The State of the System: :
“True is it, that upon the verge I found me
Of the abysmal valley dolorous,
That gathers thunder of infinite ululations.
Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous,
So that by fixing on its depths my sight
Nothing whatever I discerned therein.”
– The Divine Comedy: Inferno: Dante Alighieri (trans. H.W. Longfellow)
The Top Ten
- LHP Braxton Garrett
- RHP Luis Castillo
- RHP Tyler Kolek
- OF Isael Soto
- 3B Brian Anderson
- OF Stone Garrett
- OF Thomas Jones
- OF Austin Dean
- RHP Drew Steckenrider
- OF Isaiah White
The Big Question: And you may ask yourself, “well, how did I get here?”
I’m not positive yet that the Marlins have the worst farm system in baseball, but they are definitely on the short list to land in the ninth circle of our 2017 org rankings. As prospect writers we spend a lot of time praising and analyzing the good systems. The teams that do it right. The Mets ability to develop pitchers, the Cardinals Way, the teardowns and rebuilds in Chicago and Houston, Atlanta and Philly, the bad systems are just less interesting to write about. But write about them we must. The Marlins get their top ten prospects and others of note too. Before we get into that though, let’s take a look at how you you end up at the bottom of our org rankings.
Trading the prospects you do have
It’s possible that up until the last couple seasons the baseball orthodoxy pendulum swung too far in the direction of overvaluing prospects. Elite prospects, backend-top 100 prospects, sleeper prospects, any prospects. Then this July, both World Series teams dealt high-end prospect packages for relievers, something you would have assumed verboten in a sabermetrically-inclined MLB front office. Still, there can be no doubt that when the Indians and Cubs parted with some of their best prospects for Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, that they were getting impact talent in high-leverage innings for a stretch run and the playoffs (and beyond, in Miller’s case). The Marlins traded their best prospects for Andrew Cashner
and Colin Rea.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with trading prospects for major leaguers. That’s one very valid way to use your farm system to “produce” major league talent. And at the time Miami needed starting pitching desperately while hanging around the periphery of the NL Wild Card race. This is not an uncommon move for the Marlins when they are in the “go for it” portion of their contention cycle, known colloquially as #MarlinsTakeover. They’ve dealt Andrew Heaney for Dee Gordon, a comp balance pick (future prospect I guess) for Bryan Morris, another comp balance picked tossed in with Colin Moran, Francis Martes, and Jake Marisnick for Jarred Cosart (later a throw-in to the Cashner/
Rea deal), and international bonus slots to anyone who asked at “your-local-furniture-outlet’s-all-things-must-go-President’s-Day-sale” prices (more on that in a moment).
Funnily enough, once the Marlins are back in the “ah, fuck it” portion of their contention cycle, they have been very good at rebuilding their org quickly by trading off high-value young regulars, so their 2018 or 2019 org ranking may look a lot rosier after the next firesale.
Lack of recent success in the draft
The Marlins have been mediocre to bad in recent seasons, so have had the benefit of high draft picks. Conventional wisdom suggests you take five years to analyze a draft class, but in the intervening half-decade, you’d hope to see your top picks among your top prospects. That is how it’s supposed to work after all. Since the Marlins hit big in 2010 and 2011 on Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez, they have had seven first-round draft picks. Besides the aforementioned Moran and Heaney (who given their profiles, would have likely graduated in Miami anyway), the Marlins selected Matt Krook, Blake Anderson, Tyler Kolek, Josh Naylor, and Braxton Garrett. If you want to expand to Top 50 picks, we can throw in Colby Suggs, Trevor Williams, Justin Twine, and Brett Lilek.
Garrett and Kolek sit towards the top of the list. So that’s good. Even in better systems it isn’t outrageous that the seventh-overall pick would be your number one prospect. Kolek had yet to really show the potential you’d expect from the number two-overall pick before his Tommy John surgery this year, but he’s a pitcher. This stuff happens. And it’s still a 100 mph fastball.
Naylor was the main piece in the Cashner/
Rea deal mentioned above, but he was considered a reach at 1.12 in last year’s draft. He’s a short, physically mature, high school first baseman, and while I liked the offensive profile some when I saw him for Greensboro this Spring, he’s not an impact talent or even really a potential Top 101 prospect. Plus, you know, he stabbed a teammate.
