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December 24, 2010

Future Shock

Florida Marlins Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: It's lacking star power and filled with hard-throwing relievers who don't throw enough strikes.

Four-Star Prospects
1. Matt Dominguez, 3B
2. Christian Yelich, OF
Three-Star Prospects
3. Chad James, LHP
4. Osvaldo Martinez, SS
5. Marcell Ozuna, OF
6. Mike Dunn, LHP
7. Jhan Marinez, RHP
8. Brad Hand, LHP
9. Kyle Skipworth, C
10. Jose Ceda, RHP
Two-Star Prospects
11. Scott Cousins, OF

Nine More:
12. Arquimedes Caminero, RHP: This power reliever has mid-to-upper-90s heat, but it's his only plus pitch for now.
13. Edgar Olmos, LHP: Olmos is a tall, long, projectable lefty with tons of projection, but he needs to start reaching it.
14. Rob Rasmussen, LHP: A second-round pick from June, Rasmussen is an undersized lefty with good velocity and a good breaking ball.
15. Mark Canha, OF: Scouts praise hit bat, but he better hit as a future first baseman/left fielder type.
16. Tom Koehler, RHP: He's more moxie than stuff, but he's hardly a finesse pitcher and has already won at upper levels.
17. J.T. Realmuto, C: This third-round pick set offensive records at high school in Oklahoma. He will move up this list if he can catch.
18. Steve Cishek, RHP: He's a tall right-hander who has set-up man possibilities with a plus fastball/slider combination.
19. Ike Galloway, OF: This athletic outfielder missed the season due to wrist problems and a bruised kidney.
20. Austin Brice, RHP: An over-slot ninth-rounder, Brice has size and velocity, but is far more a thrower than a pitcher.

1. Matt Dominguez, 3B
DOB
: 8/28/89
Height/Weight: 6-1/205
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007, Chatsworth HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .252/.333/.411 at Double-A (138 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Glove/run

Year in Review: The Marlins' first-round pick in 2007 held his own at Double-A as a 20-year-old.
The Good: Any discussion of Dominguez begins with his glove, as most scouts label him the best defensive third baseman in the minors. He has outstanding instincts, reacts well, has soft hands, and a strong, accurate arm. While his offensive statistics have failed to impress, he was just 17 when drafted and has consistently been young for his level. He has a patient approach and solid-average power.
The Bad: Dominguez lacks a star-level offensive ceiling. He just doesn't have the pure hitting skills to hit for average, and will need to make up for it with power and walks. He's a below-average runner.
Ephemera: While the famed Chatsworth program in California has produced 24 MLB draft picks, Dominguez and Royals top prospect Mike Moustakas are the only two first-rounders from the school, both selected in 2007.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a third baseman with average offensive production from the plate and Gold Glove defense in the field.
Fantasy Impact: Some home runs, but that's about it.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Marlins don't have a third baseman as of publication, with Wes Helms topping the depth chart. The Marlins insist the Dominguez is in the running for the job, but he'll likely begin the year at Triple-A New Orleans.
ETA: 2011.

2. Christian Yelich, OF
DOB
: 12/5/91
Height/Weight: 6-4/189
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Westlake HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .375/.423/.500 at Rookie (6 G); .348/.375/.435 at Low-A (6 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Defense/speed

Year in Review: One of the best hitters in Southern California, Yelich signed for an over-slot $1.7 million bonus as the 23rd overall pick in the draft.
The Good: Yelich has one of those sweet left-handed swings that get scouts excited. It's ultra smooth with plenty of bat speed, and he's capable of driving balls out when he gets his long arms extended, with some projecting average-to-plus power down the road once his lanky frame fills out. He's a good athlete with a tick above-average speed and good outfield skills.
The Bad: Yelich needs to hit, as while he's athletic enough to be a fine outfielder, he lacks the arm for right and the true plus speed to play up the middle. While he makes hard contact, he'll need to fill out to meet his power projections.
Ephemera: Despite not opening until 1979, Westlake High has already produced 20 draft picks, the most successful of which is former big-league catcher Mike Lieberthal, the third overall pick in 1990.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a middle-of-the-order hitter.
Fantasy Impact: He can bring a good batting average with a handful of stolen bases, but the power will ultimately determine his ceiling.
Path to the Big Leagues: Yelich will spend his first full season at Low-A Greensboro.
ETA: 2014.

