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February 12, 2014

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Miami Marlins Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Marlins list

The Top Ten

  1. LHP Andrew Heaney
  2. 3B Colin Moran
  3. CF Jake Marisnick
  4. RHP Trevor Williams
  5. RHP Nick Wittgren
  6. RHP Jose Urena
  7. LHP Justin Nicolino
  8. RHP Anthony DeSclafani
  9. LHP Brian Flynn
  10. OF Jesus Solorzano

1. Andrew Heaney
Position: LHP
DOB: 06/05/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater,
OK)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2013 Stats: 2.94 ERA (33.2 IP, 31 H, 23 K, 9 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville, 0.88 ERA (61.2 IP, 45 H, 66 K, 17 BB) at High-A Jupiter
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6+ potential SL: 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Heaney really stepped forward in 2013, jumping from a “wait and see” college arm to a bona fide high-end prospect, pitching his way to the Double-A level in his first full season.

Strengths: Athletic and fluid delivery; good balance and tempo; arm works well; fastball is creeper pitch in the low-mid-90s; good deception in the delivery allows it to jump on hitters; velo ticks up deep into games; can touch 96+ when he needs it; slider is plus offering; multiple looks; can throw in the zone or chase; good vertical depth; turns over an average changeup; could play above average; repeats with good command profile.

Weaknesses: Needs to add strength to frame; fastball can play down early in games; will work 89-93 with some arm-side; slider can get too slurvy and loose; changeup has some vertical dive but lacks high projection; good control; command still needs refinement; can hang around the plate too much.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; limited Double-A experience; arsenal and pitchability for major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Heaney is going to be the next prospect to take advantage of the Marlins’ team philosophy on promoting players quickly and is likely to have some real fantasy value in 2014. He should be a very even fantasy performer, contributing nearly equally in all four categories. With the ballpark behind him and weak division in front of him, he can put up a 3.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 170 strikeouts at peak.

The Year Ahead: Heaney is the top lefty starter prospect in the minors, with three average or better offerings and an athletic and fluid delivery that allows for strike-throwing ability. The fastball can play up or down, and the slider is both a chase pitch and a get-over offering when he needs to drop a strike. The changeup isn’t a big weapon yet, but offers enough to keep righty bats honest with the fastball, and as the fastball controls continues to refine into command, Heaney will be able to keep hitters from both sides of the plate off balance. It’s a very nice profile, and several sources think Heaney has the stuff and polish to start in the majors in 2014. Even if he doesn’t break camp with the team, it won’t be long until the 22-year-old joins Jose Fernandez in the Marlins rotation.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Colin Moran
Position: 3B
DOB: 10/01/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: .299/.354/.442 at Low-A Greensboro (42 games)
The Tools: 7 potential hit; 5+ potential power; 6 arm

What Happened in 2013: A legit 1:1 candidate in the 2013 draft, Moran fell to the Marlins with the sixth overall pick, and he started hitting immediately at the full-season level.

Strengths: Natural hitter; excellent bat-to-ball; excellent hand/eye; makes hard contact to all fields; swing has some leverage and power potential; hit tool could be a 7; power could play above average; arm is strong enough for third.

Weaknesses: Questions about game power; more of a line-drive stroke; can get tied up by arm-side stuff; not a great defender at third; well below-average run limits range or defensive versatility in the outfield; some makeup concerns re: work ethic/dedication to baseball.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; hit tool is legit; questions about power and defensive profile

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s certainly upside here with Moran, especially if he can develop into a 20-homer hitter, but if the power doesn’t develop, the skill set isn’t that sexy for fantasy. A near .300 average at a below-average position is great and he should move fast, but fantasy owners may also have Stockholm Syndrome from waiting on the last UNC product with a very strong hit tool to develop into something.

