Last year's Marlins list

The Top Ten

  1. LHP Andrew Heaney
  2. RHP Tyler Kolek
  3. C J.T. Realmuto
  4. RHP Trevor Williams
  5. RHP Jose Urena
  6. RHP Anthony DeSclafani
  7. 2B Avery Romero
  8. LHP Justin Nicolino
  9. RHP Nick Wittgren
  10. LHP Michael Mader

1. Andrew Heaney
Position: LHP
DOB: 06/05/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #30 (Top 101)
2014 Stats: 5.33 ERA (25.1 IP, 26 H, 17 K, 6 BB) at major-league level, 3.87 ERA (83.2 IP, 75 H, 91 K, 23 BB) at Triple-A New Orleans, 2.35 ERA (53.2 IP, 45 H, 52 K, 13 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6+ potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Heaney pitched 137 1/3 innings across two levels, striking out a batter an inning in the process, but hit some resistance in his first taste of The Show.

Strengths: Repeatable delivery; athletic; easy arm action; fastball jumps on hitters due to deceptive release; comfortably operates in low 90s with arm-side run; will reach for more when needs it; can throw heater to both sides of the plate; snaps slider with a loose wrist; capable of changing shape; buries for chases and shortens for strikes; grades as present plus; flashes feel for change; displays bottom-dropping action.

Weaknesses: Fastball can grab a lot of plate; more of a strike-thrower than spotter with offering; command can get loose; velocity ticks up and down; can stand to add more strength to withstand rigors of position; at times struggles to maintain release of slider; starts too low for consistent chases; change lags behind other offerings; lacks turnover and high-quality action.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major leagues; command progression.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The clear top fantasy prospect in the Marlins’ system, Heaney will get another crack at fantasy viability in 2015. He’s likely to be more of a contributor in the ratios than in strikeouts, but don’t sell him short on the latter—he has the potential to miss more bats with sharpened command. He should be a strong SP3 for a long time.

The Year Ahead: Heaney will likely get his chance to hold down a rotation spot this season as there’s little left for him to prove in the minors. When the left-hander is on, he flashes three major-league caliber offerings and the ability to get hitters out in a variety of ways. The 23-year-old’s easy, balanced delivery allows his overall stuff to play up as the ball seemingly jumps out of his uniform, especially when delivering his heater. While Heaney’s athleticism and fluid actions allow him to repeat his mechanics, he can throw too meaty of strikes and the fastball command does still need some polishing to limit solid contact against elite hitters. The feel here is that the lefty does have some potential command growth in front of him due to the ease in which he delivers the ball. His initial call-up did indicate that the game was moving ahead of him, but that type of experience is valuable for driving home to a player where the total package needs to be. The profile is solid and this season should be the first step in Heaney establishing himself as a strong mid-rotational starter. He’s the clear-cut headliner in this system and one of the better left-handed arms percolating through the ranks across baseball.

Major league ETA: Made debut in 2014

2. Tyler Kolek
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/15/1995
Height/Weight: 6’5” 260 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2014 draft, Shepherd HS (Shepherd, TX)
Previous Ranking: NA
2014 Stats: 4.50 ERA (22 IP, 22 H, 18 K, 13 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 8 potential FB; 6+ potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Kolek’s big arm and potential led to him being selected with the second overall pick by Miami, and then the right-hander threw his first professional innings in the Gulf Coast League.

Strengths: Large frame; very well filled out for age; elite arm strength; fastball routinely works in high 90s; capable of hitting triple digits; uses size to create plane with heater; explosive offering; feel for spinning breaking ball; flashes power break; learning how to turnover change; raw ingredients to round into power arm near the front of a rotation; takes to instruction.

Weaknesses: Max-effort type; little present concept of pacing; definition of a thrower; fastball can tick down deeper into games; breaking ball will sweep and lose shape; not overly loose wrist; changeup in infancy stages; command and pitchability have a ways to go; secondary arsenal is all projection.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (7th/8th inning)

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; minimal professional experience; huge gap between present and future.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There is no one in the system with more sheer fantasy upside than Kolek, and he offers the strikeout potential that Heaney can’t. However, the risk is nearly as great, and while he’s a great piece to hold (and likely a top-7 pick in dynasty drafts), he’s still in the flier category.