Blake Anderson was a prep catcher—danger, Will Robinson—that the Marlins popped as a compensation pick for not signing Matt Krook the year before. Anderson has been hurt two out of three pro summers and has yet to get out of short-season ball. Krook was an All-American at Oregon as a Freshman before losing a year to Tommy John and struggling in his return to the mound this Spring. He was a fourth-round selection of the Giants this year. Again, this stuff happens.
It happened to Brett Lilek too, who made only seven starts for Greensboro before being felled by a shoulder strain. Twine was a high school shortstop, now a second baseman, who hasn’t hit. Williams made the Pirates pen this year, shipped out for a Colombian teenage arm that is now 21 and missed all of 2016. Colby Suggs was a short, right-handed reliever who is now a short, right-handed reliever coming off Tommy John surgery.
So a lot of their pitchers broke. I don’t know how much you can blame talent identification and development for that, but org rankings are outcome-based and the outcomes have been bad. Also I am not entirely convinced that the Miami draft room doesn’t look something like this:
A ponderous and somewhat cheap IFA approach
Hoo boy. So the Marlins haven’t spent over $600k on a July 2nd signing in the last five years. That $600,000 went to outfielder Anderson Castro in 2014. He has already been released from the organization after spending two summers under the Mendoza line in their Dominican complex. Their biggest 2015 signing was rightfielder Mario Prenza for $550,000. He had his own struggles in Summer ball this year.
It’s not fair to lay the issues here at the feet of teenagers though. Non-premier IFA signings can take a little bit of time to develop. So let’s hop back to the 2012 class. Those signees would be in their Age 20 season; while far from fully-formed baseball players, you’d at least have a better idea of what they are. The biggest signing that year was…uh…$85,000 for Alberto Sanchez, a third baseman who spent one Summer in the Dominican, hit .168, and is currently listed as inactive.
You don’t have to break the bank like the Yankees, Cubs, and Padres to get a return on your IFA dollars of course. You don’t even have to splurge on a seven-figure hyper-toolsy shortstops every July. Our first four 2017 lists show that you can get a great return on six-figure signings if you scout and develop well. The Marlins could have easily fit Victor Robles, Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Adonis Medina, and Luis Carpio into even their meager IFA budget. They’ve also been very active in trading their international bonus slots under the new CBA. Put it all together and you end up with exactly one Marlins-signed IFA in their top ten. And surprise, surprise, he’s another right fielder.
They also might want to consider not targeting 16-year-old corner players.
This is a natural and good part of the player development cycle. The idea is to turn your prospects into major leaguers with meaningful roles, so you can point to graduations as the system being down for “the right reasons.”
The Marlins graduated zero prospects off their 2016 Top 10.
Well that’s not it at least.
More “right reasons” in 2017, perhaps?
1. Braxton Garrett, LHP
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 7th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, Florence HS (Florence, AL); signed for $4.15 million
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2016 Stats: N/A
The Good: Garrett was the second-best lefty prep arm in the 2016 draft class, and the Marlins went overslot to buy him out of his Vanderbilt commitment. The fastball gets into the low 90s, and it should sit there as he adds strength in his twenties. It’s a potential plus pitch, as is the curveball which was as good as any draftee’s not named Jason Groome, with a good 1-7 shape and advanced command of the offering. His mechanics are fine, if not without some effort. The frame is ideal for a starter.
The Bad: Despite his lean frame, he’s more of an “advanced prep arm” than a projection monster. The fastball may only end up playing at 50 or 55. He’s got exactly as a good a changeup at present as you would expect from a high school arm with a monster curve. That is to say, exactly as much as he needs, which is not much.
The Irrelevant: Braxton (Anglo-Saxon in origin, meaning “Brock’s town”) has risen in popularity as a boy’s name from #333 the year Garrett was born, to #136 in 2016. Damn millennials.
OFP 60—No. 3 starter
Likely 50—No. 4 starter
The Risks: He’s yet to throw a professional pitch. The developmental horizon is long. He’ll eventually need a better changeup. He’s a pitcher. So all the standard (high) risks here.
Major league ETA: 2020
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Garrett will get attention in dynasty leagues because of his draft pedigree, but he’s more of a decent fantasy asset than anything special. In time Garrett could develop into an SP4/5 in the healthy Jaime Garcia mold. That makes him worth rostering if your league rosters 150 prospects, but if you only roster 100 Garrett is a tougher call.