The Year Ahead: Moran is going to hit the baseball, and that alone gives him the floor of a major-league regular. While the relatively safe floor is a selling point, the ultimate upside is the sex appeal, with a 7 potential bat and 5+ power potential, a third baseman with the ability to hit .300 and rip 15-plus bombs a season. Moran isn’t a great athlete, and some of his run times to first base are closer to 20-grade than anything else. But he has enough chops at third to stick around, and if the power can creep into the game without a big sacrifice from the hit tool, the offensive production will more than make up for a fringe-average profile at third. His bat is ready for a fast-track through the minors, and he should position himself for a role on the 25-man by 2015.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Jake Marisnick
Position: CF
DOB: 03/30/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 225 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2009 draft, Riverside Poly HS (Riverside, CA)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #71 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .183/.231/.248 at major-league level (40 games), .294/.358/.502 at
Double-A Jacksonville (67 games), .200/.200/.267 at High-A Jupiter (3 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 6 run; 6 glove; 6 power potential; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: Marisnick was promoted to the majors in late July, and despite 40 games and over 100 at-bats at that level, remains rookie (and therefore prospect) eligible.

Strengths: Can show all five-tools; very athletic; excellent size/strength; run is plus; arm is plus; glove can play to plus; shows above-average power potential.

Weaknesses: Hit tool is shaky; struggles against quality secondary stuff; struggles to adjust against bad guesses; athleticism for center but doesn’t always make it look easy.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The fantasy upside has remained the same for Marisnick, even if he’s firmly planted in post-hype prospect territory. A potential 20-homer and 20-steal outfielder, he will be in a fight for playing time to start 2014, but a job should be his by the All-Star break. If he does in fact end up back in Triple-A, it may be a good time to buy low from his likely frustrated owner.

The Year Ahead: Marisnick really struggled in his major-league debut, especially against quality off-speed stuff, but many sources felt he was rushed to the level and wasn’t ready for the speed of the major-league game. The problem with Marisnick’s five-tool profile is the hit tool, as it’s currently below average and lacks the same game impact as some of his other now tools. Several sources love the player but have doubts about the hittability, as the swing is good but the bat speed isn’t special and the feel for hitting can be lacking at times, especially against quality stuff. As a versatile defender with wheels and power potential, Marisnick can find value on a field even if the hit tool drags down the overall profile, but he could be a first-division player if the bat can play to solid-average. Some seasoning in the upper minors could benefit the soon-to-be 23-year-old, but you can’t simulate the quality of talent (and speed of the game) in the minors, so learning to fail and recover at the highest level will be a necessary part of the developmental process.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

4. Trevor Williams
Position: RHP
DOB: 04/25/1992
Height/Weight: 6’3” 228 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013 draft, Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 0.00 ERA (3 IP, 2 H, 3 K, 0 BB) at Low-A Greensboro, 2.48 ERA (29 IP, 26 H, 20 K, 8 BB) at short-season Batavia, 4.50 ERA (2 IP, 3 H, 1 K, 0 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 6 FB; 5+ SL; 5 CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2013: The 44th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Williams is a polished college arm who felt the wear of a long season after signing, as the stuff was just a tick down from his established collegiate standard.

Strengths: Big, strong frame; arm works well; throws downhill; shows multiple fastball looks; heavy two-seamer in the 90-93 range; shows lively 93-95 mph fastball with more arm-side tail; multiple breaking ball looks; mid-70s downer curveball; harder breaker in the low-80s; two-plane action with more slider-like tilt; turns over an average low-80s changeup; plays well off fastball; has strike-throwing ability; aggressive approach; not afraid to challenge hitters.

Weaknesses: Thick build that could be high maintenance; some effort in the delivery; command is loose; secondary stuff lacks wipeout projection; curveball is more show/sight line; changeup isn’t big weapon; more present than projection.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited professional record; mature arsenal

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Williams is a big boy with the potential to log a lot of innings, though he’ll need all of those innings to rack up average strikeout number for a fantasy starter. He’s worth gambling on (especially in deeper leagues) with a third or fourth round dynasty draft pick this year.

The Year Ahead: Williams is ready to move quickly in the Marlins system, most likely starting in High-A with a good chance to reach Double-A during the summer. With a fresh arm, Williams is going to pound the zone with his fastball looks, showing feel for changing speeds, and using his hard breaking ball to miss bats. The secondary arsenal isn’t overwhelming, but he can mix his pitches and pitch well off the fastball, so he should find sustainable success in a rotation as long as he can set the table with the heater. The ceiling is a mid-rotation arm, but the present polish gives him a high floor and the opportunity for an accelerated developmental path to the majors. He should move up this list with a strong 2014, and could compete for a rotation spot at some point in 2015.