The Year Ahead: Kolek’s arm strength grades off the charts, and when the right-hander reaches back to deliver his fastball, the end result is the type that generates a buzz from everyone watching. A heater consistently popping in the high 90s and touching triple digits will have that effect. Combined with his size, the overall raw ingredients here have the potential to come together into something special. But, after the aura of the velocity dissipates, the reality is that Kolek is presently at the starting line of what’s going to be a developmental marathon, especially when it comes to the secondary stuff. Both his breaking ball and change have big gaps to close as do the soon-to-be 19-year-old’s pitchability and approach to his craft. There are concerns about how the max-effort approach is going to play and what things are going to look like in the long run. A couple of external sources spoken to for this list wondered if a third pitch (changeup) logistically is going to emerge. There is no question this arm is legit, but there are more questions than answers on what the future looks like. The realistic role reflects the large gap and rawness in the overall game, how quickly that gap can close gets clearer when Kolek takes the mound in a likely full-season assignment to start 2015.

Major league ETA: Late 2018

3. J.T. Realmuto
Position: C
DOB: 03/18/1991
Height/Weight: 6’1” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2010 draft, Carl Albert HS (Midwest City, OK)
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: .190/.227/.190 at major-league level (9 games), .299/.369/.461 at Double-A Jacksonville (97 games)
The Tools: 5+ glove; 5+ arm; 5+ potential hit; 5 potential power

What Happened in 2014: The backstop made some adjustments this season in Double-A, posting an .830 OPS, before a brief call to The Show.

Strengths: Well filled-out frame; good strength; athletic—former middle infielder; solid-average bat speed; feel for getting the barrel on the ball; line-drive stroke; mature approach; willing to go deep into counts and wait for pitch; arm is an asset; can control run game; fluid with footwork when popping out of crouch; moves well behind the dish; has quickly picked up nuances of position; soaks up instruction.

Weaknesses: Approach can be pull heavy; needs more willingness to use opposite field against high-quality arms; must continue to show selectivity; power likely to play down in favor of contact; can be beat on inner-third by velocity; overall catching skills still in refinement stages; struggles getting big with body at times; ball control and blocking suffer as a result.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: 5; average big-leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major leagues; further development of catching skills.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Shallow leaguers with one catcher spot don’t need to concern themselves with Realmuto as his offensive potential at the plate is not projected to be much more than what is available on the waiver wires (think .265 and 12 homers). However, if the bad version of Miguel Montero was valuable in your league, then Realmuto can provide return on your investment.

The Year Ahead: Much to Realmuto’s credit, he’s turned himself into a legit defensive catcher after transitioning over to the position only a few years ago. That speaks to his athleticism as a former middle infielder and also gives a look into the makeup of the player. The key strength behind the dish is the arm, which should be good enough to control opposing teams’ run games. Realmuto could still stand to improve some with his receiving skills, but there’s no reason to believe that forward progress has stopped. When bringing the bat into the equation, this is the profile of a regular. Success at the highest level relies on the contact-heavy swing, with the raw power likely to play down, but enough pop for 10-15 home runs and 25 or so doubles. If his approach improves and he develops the ability to go the other way, the overall body of work could play up to the potential role, but Realmuto most likely settles in as an average major leaguer, and one that can stick around for a while. He may have to bide his time in Triple-A for 2015 depending on how Miami chooses to handle their catching situation, but it won’t be long in the grand scheme of things before a chance to stick comes his way.

Major league ETA: Made debut in 2014

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: #4 (Org)
2014 Stats: 6.00 ERA (15 IP, 22 H, 14 K, 6 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville, 2.79 ERA (129 IP, 138 H, 90 K, 29 BB) at High-A Jupiter
The Tools: 6 FB; 5+ SL; 5 CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2014: Williams handled the Florida State League as expected, fanning three batters for every one walked, and reached Double-A for a quick taste of the upper minors.

Strengths: Uses big frame to advantage; creates leverage to throw downhill; will mix fastball; throws low-90s two-seamer with heavy downward action; can reach back with four-seamer look at 94-95; capable of pounding zone with heater for strikes; changes shape of breaking ball; curveball action at mid-70s; slider look in low 80s; flashes feel for changeup; fades off table at same release angle as fastball; not afraid to work both sides of the plate and come after hitters.