3. Chad James, LHP
DOB
: 1/23/91
Height/Weight: 6-3/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Yukon HS (OK)
2010 Stats: 5.12 ERA (114.1-116-65-105) at Low-A (24 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/command

Year in Review: This first-round pick from 2009 had an up-and-down full-season debut.
The Good: James certainly looks the part of a pitcher as an athletic, projectable southpaw with a loose arm. He sits in the low 90s with his fastball and consistently touches 94-95 mph, but scouts grade his breaking ball even higher as an easy plus pitch that generates plenty of swings and misses. His has feel for a changeup, and it should be an average pitch down the road.
The Bad: James frustrates with his inability to translate his abilities into dominating starts. He often flies open in his delivery, losing the strike zone, and when he's forced to use his fastball, it gets hit hard due to a lack of movement. While he has high-quality secondary pitches, he relies too much on the heater.
Ephemera: James' older brother, Justin, was a fifth-round pick by the Red Sox in 2003 who made his big-league debut in 2010 with the Athletics.
Perfect World Projection: He has the stuff to be a good third starter, maybe even a bit more.
Fantasy Impact: He can be an above-average starter if everything comes together.
Path to the Big Leagues: James will move from a hitting-friendly park to one of the best pitching environments around at High-A Jupiter.
ETA: 2013.

4. Osvaldo Martinez, SS
DOB
: 5/7/88
Height/Weight: 5-10/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 11th round, 2006, Porterville College (CA)
2010 Stats: .302/.372/.401 at Double-A (130 G); .326/.383/.465 at MLB (14 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Glove/power

Year in Review: Martinez was seen as a potential breakout player entering the year, and he fulfilled those expectations.
The Good: Martinez has an excellent feel for contact. He works the count well and his outstanding hands allow him to make in-pitch adjustments and consistent contact to go with occasional gap power. He has very good defensive skills with good footwork, smooth transfers, and an average-to-plus arm.
The Bad: Martinez is only an average runner and not a quick-twitch athlete, so his range is a bit short, especially on plays to his right. He'll never hit for power, and if forced to move to second base, his bat becomes light for the position.
Ephemera: Martinez turned into Tony Gwynn during day games in 2010, batting .373/.439/.464 in 28 contests.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a solid everyday shortstop. That might not sound exciting, but there are not 30 of those in the big leagues.
Fantasy Impact: He'll have some batting average and little else. He'll be far more valuable in the real world.
Path to the Big Leagues: Martinez finally gives the Marlins a player than can slot in at shortstop should Hanley Ramirez's defense end up moving him. For now, he'll begin the season at Triple-A New Orleans.
ETA: Late 2011.

5. Marcell Ozuna, OF
DOB
: 11/12/90
Height/Weight: 6-2/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .267/.314/.556 at Short-season (68 G); .160/.222/.280 at Low-A (6 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/hit

Year in Review: A power-hitting outfielder, Ozuna suffered an early-season wrist injury and then put on a power show in the New York-Penn League.
The Good: Ozuna has classic right-field skills. He has more raw power than anyone in the system by a wide margin, and it's enough for one scout to predict a top ranking in the system one year from now, as he drives balls out of any part of the park with natural loft and backspin. He's a solid-average runner and good athlete, and his arm is above average.
The Bad: Ozuna has a grip-it-and-rip-it approach and tried to hit every ball out of the park regardless of pitch and count. The result was strikeouts in more than one-third of his at-bats, and he'll need to tighten his approach to avoid turning into, what one scout characterized as “Preston Wilson without speed.” He'll likely fill out and slow down as his body matures.
Ephemera: In nine games against State College in 2010, Ozuna went 15-for-34 (.441) with six home runs.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a massive home-run threat who hits fourth or fifth in the lineup.
Fantasy Impact: Plenty of home runs, and... well, that's about it.
Path to the Big Leagues: Ozuna will get another crack at Low-A Greensboro in 2011.
ETA: 2014.

6. Mike Dunn, LHP
DOB: 5/23/85
Height/Weight: 6-1/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: 33rd round, 2004, C.C. Southern Nevada (Yankees)
2010 Stats: 1.52 ERA (47.1-31-25-64) at Triple-A with Atlanta, 1.89 ERA (19.0-15-17-27) at MLB with Atlanta
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control.