Major league ETA: 2015

5. Nick Wittgren
Position: RHP
DOB: 05/29/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 9th round, 2012 draft, Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 0.83 era (54.1 IP, 42 H, 10 BB, 63 K) at High-A Jupiter; 0.00 era (4 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2013: In his first full season, Wittgren blew up the Florida State League and then turned heads in the Arizona Fall League, where the 22-year-old only allowed eight baserunners in 13 appearances.

Strengths: Excellent pitchability; repeatable mechanics; good balance and timing; fastball works 90-93; can spot it up; work east/west; good deception in the release; can get swings/misses with solid-avg. velocity; backs up fastball with quality hard curveball; upper 70s with tight rotation; mixes in low-80s changeup; good action and plays well off the fastball; sharp overall command; late-innings approach.

Weaknesses: Lacks a standard late-innings fastball; pitch can work pedestrian in the 90-91 range; has to spot it up for success; delivery has effort (he makes it work); smaller margin of error than closers.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; late-innings reliever (closer)

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; mature arsenal; limited exposure to upper-minors.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but the pure relief profile is not something that dynasty league owners should be spending much time worrying about. The risk is twofold, as you're dealing with both performance and role anxiety. But if your league is deep enough, Wittgren is one of the better ones to speculate on.

The Year Ahead: I don’t often rank relievers high on prospect lists, and I rarely go high on late-innings relievers that lack big heat and rely on location more than dominating stuff. But Wittgren can really pitch, and despite a fastball that plays in the low 90s and not the upper 90s, the ability to locate the offering forces bats to move, which then allows his solid-average (to plus) secondary stuff to really play up and miss bats. If he can maintain his delivery and continue to show sharp command, the ceiling is a closer at the major-league level, with a more likely outcome as a legit setup option at the back of a bullpen. Wittgren should return to Double-A to start the year, but should be pitching in games that count at some point over the summer.

Major league ETA: 2014

6. Jose Urena
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/12/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 175 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: 3.73 ERA (149.2 IP, 148 H, 107 K, 29 BB) at High-A Jupiter
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential CH; 5 potential SL

What Happened in 2013: In his continued journey up the professional ranks, the projectable Dominican arm logged another heavy workload, making 26 starts and logging close to 150 innings.

Strengths: Easy cheese arm; from ¾ slot, creates good angle with near elite arm speed; fastball works comfortably in the 92-95 range; can bump elite velocity in bursts; turns over quality changeup; plays up because of arm speed and power of fastball; slider can flash average potential; can drop it for strikes; body to hold more strength/weight; good control.

Weaknesses: Needs to add strength; can struggle with arm heavy/whippy delivery throughout a game; tendency to lose crispness of stuff (fastball velo); lacks above-average breaking ball; more of a get-over pitch; overall command is fringe; power arm that can struggle to put away hitters; limited pitchability.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; arm for late-innings work; yet to pitch at Double-A level.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s certainly fantasy potential with Urena, but the most likely outcome is still him serving up cheese in the Marlins’ pen. That would give him a shot at fantasy value, but again, it would be out of his (above-average) control. If he does make it to the rotation, he’ll have a tough time getting punch outs at a rate his fastball deserves without a big jump in the breaking ball.

The Year Ahead: Urena has a special arm, but you won’t find many sources that see a long term starter in the profile; rather, most see a future late-innings reliever, one complete with a near elite fastball in bursts and two usable off-speed pitches, including a plus changeup. I get that profile and can respect the likely role, but I’m still onboard the starter bus at present. The 22-year-old arm continues to take steps forward on the mound, and even without great feel, has more room to add pitchability to his game and improve his secondary utility. The fastball is a major-league pitch, so he’s going to find success in some role at the end of the day. Double-A will be a big test, either pushing Urena toward his future in the bullpen or changing the minds of those who doubt his bona fides to start.

Major league ETA: 2015

7. Justin Nicolino
Position: LHP
DOB: 11/22/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2010 draft, University HS (Orlando, FL)
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org), #73 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 4.96 ERA (45.1 IP, 63 H, 31 K, 12 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville, 2.23 ERA (96.2 IP, 89 H, 64 K, 18 BB) at High-A Jupiter
The Tools: 5 FB; 6+ CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: Nicolino pitched his way to the Double-A level but saw his prospect stock fall because he found more barrels than he missed.