2. Luis Castillo, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’2” 170 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed December 2011 out of Dominican Republic by the San Francisco Giants for $15,000; acquired from the Giants for Casey McGehee
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: 2.07 ERA, 2.17 DRA, 117.2 IP, 18 BB, 92 K in 23 games at High-A Jupiter, 3.86 ERA, 5.68 DRA, 14 IP, 7 BB, 12 K, in 3 games at Double-A Jacksonville
The Good: After pitching primarily as a reliever with the Giants, Castillo has flourished as a starter, showcasing his premium arm strength and ability to hold velocity late in games. In velocity the pitch plays as an 80 sitting 97-99 and touching 101 with above-average control. He has an easy, repeatable delivery with above-average arm speed and a smooth arm action. His slider flashes plus with hard tilt and bite. His changeup is an effective third offering against left-handers.
The Bad: While his fastball has elite velocity, it lacks movement and plane so it can be hittable in the zone. His slider is inconsistent as it gets slurvy and shows more fringe-average than plus. He telegraphs his changeup and he struggles with command, often left up in the zone. More a strike-thrower than a command artist.
The Irrelevant: K-Rod is still in shock because of this.
60 OFP—Mid-rotation starter, late innings reliever
50 OFP—Back-end starter, middle innings reliever
The Risks: Was older for High-A, secondary pitches need to become more consistent for an everyday big-league spot, lack of consistent changeup could force a bullpen move sooner rather than later is a pitcher.
Major league ETA: Early 2018 —Steve Givarz
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Did anyone else read the above and get a distinct Joe Kelly vibe? Luis Castillo has Great Stuff (TM), and he’s close enough to the Majors that you could easily make the argument for taking him over Garrett in dynasty leagues. Still, the relatively limited upside and the somewhat likely chance he ends up in the bullpen conspire to limit Castillo to a back-of-the-top-100 name, if that.
3. Tyler Kolek, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’5” 260 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 2nd overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, Shepherd HS (Shepherd, TX); signed for $6 million
Previous Ranking(s): #1 (Org.)
2016 Stats: N/A
The Good: Kolek still has triple-digit heat in his right arm, a frame built to log innings, and a chance for an above-average slider. Unfortunately it is hard to have more here…
The Bad: …because Kolek missed all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. As I wrote in the essay above, this does happen, but it’s not ideal for a pitching prospect that was already having some developmental issues. Even assuming he steps back on the field next summer and the stuff returns apace, there will still be lingering questions about Kolek’s future role on the mound.
The Irrelevant: Kolek’s 100 mph heater is in good company nowadays.
OFP 55—Bret comped him to Nate Eovaldi last year and I kind of like that
Likely 45—Frustrating no. 4 starter or hard-throwing seventh inning guy
The Risks: Tommy John surgery is common, but it is not routine. It may take some time for the stuff to get all the way back if it ever does, and this is an arm that still needs a lot of pro reps and refinement. The best predictor of future pitcher injuries is past pitcher injuries, yadda yadda yadda. Kolek was risky even before the surgery, as the secondaries needed a lot of work and the control was shaky. And yes, he’s still a pitcher.
Major league ETA: 2020
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: It doesn’t matter how powerful your car’s engine is if your car doesn’t have tires, a steering wheel, brakes or a transmission. Kolek’s fastball and pedigree will keep him on dynasty radars for a while, but if he’s on waivers you can wait for him to get healthy and prove TJ didn’t rob him of any of his natural talents before putting in a claim.
4. Isael Soto, OF
Height/Weight: 6’0” 180 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed July 2013 out of the Dominican Republic by the Miami Marlins for $310,000
Previous Ranking(s): #6 (Org.)
2016 Stats: .247/.320/.399, 9 HR, 3 SB in 113 games at Low-A Greensboro
The Good: In a system that lacks much in the way of bats, Soto’s tools stand out. There’s plus raw power in the swing, and I’d expect to see it more in games as he adds upper-body strength in his twenties. He’s an average runner with a plus arm in right field. He should be a positive defender there with more reps/refinement. There’s a semblance of an approach at the plate, if not enough hit tool at present to really put it into action all the time.
The Bad: Soto is raw. Really raw. Overmatched at times in the Sally despite plus bat speed, the swing can be a bit one-gear and he gets pull happy. He’s still rough in the outfield. The arm strength is fine for right, but when he doesn’t have to air it out, the mechanics can get out of whack and he tends to almost soft toss it. He’s runs well at present, but I suspect he will lose some speed as he ages and settle in as a 40 runner. It’s a right field profile either way.
The Irrelevant: Certain minor league announcers took to calling Soto “Izzy” in 2016, but we won’t call it an official nickname until it shows up on his Baseball-Reference page, like the totally legitimate “Millville Meteor.”