Year in Review: This power left-hander generated plenty of strikeouts in the big leagues and went to the Marlins as part of the Dan Uggla deal.
The Good: Dunn has two power offerings, both of which are true major-league out pitches. His fastball is not only hard at 94-97 mph, but it also features some horizontal cut to it, while his low-to-mid-80s slider is a wipeout pitch with heavy two-plane break when it's on. He has composure and an aggressive mindset that serves him well in the late innings.
The Bad: Dunn would be a ninth-inning option if talent evaluators were convinced that he'd over-throw more strikes. He's not big or physical, and what comes out of his hand takes considerable effort to generate, leaving him without late-inning command.
Ephemera: For now, Dunn is the most successful big-league player from the College of Southern Nevada, but the school also just produced the first overall pick in the draft with Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper.
Perfect World Projection: There's closer stuff in him, but without better control, he won't pitch in the ninth.
Fantasy Impact: It's likely very small as an eighth-inning type.
Path to the Big Leagues: Dunn will almost assuredly open camp as a high-leverage lefty in the Florida pen.
ETA: 2011.

7. Jhan Marinez, RHP
DOB
: 8/12/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/165
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2006, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 1.42 ERA (25.1-12-14-44) at High-A (21 G); 2.16 ERA (16.2-9-7-20) at Double-A (15 G); 6.75 ERA (2.2-3-3-3) at MLB (4 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: This hard-throwing Dominican began the year in High-A, but he reached the big leagues, missing plenty of bats at every level.
The Good: Marinez has a tremendously fast arm action and a loose delivery, bringing the heat with a 93-96 mph rising fastball that has touched as high as 99 mph. He attacks hitters early in the count to set up a slider that flashes as plus.
The Bad: Marinez overthrows his breaking ball at times, which gives him command troubles or turns it into a sweeping, hittable pitch if over the plate. He had some midseason elbow issues and has yet to throw more than 50 innings in a single season.
Ephemera: Florida State batters facing Marinez in the ninth inning went 4-for-36 with 23 strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a late-inning reliever.
Fantasy Impact: As much as scouts like Marinez, more are convinced he's an eighth-inning type as opposed to a closer.
Path to the Big Leagues: Marinez will compete for a bullpen job in the spring, with Triple-A New Orleans as the backup plan.
ETA: 2011.

8. Brad Hand, LHP
DOB
: 3/20/90
Height/Weight: 6-2/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2008, Chaska HS (MN)
2010 Stats: 3.33 ERA (140.2-153-49-34) at High-A (26 G); 3.00 ERA (6.0-3-3-4) at Double-A (1 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/changeup.

Year in Review: A second-round pick from a cold-weather area, Hand made good strides in his second full year.
The Good: Hand has plenty to like, as he features a low-90s fastball than touches 93, a tick above-average curveball, and combines them with good command and control. He's a good athlete with smooth, easy delivery that he repeats well.
The Bad: Nothing about Hand's game overwhelms, and scouts have a hard time finding a pitch that projects as true plus in the big leagues. His changeup made strides this year, but remains below average. Many feel Hand is an is-what-he-is type without a lot of room for improvement.
Ephemera: Prior to the Florida State League All-Star break, Hand pitched 70 1/3 innings and allowed 26 earned runs for a 3.33 ERA. Following the break, Hand pitched 70 1/3 innings while allowing 26 earned runs for a 3.33 ERA.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a fourth starter, with an outside shot at third-starter status.
Fantasy Impact: It's in the middle of the road.
Path to the Big Leagues: Hand will face a big test with an Opening Day assignment at Double-A.
ETA: 2012.

9. Kyle Skipworth, C
DOB
: 3/1/90
Height/Weight: 6-4/205
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008, Patriot HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .249/.312/.426 at Low-A (107 G); .000/.125/.000 at Double-A (2 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/hit

Year in Review: This 2008 first-round pick improved in his second season at Low-A, but scouts still have plenty of questions about his future.
The Good: Skipworth has plenty of raw power, with multiple scouts noting that he hit some of the longest home runs in the Sally League in 2010. Scouts also noted considerable improvement in his defense behind the plate. He'll never be Ivan Rodriguez, but he has good arm strength, improved receiving skills, and projects to be acceptable back there when many saw a positional switch in his future a year ago.
The Bad: Skipworth sells out for his power, as his swing is long and with a considerable uppercut, leaving him exposed against good breaking balls. Despite the improvements, he's still a below-average catcher.
Ephemera: While four catchers have been selected with the sixth overall pick in the draft, only Terry Kennedy (1977) has hit more than one big-league home run.
Perfect World Projection: He could be above average for a catcher, but only because he can hit home runs and the offensive expectations at the position are so low.
Fantasy Impact: Home runs. The end.
Path to the Big Leagues: Skipworth will finally move up to High-A in 2011, and there's little reason to think he's suddenly going to move quickly.
ETA: 2014.