Strengths: Good size; clean delivery; repeatable mechanics; fastball can set the table when he hits his spots; works upper-80s/low-90s; some arm-side life; changeup is best offering; fastball disguise with some late sink; shows average curveball; good pitchability; command profile projects to be plus.

Weaknesses: Lacks big arm strength; fastball is average offering; working in fringe-to-solid average velocity; changeup is really nice pitch but lacks huge action; curveball is average; command has to be special to achieve ceiling.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter/middle relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; 9 Double-A starts

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Like Robbie Erlin, Nicolino is in the perfect spot to maximize his fantasy value—which makes him a better bet in our game than real life. A strong command profile will help him keep low WHIPs and a big ballpark will help keep his ERA around league average. He’s better than he showed at Double-A, but this is not a frontline fantasy arm by any means.

The Year Ahead: Nicolino is a classic overrated prospect in the minors, a command/control profile with very good changeup who can dominate the lower levels but lacks the punch to miss more advanced bats. Pitchers who can spot up their arsenals will find success in the minors, but as you move up the chain, the command needs to be very good to find success with only an average fastball/breaking ball, and as good as Nicolino’s command looks, its far from elite. The margin of error is small, and without an uptick in velocity or breaking ball intensity, it’s hard to see Nicolino finding sustainable success against better competition. It’s a back-end starter/middle reliever for me.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Anthony DeScalfani
Position: RHP
DOB: 04/18/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2011 draft, University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 3.36 ERA (75 IP, 74 H, 62 K, 14 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville, 1.67 ERA (54 IP, 48 H, 53 K, 9 BB) at High-A Jupiter
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: The 23-year-old pitched his way to the Double-A level, finishing strong with an impressive run through the Southern League.

Strengths: Athletic and aggressive on the mound; arm works well; fastball comfortable in the 90-94 range; can gain velo throughout games; good angle and late zip; slider is solid-average to plus offering; short and sharp; can turn over decent changeup; average but playable and used in sequence; good command profile.

Weaknesses: Arsenal is more solid-average than special; fastball can play below plus; aggressive approach can put balls in danger zones; struggles when he elevates; breaking ball lacks big, wipeout break; more about missing barrels than bats; changeup isn’t a weapon.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (7th inning)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; achieved Double-A level; FB/SL for bullpen.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If you’re in a points league, or one that counts K/BB ratio in your format, DeSclafani gets a tick up for you. Congratulations! For everyone else, he is just a middling potential starting option who is best left for deep leagues. The strikeouts have been pretty good at the minor-league level, but don’t expect him to miss a ton of bats in the show.

The Year Ahead: DeSclafani is going to be a major-league arm, but the ultimate role still seems to be up in the air. He has the body/delivery and arsenal to start, but he lacks power stuff; although, the fastball does show the ability to get into the mid-90s in bursts. The command is solid but he likes to challenge hitters and can run into trouble when he elevates, and his secondary arsenal will struggle to play multiple times through a major-league lineup. His likely role will come out of the bullpen, where his stuff can play up a bit and the short-burst style will be better suited for his overall approach. He could continue in the Double-A rotation to start 2014 but could break into the majors in a relief role at some point during the season.

Major league ETA: 2014

9. Brian Flynn
Position: LHP
DOB: 04/19/1990
Height/Weight: 6’7” 240 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 7th round, 2011 draft, Wichita State University (Wichita, KS)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 8.50 ERA (18 IP, 27 H, 15 K, 13 BB) at major-league level, 2.80 ERA (138 IP, 127 H, 122 K, 40 BB) at Triple-A New Orleans, 1.57 ERA (23 IP, 18 H, 25 K, 3 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5 SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: The large lefty hit three spots on the year, including a late-season major-league call up, but his command never made the trip to Miami.

Strengths: Abnormally large human; creates tough angles from ¾ slot; whippy arm; fastball plays solid-average; will work low 90s; can touch higher; good low-80s slider; sharp tilt; lower-70s curveball that he can drop for strikes; changeup can show average; plays well off the fastball; good strike-thrower with pitchability.