Weaknesses: Not the loosest of deliveries; has some rigidness; tends to work around the plate often with repertoire; fastball will grab a lot of white; lacks true chase pitch; will need to mix and match secondary stuff to induce weak contact against high-caliber hitters; not much growth left for overall stuff.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited upper-minors experience; limited growth potential.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: A much better prospect in deeper leagues than shallower ones, Williams does not project highly enough in the strikeout department to warrant getting too excited about in fantasy. However, with a good division and ballpark in his back pocket, he could max out as a slightly lesser Kyle Lohse.

The Year Ahead: Williams may not be the flashiest of arms or offer top-shelf stuff, but he has a mature arsenal and shows a strong aptitude for his craft. Everything flows off of the right-hander’s 90-95 mph fastball, which he’ll manipulate between a heavy two-seamer in the lower tier of the zone and four-seamer in the upper reaches of his velocity that he looks to elevate past bats. Williams flashes feel for his secondary stuff across the board, but they project more average to solid-average than plus. He’ll need to be mindful of changing speeds and shapes as he continues to advance. The risk here is that the repertoire is stretched too thin in the upper levels when higher quality hitters potentially can wait the righty out deeper into counts or are not apt to chase his breaking stuff. Williams’ mentality and approach do offer some clues that he’s capable of adjusting sequences accordingly. Look for the 22-year-old to get his first big test in Double-A to start the season, and if all goes well, there’s a strong chance he can ride the wave to the majors at some point in 2015.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

5. Jose Urena
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/12/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2008, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #6 (Org)
2014 Stats: 3.33 ERA (162 IP, 155 H, 121 K, 29 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential CH; 5 potential SL

What Happened in 2014: Urena passed the Double-A test, making 25 starts and logging a sound 162 innings.

Strengths: Easy delivery; loose, fast arm; fastball operates 92-95 regularly; can reach back for more when needs it; creates good angle on hitters with heater; shows feel for changeup; throws with similar arm speed to fastball; flashes strong arm-side fade; slider has shown signs of tightening and improvement; capable of throwing for a strike; still filling into body; demonstrates strike-throwing ability.

Weaknesses: Stuff can play down deeper into games; will wear himself out with pace; slider has a tendency to roll; lacks sharp bite off the table; distant third in arsenal; command more of the area variety; needs improvement working through sequences; lacks strong feel of craft.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

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

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 25 starts in Double-A; breaking ball progression.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The right-hander/bad-breaking ball profile is not a good one, unless the change is just dynamic. There’s closer potential if he’s in the bullpen and moderate strikeout potential if the slider can take a step forward. I’d rather roll the dice on a high-upside short-season arm.

The Year Ahead: The clues point towards Urena ultimately ending up in the back of a bullpen, but the right-hander has continued to climb the ranks in a starting role, and is likely ready to take the next step to the highest level of the minors this season. The realistic view sees an arm with a fastball that can play to plus-plus in spurts, with a fading changeup and slider to help change the angle on batters. It’s a profile that leans heavily on two pitches (fastball/change) and a third (slider) sprinkled in to keep hitters honest. That’s usually best suited for one-inning blasts. If you really squint with Urena, and believe the slider and pitchability can progress moderately forward, a potential mid-rotational starter slowly comes into focus. The safe bet is the 23-year-old ends up a late-innings reliever over the long haul. The breaking ball will need to get more bats moving early, but the pitch has a significant gap to close, putting pressure on the precision of the other two pitches against elite hitters when going multiple times through a lineup. Though it wouldn’t be wise to rule out Urena getting a chance to start until he proves otherwise, which could include some major-league action at some point in 2015 if all continues to go well in Triple-A.

Major league ETA: 2015

6. Anthony DeSclafani
Position: RHP
DOB: 04/18/1990
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2011 draft, University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
Previous Ranking: #8 (Org)
2014 Stats: 6.61 ERA (31.1 IP, 39 H, 23 K, 5 BB) at major-league level, 3.49 ERA (59.1 IP, 48 H, 59 K, 21 BB) at Triple-A New Orleans, 4.19 ERA (43 IP, 45 H, 38 K, 10 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2014: DeSclafani handled the upper levels of the minors before getting his first taste of The Show, which proved to be challenging as a starter, but offered some promise coming out of the bullpen.

Strengths: Repeatable delivery; athletic; keeps arm in slot; sits low 90s with fastball, but reaches when needs it; late life to offering; creates hard snap with slider; sharp, late break; flashes feel for changeup; confident using it at any point in count; solid-average to better overall command of arsenal; aggressive mentality.