OFP 50—TTO-type in right field, but enough power to play everyday
Likely 40—Platoon/bench bat
The Risks: High. He’s young, struggled in his first taste of full-season ball, and will have to hit enough to carry a corner outfield profile. I’m not all that confident he will ever hit enough to carry an everyday role.
Major league ETA: 2020
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: I knew the Marlins system would be … uninspiring … of our purposes, but lolololololol at Isael Soto being the fourth-best prospect in a ranking of anything other than prospects named Isael. Hard pass unless the hit tool starts showing up. The dynasty portion of this list is not gonna get better from here, folks.
5. Brian Anderson, 3B
Height/Weight: 6’3” 185 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 76th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, University of Arkansas, signed for $600,000
Previous Ranking(s): #9 (Org.)
2016 Stats: .302/.377/.400, 3 HR, 3 SB in 49 games at High-A Jupiter, 243/.330/.359, 8 HR, 0 SB in 86 games at Double-A Jacksonville
The Good: Anderson fared much better in his second go at High-A, showing improved defense at the hot corner. His plus arm and accuracy plays well at the position and he could be a steady, if not spectacular defender there. His average raw power is starting to show more in games and could play to full utility down the road. He has above-average bat speed through the zone and can work all fields.
The Bad: He did repeat the level after a poor season the year prior, and outside of his arm, his tools all require projection to even get to average. His fielding, while improved, is still clunky. He doesn’t have great range and tends to body balls up. Anderson did struggle with advanced arms in his first run at Double-A, and his upside remains more average than impact.
The Irrelevant: In theory, he should surpass the former Chicago White Sox OF Brian Anderson, who has a career -1.0 WARP. Although he has a tougher time passing the former Diamondback LHP Brian Anderson, with a career 14.2 WARP.
50 OFP—Solid, if unspectacular starter who won’t wow with defensive skills.
40 Likely—Bat-first player who plays other positions.
The Risks: Anderson isn’t getting younger and struggled with his first taste of Double-A. His defense at third might not be palatable enough to ignore if the bat doesn’t play higher.
Major league ETA: 2018 —Steve Givarz
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Anderson might be interesting if he’s closer to the Majors and has a clear shot at playing time. Still, you don’t want to waste a roster spot on someone with the upside of, like, 2016 David Freese.
6. Stone Garrett, OF
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, George Ranch HS (Richmond, TX); signed for $162,400
Previous Ranking(s): #8 (Org.)
2016 Stats: .143/.333/.143, 0 HR, 1 SB in 3 games at Gulf Coast League, .213/.265/.371, 6 HR, 1 SB in 52 games at Low-A Greensboro
The Good: Garrett is a strong kid and that does translate into above-average raw power. You can dream on his wiry frame filling out in his twenties and twenty home-run power to come.
The Bad: A “knife prank” gone awry cost Garrett two months of the 2016 season, and he struggled mightily late in the year in his return to Greensboro. He is already playing mostly left field. It’s a length-and-strength power profile so there are holes to exploit. He lacks any standout tools other than his raw power.
The Irrelevant: He was born about 40 years too late, but “Stone Garrett” would have been a hell of a ring name in World Class Championship Wrestling. Could easily picture him in the semi-main at the Sportatorium against Geno Hernandez.
OFP 50— Low-BA/medium-pop outfielder
Likely 30— One of those mid-2000s Phillies prep picks
The Risks: Like Kolek, Garrett is tricky to evaluate after what essentially amounts to a lost season. All that really means is the high risk profile from last year (low minors bat, potential future corner profile, hit tool questions) all still apply, and Garrett is just a year older now.
Major league ETA: 2019
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: If your dynasty team is thin enough that you need to pick up Stone Garrett maybe you deserve a Josh Naylor “knife prank” too.
7. Thomas Jones, OF
Height/Weight: 6’4” 195 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 84th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, Laurens HS (Laurens, SC); Signed for $1 million
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: .234/.380/.313, 0 HR, 6 SB in 19 games at Gulf Coast League
The Good: The second Vandy commit that the Marlins popped in the 2016 draft, Jones does not have close to Garrett’s present polish in between the lines, but hoo boy does he have some tools to dream on. How about a 70 run/60 pop CF? Well, we are a long, long way away from that, but it’s in there. Jones was a two-sport athlete in high school, and recruited as a college safety. He looks the part, although even on the baseball field he will need to add some muscle to his lean frame to really tap into the power.