Weaknesses: Big stuff but lacks big stuff; fastball can play down in the upper-80s/90 range; long action and arm swing can effect command; slider can get slurvy and loose; curveball shows early hump and can lack deception; steal-a-strike pitch; changeup lacks much projection.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter/long relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: On the bright side, being in Miami is probably the best thing for Flynn’s fantasy value. On the other side, he’s somewhat likely to never carry any value non-deep leagues. He’s not nearly as horrific as his major league numbers from 2013 would suggest, but even if he had a rotation spot, the ratios would be middling, the strikeouts would be poor and the wins would be non-existent.

The Year Ahead: Flynn can execute a four-pitch mix from the left side, and with his size and strike-throwing, profiles has a backend starter at the major-league level. Its more control than command, and without improved stuff, the ceiling isn’t much higher than the floor, which is an unexceptional long reliever. Assuming the control he showed in the upper minors returns, he should be able to spot his fastball, keep hitters off balance with his secondary stuff, and chew some innings in back of the rotation role.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

10. Jesus Solorzano
Position: OF
DOB: 08/08/1990
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: On the Rise
2013 Stats: .285/.325/.450 at Low-A Greensboro (129 games)
The Tools: 6 run; 6 arm; 6+ power potential

What Happened in 2013: After four short-season campaigns, the toolsy Venezuelan finally arrived at the full-season level, showing off the power and speed, hitting 47 extra-base hits and swiping 33 bags.

Strengths: Loud tools; runs well; runs smart; big raw pop; generates plus bat speed and can lift the ball; more gap-to-gap right now; Five o’clock power impressive; range for center; arm for right; very good base stealer/runner.

Weaknesses: Hit tool and approach could limit power/profile; trigger can be slow; attacks fastballs but can struggle against sequence; limited bat control; aggressive approach; poor reads/routes in center; better fit for corner despite speed.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular/bench outfielder

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; questionable hit tool; yet to play in upper minors.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The stat line in High-A was whiplash inducing from a potential fantasy standpoint, but this is not the type of performance that should be expected at the major league level. The steals are more real than the power, but it could all come together in a very nice fantasy package if he can get on base.

The Year Ahead: Signed in 2009 but didn’t reach the full-season level until 2013, the Marlins have been slow with Solorzano, whose overall approach is immature and could end up limiting his rise in the minors. The toolsy outfielder will move to the Florida State League in 2014, where the 23-year-old will face better arms with better secondary stuff, which given his fastball-hungry and aggressive approach, could expose him. But the pop and the speed are legit, and if he can take a step forward with the approach, he might just surprise some people and emerge as a prospect worth paying closer attention to. As of now, sources seem to like the tools but fear the ability to adjust and the approach, so 2014 will be a big test.

Major league ETA: 2016


Prospects on the Rise:
1. LHP Jarlin Garcia:
One of the better young arms I saw in short-season ball in 2013, Garcia has a chance to really step forward in full-season ball. The 21-year-old lefty has a good feel for pitching, with a clean and athletic delivery, and a crisp fastball, and as he adds strength and refines his secondary arsenal, he should blossom into a top 10 prospect in this system. I like this arm.

2. 3B J.T. Riddle: Thirteenth round pick in 2013, Riddle didn’t look the part in his professional debut, but reports from instructional league were glowing, as the 22-year-old can spray the ball all over the field and can play on the left side of the infield. Because of his maturity, the Marlins could get aggressive with his development and push him to the Florida State League to start the season, where Riddle might just surprise people with his solid-average skills.

3. SS Javier Lopez: Six-figure talent from the Dominican Republic, Lopez has impact projections, but a long way to go before he starts to actualize on the field. Having watched Lopez several times in 2013, I can see the tools; flashy glove and arm at short and legit bat speed at the plate. The defensive skills need a lot of refinement, and the bat wasn’t ready for the college-heavy New York-Penn League, but as he matures, this is a player to keep tabs on. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lopez is an “On the Rise” type for a few years before he really emerges as a top talent. But I like it.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. RHP Arquimedes Caminero: Let’s not overthink things here. First of all, any 6’4’’, 255 lb. pitcher named Arquimedes belongs on a list, regardless of the list. Secondly—and most important—Caminero can really bring the heat, working with a mid-upper-90s fastball that can touch 100, backing up the smoke with a trapdoor splitter and a slider that can miss bats. Command is loose, but if he can throw strikes with his near elite fastball, he’s going to find sustainable success at the back of a major-league bullpen.