Weaknesses: At times gets into too much of a challenge mode; falls into ruts of trying to elevate fastball past hitters; needs more focus on pounding lower tier consistently; changeup lacks high-quality action; tends to float; slider will lose shape and get loose in stretches; lacks true bat-missing pitch.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (7th/8th inning)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major leagues; mature stuff

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Unless you’re in a 16-team league or deeper, DeSclafani probably shouldn’t be on your radar. Even if he’s a starter, he’s going to be replacement level at best in mixed leagues.

The Year Ahead: DeSclafani is one of those arms that consistently pitches with a high level of confidence in his stuff. He isn’t afraid to come right after and challenge hitters, avoiding spells of nibbling and trying to be too fine. When the stuff is more solid average than well above average, however, there needs to be some element of finesse to avoid working in spots that usually result in ringing contact around the yard. The right-hander ran into this during his call-up in 2014, especially when working as a starter. DeSclafani’s mentality and fastball-slider combo likely slot him into a relief role over the long run, where his heater can play up a tick in short bursts and his aggressive approach fits with getting two or three concentrated outs before handing the ball over to someone else. There is a chance that the 24-year-old can tone things down a bit and get enough out of the changeup to hang as a starter on a second-division team for the early portion of his career. The righty should be in line to log major-league time in 2015, in all likelihood consistently coming out of Miami’s bullpen at some point in the season.

Major league ETA: Reached majors in 2014

7. Avery Romero
Position: 2B
DOB: 05/11/1993
Height/Weight: 5’8” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft, Pedro Menendez HS (St. Augustine, FL)
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: .320/.370/.400 at High-A Jupiter (26 games), .320/.366/.429 at Low-A Greensboro (92 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 5+ potential power; 6 arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2014: The 21-year-old more than held his own in the South Atlantic League, hitting .320 prior to his promotion to High-A, where he continued to flash similar contact ability.

Strengths: Strong body despite smaller frame; quick bat; loose hands that stay inside of the ball; flashes ability to barrel offerings with backspin; strength to tap into to produce more carry; some leverage in swing; flashes the foundation of an approach; arm for the left side of the diamond; asset at second base; excellent work ethic; strong makeup; possesses feel for the game.

Weaknesses: Hit tool more projection than present; needs work toning down at the plate; must develop better selectivity—likes to get aggressive with fastballs early; may ultimately end up too prone to secondary stuff; will have to find balance in swing when trying to tap into power; fringe-average present defensive reactions; can be stiff and clunky with footwork; bat carries profile.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; average big-leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; no upper-minors experience; pitch selection progression.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Speed will not be an asset from this middle infielder, but Romero has the potential to hit .280 with 12-15 homers down the road. The fantasy upside may not be sexy, but a solid contributor at a weak position can go a long way.

The Year Ahead: Romero is a solid prospect who flashes feel for the barrel and has the potential to develop some juice in the stick as he continues to mature as a hitter. The infielder possesses the type of loose hands that enable him to stay inside of offerings while also being capable of adjusting the head of the bat to the point of contact. He also shows the makings of a gap-to-gap approach, though presently Romero is on the aggressive side early in counts, which draws some concerns of growing pains upon reaching more advanced levels. The defense here isn’t a calling card or carrying tool. Romero has the arm for the left side of the infield, but his reactions can be slow and the instincts are just average. The 21-year-old has been making progress at second base, but there’s still lead time on becoming adequate with the glove. Romero should handle High-A well, with the big test being when he reaches Double-A, which could come around mid-summer. If the forward progress continues to show, he’ll shoot up into the top half of this list in short order.

Major league ETA: Late 2017

8. 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: #7 (Org)
2014 Stats: 2.85 ERA (170.1 IP, 162 H, 81 K, 20 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 5 FB; 5 CB; 6+ CH

What Happened in 2014: Nicolino made some adjustments after his first pass in Double-A, logging an impressive 170 1/3 innings while only issuing 20 free passes on the season.

Strengths: Body to withstand the rigors of the long season; easy, repeatable mechanics; finishes delivery well with fastball to hit spots on both sides of the plate; can reach 90-91 with late tail; delivers changeup with excellent arm speed; very deceptive offering; turns over with loose wrist; shows late drop; understands how to execute craft; plus command profile.