10. Jose Ceda, RHP
DOB
: 1/28/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/275
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2004 (Padres)
2010 Stats: 4.50 ERA (8.0-7-1-5) at Low-A (7 G); 1.39 ERA (32.1-18-20-45) at Double-A (27 G); 5.19 ERA (8.2-8-11-9) at MLB (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: The former Cubs prospect finally returned from extended shoulder issues and reached the big leagues.
The Good: Ceda has a striking resemblance to former All-Star closer Lee Smith in terms of both size and stuff. He parks his fastball in the 94-98 mph range, and his slider gives him a second out pitch with plenty of depth and bite. He's an intimidating presence on the mound who seems to relish in pitching inside and knocking hitters down.
The Bad: Like all of the power relief prospects in the system, Ceda has trouble harnessing his stuff and keeping it in the strike zone. With his long injury history, his violent delivery will always be a considerable red flag.
Ephemera: While the huge and slow Ceda is hardly known for his fielding prowess, he's yet to be charged with an error as a pro.
Perfect World Projection: With more strikes, he could pitch in the ninth inning.
Fantasy Impact: If he pitches in the ninth inning, that means he gets saves.
Path to the Big Leagues: Ceda has no guarantee of a big-league job, but he'll compete for one this spring.
ETA: 2011.

11. Scott Cousins, OF
DOB
: 1/22/85
Height/Weight: 6-1/195
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2006, University of San Francisco
2010 Stats: .285/.336/.461 at Triple-A (118 G); .297/.316/.459 at MLB (27 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/power

Year in Review: A slow-developing outfielder, Cousins had another good-not-great year and now has an opportunity in the big leagues.
The Good: Cousins does not have a tool that rates below average. He has sound hitting mechanics with gap-to-average power and enough speed to rack up double-digit stolen bases. He's a good outfielder, and his arm, like everything else about his game, is solid.
The Bad: While Cousins is a five-tool player in many ways, none of those tools are plus. If he can't stay in center field, he don't have enough secondary skills to rate well as a corner outfielder, with only average power and below-average plate discipline.
Ephemera: Cousins is cousins with Travis Hall, who had a 10-year NFL career as a defensive lineman with the Falcons and 49ers.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a second-division starter or a good fourth outfielder.
Fantasy Impact: He's well-rounded but not lighting up any one category.
Path to the Big Leagues: Cousins enters spring training almost assuredly with a big-league job, but his spring will define if he's starting or coming off the bench.
ETA: 2011.

The Sleeper: Despite unimpressive numbers, scouts remain intrigued by infielder Jake Smolinski's approach and swing, believing the stats will eventually catch up with the skills.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Mike Stanton, OF
2. Logan Morrison, 1B
3. Chris Coghlan, OF/3B
4. Chris Volstad, RHP
5. Matt Dominguez, 3B
6. Christian Yelich, OF
7. Alex Sanabia, RHP
8. Chad James, LHP
9. Osvaldo Martinez, SS
10. Ryan Webb, RHP

Yes, Stanton is a monster, and the most likely player to top the 50-homer mark over the next three years. Morrison proved that he can get on base in the big leagues, but the questions about his power remain, leaving him average at a position normally reserved for offensive studs. Coghlan was finally finding his 2009 form when a knee injury ended his season; he's asked for a chance to play center field this spring. Volstad is a ground-ball machine that scouts still believe is on the verge of taking a step forward and becoming a good third starter. Sanabia was the system's biggest surprise in 2010, and while there were a lot of smoke and mirrors in his success, he should settle into a back-of-the-rotation role just fine. San Diego made Webb look far better than he is, as he's a middle reliever with a sinker. Usable, sure, but hardly an impact arm.

Summary: Considering the teams' Scrooge-worthy budget, the Marlins have almost miraculously stayed competitive with a constant flow of impressive young talent. Unfortunately, that well is starting to dry.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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