2. LHP Adam Conley: Conley has a good case for inclusion on the top 10 list, as he’s a lefty with a starter’s arsenal and some strike-throwing ability. But the realities of his delivery and arsenal limit his upside in a rotation; more of a backend type with a good low-90s fastball and a good change. But out of the bullpen, the stuff could tick up a bit and make him a legit bullpen weapon, especially against left-handed bats, who struggles to pick up the ball from his delivery.

3. RHP Colby Suggs: Short and thick fastball reliever, Suggs won’t be long for the minors if he can improve his fastball command and breaking ball utility. Selected in the second round of the 2013 draft, Suggs is a power ‘pen arm in the making, with a max-effort plus-plus fastball that is both his bread and his butter, but he can also flash a plus hard curve in the low 80s and a mid-80s slider when the mood strikes. He’s a legit closer prospect, but will need to add more quality to the secondary package to reach that ceiling.


Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Jose Fernandez
  2. Giancarlo Stanton
  3. Christian Yelich
  4. Andrew Heaney
  5. Nathan Eovaldi
  6. Henderson Alvarez
  7. Marcell Ozuna
  8. Colin Moran
  9. Adeiny Hechavarria
  10. Jacob Turner

The Marlins' current Top 10 Prospects list lacks the sparkle of years past having graduated four members off the 2013 list. The Marlins U25 however, may be one of the most talented in baseball. One of the most impressive things about this list is that every single member of it will be eligible for it next year and seven of 10 will be eligible for two more years. The difference is that come next year they will all likely be starters on the major-league lineup or in the rotation.

Miami has pushed its top prospects through the minors quickly with some realizing their major-league potential early (Fernandez, Ozuna, Yelich) while others (Marisnick, Rob Brantly) struggled in their debuts. Jose Fernandez historically established himself and is now one of the best pitchers in baseball after one season. Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich both battled injuries but established themselves as solid major-league starters in the outfield in their first big-league seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton has become a star and the Marlins have three years of control left. He has hit 117 homeruns in his first four big-league seasons and despite those power numbers he has still yet to reach his full power potential, due to missing 85 games over the past two seasons.

Alvarez, Eovaldi, Turner and Hechavarria were all acquired in 2012 trades with the Blue Jays, Tigers and Dodgers. Alvarez, Eovaldi and Turner all suffered from injuries during the 2013 season but managed to pitch well when they were healthy. All started between 17-20 games and had ERAs below 3.75. Alvarez pitched a no-hitter on the final day of the season and Eovaldi featured the highest average fastball velocity among MLB starters with 100 innings, at 97 mph. Hechavarria played sensational defense behind them but struggled mightily at the plate.

Heaney and Moran are the only minor leaguers on the list and that may not last long. The Marlins’ two latest first round picks played well in 2013 and earned spots in the BP 101 (no. 30 & no. 74). Heaney dominated High-A, Double-A and the AFL and shot up the prospects list as he proved to be the best LHP in the minors. Moran was taken sixth overall in the draft, after being ACC POY and an All-American. He stayed close to home and was sent to Class-A Greensboro where he had an almost .800 OPS and was sent to the AFL where he looked tired after amassing well over 600 plate appearances between college, pro ball and the fall league.

Heaney could be called up very soon if he continues his minor-league dominance. Until then, Tom Koehler, Brad Hand and Brian Flynn are all in contention to fill that final spot in the rotation. They signed Casey McGehee for 2013 but made it known that it is only to hold Moran’s spot at third until he is ready. Don’t be surprised if he is pushed quickly to the majors like other Marlins farmhands and gets a cup of coffee in 2014. With the free agent additions of veterans Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garret Jones and Rafael Furcal to the 2,3 and 4 positions, the next step for the franchise is becoming imminent and every member of the U25 list should make a huge impact on it. –Steffan Segui


A Parting Thought: A system thick with major-league quality talent, with a thinner impact layer up top (Heaney, Moran) but good depth, especially at the lower levels of the system.

***

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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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