Weaknesses: Fastball is only an average offering; lacks explosiveness; walks a very fine line with spotting offering consistently against highly-advanced bats; must live in lower tier; curve can get loopy and lack good bite; finds a lot of barrels with stuff; works with a limited overall margin of error.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

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

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; over 200 innings at Double-A

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s very little fantasy upside left with Nicolino, who could back his way into a few Jason Vargas-type seasons in that ballpark. Then again, how many of you owned Jason Vargas proudly, even this year?

The Year Ahead: Much to Nicolino’s credit, he made some adjustments after his initial taste of Double-A to find sustained success in 2014. This is one of those arms, though, where the lack of bat-missing ability is likely to catch up at the next level or upon reaching the bigs. There’s a chance the command can play up into the plus-plus range to push the future role, but the clues point more towards the left-hander having good, but not exceptional overall command in the long haul. This is a major-league arm, and one that can carve out a successful career. It’s unlikely that Nicolino will churn easily through unforgiving lineups like he has in the minors, but as a back-end guy at peak or middle reliever for a handful of seasons there’s value here filling out a roster.

Major league ETA: 2015

9. Nick Wittgren
Position: RHP
DOB: 05/29/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 9th round, 2012 draft, Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2014 Stats: 3.55 ERA (66 IP, 73 H, 56 K, 14 BB) at Double-A Jacksonville
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2014: Wittgren took somewhat of a step back in Double-A, finding more barrels with his stuff, but still flashed control and pitchability.

Strengths: Deceptive release; hides ball well; repeatable delivery; good feel for fastball; capable of throwing to both sides of the plate; low-90s velocity plays up because of deception; curveball shows tight rotation and teeth; element of power to pitch; throws change with loose wrist; good separation to fastball; advanced command; aggressive approach.

Weaknesses: Walks a fine line with fastball; lacks big-time velocity; heater can play down; pressure on consistent command; effort in delivery leads to overthrowing; limited growth potential with stuff.

Overall Future Potential: 5; late-innings reliever (setup/second tier closer)

Realistic Role: Low 5; 7th inning reliever

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; upper-minors experience; mature arsenal

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Relief profiles are rarely target-worthy in fantasy because the nature of closers is so role dependent and there are always relievers on the waiver wire. Wittgren is not the exception to the rule.

The Year Ahead: The intrigue here is the ability to pitch, command profile, and deception that allows Wittgren’s solid-average stuff to play up well in relief stints. The low-90s fastball is far from what’s expected when tagging someone as a potential closer, but the right-hander is more than capable of moving his heater around all four quadrants of the zone to set up his secondary stuff. Hitters do somewhat get a late look at Wittgren, which causes his fastball to jump a little bit more as well. There is heavy pressure on this arm to maintain the command in long stretches to achieve his ceiling at the highest level. It did crack a bit at Double-A this past season and the test of the next level this season will be telling. Wittgen realistically profiles as a later-innings option who can bridge key outs, but nobody should rule out that the 23-year-old could hold down a closer role in the right situation. This isn’t a glamorous arm or profile, but one with strong potential to carve out a big-league career in the bullpen while bringing value when constructing a roster.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Michael Mader
Position: LHP
DOB: 02/18/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 3rd round, 2014 draft, Chipola College (Marianna, FL)
Previous Ranking: NA
2014 Stats: 2.00 ERA (45 IP, 31 H, 28 K, 16 BB) at short-season Batavia
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 5+ potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2014: The JUCO signing immediately started showing dividends for Miami, firing 45 innings and posting a 2.00 ERA in the New York-Penn League.

Strengths: Sturdy frame; body to withstand rigors of position; filled out lower half; smooth, fluid delivery; hides ball well; fastball works 90-93, with late tail; capable of reaching for a little more; flashes feel for changeup; shows solid separation to fastball—works in low 80s; can spin slider with depth; projection for overall command growth.

Weaknesses: Slider gets slurvy and loose; will wrap wrist; can telegraph release of offering; change presently lacks quality action; tends to float; needs to get comfortable throwing secondary stuff for strikes more often in sequences; will release fastball early; hinders ability to spot glove side; stuff can wear down deeper into outings.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; 6th inning reliever

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume; development of secondary stuff.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Only an option in deep leagues with huge farm systems, Mader’s combination of a low-ish ceiling and long-ish ETA is not the best use of a roster spot.

