in that regard. Some see Yelich as a future first baseman, more for positional need than deficiencies in his athletic profile, which as I stated, is good enough for the outfield. At the end of the day, his bat is what will make him a name, and as a natural hitter, it shouldn’t take him long to make an impact at the major-league level. This is a very, very good hitter.

As previously mentioned, Jake Marisnick is a five-tool player, meaning he shows average or better utility across the board with his tool profile. While he lacks a singular high-end tool, the maturity of his average-to-plus collection makes him a potential impact talent at the highest level. Reports are mixed on his defensive qualities, with some that are more convinced in his long-term future in center field than others. I think he has the instincts and the range/glove to man the middle at the highest level, although he isn’t going to be confused with the Buxtons of the world at the position. But he can handle it, which elevates his overall profile and adds value to his stick, which is good but not great, showing contact ability and pop. When asked to comment on Marinick’s future in the majors, a scout suggested he “has the potential to be an all-star because he can do a little of everything. He can play all three outfield positions, even though he might be a better fit for right field down the line. He can run. He can put the bat to the ball. He can make hard contact and has a swing to put balls out of the yard. He offers a ton of value as a .275 type with 20 home runs and 20 steals from a premium position on the diamond. I’d take that in a second.” —Jason Parks

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Related Content:  Florida Marlins,  Prospects,  Scouting

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Transaction Analysis: ... (07/23)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Jarred Co... (07/12)
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