The Bad: It’s a hell of a projection, but it’s all projection. This type of profile have a far greater range of roles than I can express below. There isn’t enough arm here for right field if the center field defense doesn’t improve with more reps. I have no idea if he will hit?
The Irrelevant: Thomas Jones is the only currently active “Thomas Jones” in baseball.
OFP 50— Low-BA/medium-pop center fielder
Likely 30— One of those mid-2000s Phillies prep picks
The Risks: I’m not separating out future tools this year. I pushed for this after taking over and Jones is a good example of why. I could easily have written “Future Tools: 7 Run, 6 Power, 5 Glove, 5 Arm,” but that’s misleading because what is the actually likelihood of his achieving that. Where is he likely to fall short if he doesn’t reach his OFP. Can he actually hit at all? We only put major-league-average tools or better there, which always felt misleading to me. He could be a 20 hit, and then the power doesn’t play to 6, and the rest doesn’t really matter.
tl;dr: He’s really risky.
Major league ETA: 2021
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: The power/speed combo makes Jones someone to keep an eye on, but if he can’t hit, it won’t matter. Wait to see if Jones starts hitting or if reports begin to indicate he’s figuring it out.
8. Austin Dean, OF
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the fourth round in the 2012 MLB Draft, Klein Collins HS (Spring, TX); signed for $367,200
Previous Ranking(s): #7 (Org)
2016 Stats: .238/.307/.375, 11 HR, 1 SB, at Double-A Jacksonville
The Good: Dean started to hit for more power in Double-A, reaching double digit home runs for the first time in his pro career. And there is average raw power in there. There’s average most things, as everyone of his tools falls within a half grade of 50 either way.
The Bad: But that’s not all that exciting when there’s an average left field glove in there. Dean’s fringy arm and merely average foot speed limits him to that corner, and it’s unlikely the power will play in games enough to make him an everyday player there.
The Irrelevant: You wouldn’t imagine Austin Dean was all that uncommon a name, but you also wouldn’t imagine one of the first google hits for him being a seven-year-old dirt track racer.
OFP 45—Extra/short-side platoon outfielder
Likely 40—Up and down righty outfield bat
The Risks: Medium risk, low reward. Dean probably hits major league lefties well enough to have a bench role on a second division team, but he already traded off some extra swing-and-miss for double-digit power.
Major league ETA: Early 2018
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: If you really need to roster a backup outfielder, at least pick one up who’s in the majors now.
9. Drew Steckenrider, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’5” 215 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the 257th in the 2012 MLB Draft, Tennessee University; Signed for $137,900
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: 5.40 ERA, 2.30 DRA, 11.2 IP, 7 BB, 15 K in 10 games at Triple-A New Orleans, 1.48 ERA, 1.59 DRA, 30.1 IP, 10 BB, 39 K in 24 games at Double-A Jacksonville, 0.00 ERA, 1.64 DRA, 10 IP, 2 BB, 17 K in 6 games at High-A Jupiter
The Good: Steckenrider is a big kid with a big fastball. He can sit in the mid-90s, and the heater is a swing-and-miss pitch with late riding life and occasional armside run. The delivery isn’t going to look beautiful at 4,000 FPS, but he repeats well and can command his fastball in and out, up and down.
The Bad: There isn’t a ton else here. Steckenrider works almost entirely off the #1. The slider is soft even when he breaks it off, and the pitch tends to back up on him at times. There isn’t much ceiling here even as a reliever, and there’s some risk in what is basically a one-pitch profile
The Irrelevant: Steckenrider doesn’t have the longest name in the minors, but the Jacksonville Suns struggled to fit it on the back of their jersey:
OFP 45—Good middle reliever/potential 7th inning guy
Likely 40—Average middle reliever
The Risk: I think Steckenrider will pitch in the majors. I think he will pitch in the majors soon. Low reward, but low risk.
Major league ETA: 2017
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: No.
10. Isaiah White, OF
Height/Weight: 6’0” 170 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 85th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, Greenfield HS (Wilson, NC); Signed for $698,100
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: .214/.306/.301, 1 HR, 5 SB, in 51 games at Short-Season New York-Penn League
The Good: There’s some tools here. White has a projectable frame, even at six-foot, with broad shoulders and skinny legs. He’s a plus runner that will flash solid-average raw to the pull-side in batting practice, although he has to sell out and uppercut a bit to get it. He’s best off working back up the middle with line drives. White’s a strong kid, tough to jam, and it’s not impossible he can hack it in center once a week for your big club someday. Throwing mechanics are sound and his arm is accurate.