The Year Ahead: Mader’s an intriguing arm picked up by the Marlins in this past year’s draft whose main assets are his size and present plus fastball. The left-hander is also on the deceptive side, hiding the ball deeper into his delivery, which gives the heater some late jump on hitters. The secondary stuff is presently on the underdeveloped side, but the soon-to-be 21-year-old does show feel for both his slider and changeup. An assignment in full-season ball this season is going to be a big test for Mader. It’ll be interesting to see how the deception plays against more experienced hitters and what the stuff looks like deeper into the season. Those are two big questions to be answered in the near-term that will go a long way for further establishing the lefty on a starter’s path.

Major league ETA: Late 2017

Prospects on the Rise:

1. LHP Jarlin Garcia: The 21-year-old put together a solid campaign in Low-A, with reports highlighting the left-hander’s projectable arsenal and overall athleticism as key drivers in this package potentially coming together over the long-haul. Garcia definitely needs to add strength to his frame as the player is presently on the lanky side and can experience a dip in the quality of his stuff deeper into games. The lefty is also more control than command at this point, and it’s unclear as to whether his changeup is going to emerge as a viable offering to go along with the low-90s heater and progressing curveball. Those questions keep him outside of this top-10 for now, but with some developmental progress in 2015 tied into strength gains he can shoot up fairly quickly.

2. RHP Domingo German: It’s been a bit of a developmental slow-burn for the international signee from back in 2009, but German is beginning to put things together. The right-hander flashes the potential for a power sinker coupled with a late-breaking slider and changeup with bottom-dropping action. The command does need work, with the gap between the present and where it needs to be on the larger side. If everything breaks right, it’s an arm that could push mid-rotational status, and have a late-inning fall back. An assignment in High-A for 2015 will be a good test for German’s command, with signs of progression forward firmly planting him in this top-10 next season.

3. SS Justin Twine: The second-round pick brings exceptional athleticism, quick hands, and speed to the table. Twine utilizes those explosive hands to generate solid bat speed, with the potential to create a lot of hard contact to all fields. The 19-year-old moves well laterally in the field and flashes the quickness to push towards above-average range at the position. The overall game here is raw as the pitch recognition is in the infancy stages and approach needs a lot of work. There are also some questions as to whether Twine’s arm will play well enough for short over the long-haul. It may be a little early on this prospect given the rough edges, but if they begin to show signs of polishing out of the gate next season, he’s a name that can move in short order

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2015)

1. RHP Matthew Ramsey: On the plus side, Ramsey brings a mid-90s fastball and power curve to the bump that gives the arm a leg up for missing bats in short blasts. It’s stuff that lines up with a potential late-inning type in a major league bullpen. The downside is that Ramsey struggles with the consistency of his control, often creating his own messes and making outings a high-wire act. If the righty can sharpen his control and navigate more crisply through his appearances, he could get a chance to prove he can get key outs in the later innings at some point in 2015.

2. LHP Adam Conley: The former second-round pick was unable to carry a good spring with the big club into the season, struggling early in Triple-A prior to missing time with elbow tendonitis, and then never getting back on track before being shut down in July. There’s promise with the arsenal, highlighted by a low-90s fastball and fading, low-80s changeup that bring into focus the potential as a big-league arm. Given the limitation of the overall arsenal, it looks more likely that Conley is best-suited for the bullpen at the highest level, where his stuff can potentially play up in short bursts. If the prospect can get back on track this year, there’s a strong chance a call will be waiting.

3. LHP Brian Flynn: The big left-hander took somewhat of a step back this past season, primarily driven by inconsistent command, but when Flynn is staying on top of the ball and finishing his delivery, his four-pitch mix shows plenty of crispness. Standing 6-foot-7, there’s a lot of body to control, which puts an emphasis on the 24-year-old being mindful of keeping his mechanics in check. The overall repertoire is more solid average than plus, but the lefty is capable of creating tough angles on hitters and pounding the zone. The profile can play up to a back-end starter in the right situation, with the clear line of sight pointing towards a potential relief option should Miami choose to go in that direction this coming summer.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. Giancarlo Stanton
  2. Jose Fernandez
  3. Christian Yelich
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Nathan Eovaldi
  6. Henderson Alvarez
  7. Andrew Heaney
  8. Tyler Kolek
  9. Jarred Cosart
  10. J.T. Realmuto

The Marlins return most of their prominent assets to this list, with Stanton and Fernandez leading the way. This is a promising core of talent that has a chance to collectively grow and establish a foundation for the franchise moving forward. The assumption is that the Marlins' brass keeps the core together, but the overall picture is surely bright heading into the 2015 season. The Marlins are responsible for the growth and development of seven players on this list, with the remaining names being secured via trade.

Stanton has become one of the cornerstones of the Marlins' franchise, and is arguably the best right fielder in baseball. With over 150+ long-balls in his career by age 24, it is logical to believe the slugger has a bright(er) future. Fernandez was a key cog for the Marlins' rotation, but was unfortunately sidelined due to Tommy John surgery. It remains to be seen how quickly he rejoins their rotation next season, but regardless, he is one of the most talented arms in the league.

The middle portion of this list is occupied by a pair of promising, young outfielders and a trio of starting pitchers that have already begun to craft a formidable rotation. Yelich and Ozuna have secured roles as productive outfielders in the majors, and are starting to tap into the special talents both own. Along with Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna solidify the outfield for the foreseeable future. Each of Eovaldi, Alvarez, and Heaney have logged innings in the majors, with the former two netting close to 200 innings last season. Eovaldi still has issues, but there is no denying the explosive fastball and the potential that still resides in his game. Alvarez has turned into a solid starter who relies on his strong sinking change. Heaney is the least seasoned of the three, but has already reached the majors and should see a role with the major league club next season.

Cosart floundered some before piecing it together after joining Miami via trade from Houston. The command and mechanical issues are real and have been noted many times in the past, but Cosart was a different pitcher since joining the Marlins. Cosart holds plenty of value, even if the end result is more of a back-end starter rather than the mid-rotation flash he displayed at the end of the 2014 season. –Tucker Blair

A Parting Thought: There’s some shine at the front, and intriguing talent a ways off in the lower levels, but overall this system lacks impact names.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
And they have Marlins Guy!
I thought Auston Barnes might sneak on the list. Does his exclusion mean you do not see an average regular ceiling?
Barnes was definitely in the discussion and got some strong reviews from myself and others who had seen him. He probably fit into the Factor on the Farm section, though he may be a year away from that, as he's not likely to reach the big leagues next year, partially due to learning two new positions. We liked the bat, though it's not at an impact level, and aren't sure where he'll end up playing, which is likely why he just missed the cut. Once we have a better idea of what kind of profile he'll end up with, we'll be able to make a more accurate evaluation. Whether or not he ends up being an everyday player will have a lot to do with where he ends up on the field. We should have a better idea of that after next year.
To add some more color to Jeff's response, Barnes was in the mix for a Factor on the Farm slot after we went through the process and he was on the outside of the Top 10, but it didn't really line up at this time for the mentioned reasons and the three included felt more likely to have a chance to contribute this coming season.
The U25 list is pretty impressive, even if the prospects are less so.
Was Isael Soto in consideration for the OTR section at all?

Was the scoop on him?

Eight of the Top 10 are pitchers.
Two out of 3 Prospects on the Rise are pitchers.
Three out of three Factors on the Farm are pitchers.

There's no position prospect better than Mike Mader who is realitically a 6th inning reliever? Are the Marlins doomed to fail based on a lack of position prospects?
Speaking from my personal thoughts/viewings, I pushed hard for Mader. He was my surprise of the NYPL. The risk is high at this time, but we might be singing a different tune in a year or two once he has a full year of professional development and is able to showcase his talent against higher levels of competition. The showing he displayed in his first year of pro ball was very encouraging.
What kind of feedback can you provide on Enrique Hernandez? He bounced around between levels and organizations this year and given that he largely came out of nowhere in terms of his offensive production, it has been difficult to find strong opinions or detailed evaluations of him so far. Thanks.
From a September 15, 2014 article by Mike Gianella:

Hernandez is a utility/bench guy, but he’s on the right team to get lucky and get 450-500 plate appearances in the right situation. The power boost in the minors intrigues me even though I doubt it is sustainable. This type of player needs to run more to capture our interest in NL-only, and even though Hernandez has some speed, I don’t think he’s going to steal enough bases in a backup role to be worth our time.
Obviously that is from a fantasy POV, but it sounds like he is more a bench option than anything else....
Is this the TOP 25U organization in the league? Is 25U talent not more important than a strong farm system? We always here about teams farm systems, but doesn't it make more sense for there to be more of a focus on overall organization youth, including the major league club when talking about organizations? Never understood this.