The Bad: If he can’t do that—and his instincts in the outfield are very rough at present—below-average arm strength will limit him to left field. He struggles with recognizing spin currently, and the swing mechanics will break down and he’ll lunge at stuff that dives. Hit tool is not one of the “some tools” and the developmental process there might be long and not particularly fruitful in the end.
The Irrelevant: White’s hometown of Wilson, NC was once known as the world’s greatest tobacco market.
OFP 45—Good fourth outfielder that doesn’t kill you if pressed into starter service
Likely 30—Fifth outfielder/Triple-A shuttle
The Risks: Very high. Short-season resume, probably won’t stick up the middle, may not hit at all.
Major league ETA: 2020
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: No.
Others of note:
I draw the line at coming up with epithets here although I can think of a few
Dillon Peters, LHP
While not an impact guy, being left-handed and showing an average to better curveball/fastball combination never hurts. He throws plenty of strikes but given his size (5-foot-9) and injury history (Tommy John in 2014), he might be better in the pen as a matchup lefty. —Steve Givarz
Jeff Brigham, RHP
Acquired in 2015 from the Dodgers for Mat Latos, Brigham has a 70 fastball with a potential above-average slider. Unfortunately his control is below average for a starter and his changeup is a distant third offering. He will be 25 by Spring Training and like Peters is best-suited as a bullpen arm. —Steve Givarz
Jarlin Garcia, LHP
Garcia was third in a bad system last year, he’s out of the top ten in a worse system this year. What happened? Well, there was a triceps injury that cost him most of the season, and he wasn’t particularly impressive in Double-A when he was healthy. Mostly though, we are just less convinced he is a starter, and the relief profile as a low-90s lefty that can touch higher with a serviceable, but not plus curveball, is more middle relief than late inning.
Andy Beltre, RHP
Another middle reliever? Probably. Beltre has a big arm though, touching 97 for me (other reports even higher) with some run down in the zone. There’s a short-but-tight slider here at times, but the fastball is the main weapon. Beltre missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery, but after dominating two A-ball levels in 2016, he could be a factor in the Marlins pen as soon as the end of next season. The command profile is problematic, but I could see something like a poor man’s Kyle Barraclough eventually. That qualifies as noteworthy here.
Yefri Perez, IF/OF
Not another bullpen arm this time, instead you get a future super-utility player! Perez is a plus-plus runner who can hit some line drives and will draw a walk. He already got a cup of coffee in the majors this year, and impressed in an AFL look. It’s 20 pop, and the bat-to-ball isn’t good enough to imagine the other Luis Castillo here, but the Eric Young, Jr./Willie Harris profile is useful even with shorter benches (though a 26th roster spot could make Perez a lot of extra money).
Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/91 or later)
- Christian Yelich
- Braxton Garrett
- Luis Castillo
- Justin Nicolino
- Tyler Kolek
- Isael Soto
- Brian Anderson
- Stone Garrett
- Tomas Telis
- Thomas Jones
There’s a name missing at the top of this list. The sad reality of Jose Fernandez’s passing reaches far beyond the implications his death has on the Marlins decision making concerning their roster. Baseball lost a star at a young, young age in tragic and awful fashion. That part can never be understated. But at some point we do have to consider just how much the Marlins will miss him on the baseball field as well. Fernandez was going to be the anchor upon which the Marlins could pin their future. He alone improves their future outlook; just look at this list for a visual on how much he changes. Baseball will not forget Fernandez, and the Marlins will miss him in ways we cannot even begin to understand both from a personal level and in a tangible baseball sense.
Christian Yelich married his prodigious contact skills with some power and continued to show excellent plate discipline. He was originally projected to be a 20/20 threat but as Yelich’s homers surged his stolen bases took a step back. Look for more of the same in 2016 in terms of production with the bat. His preternatural bat-to-ball skills allow for a ton of quality contact and the power development is real. Justin Nicolino illustrates where the Marlins are as an organization pretty well. He’s left handed, throws in the high-80s/low-90s and his change is his best secondary pitch. He has command but he doesn’t miss bats, which will be an issue as he tries to turn over lineups consistently at the major-league level. There’s some value here as a potential swing man but his arsenal is limited and his secondary skills aren’t as well developed as a low-velocity starter’s have to be to survive in the long term. Tomas Telis is a backup catcher, but he's here now. —Mauricio Rubio