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Last year's Marlins list

The State of the System: There are good systems, there are poor systems, then there’s 50 pounds of effluence, and then there’s the Marlins.

The Top Ten

  1. RHP Tyler Kolek
  2. 1B Josh Naylor
  3. LHP Jarlin Garcia
  4. RHP Kendry Flores
  5. LHP Brett Lilek
  6. OF Isael Soto
  7. OF Austin Dean
  8. OF Stone Garrett
  9. 3B Brian Anderson
  10. SS Joshua Riddle

1. Tyler Kolek, RHP
DOB: 12/15/1995
Height/Weight: 6’5” 260 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 2nd overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, Shepherd HS (Shepherd, TX); signed for $6 million
Previous Ranking(s): #2 (Org.)
2015 Stats: 4.56 ERA, 108.2 IP, 106 H, 61 BB, 81 K at Low-A Greensboro
Future Tools: 70 Fastball, 55 Slider
Role: 55—Above-average member of a starting rotation

After a pedestrian first professional season, Kolek did not take the step forward so many were expecting in 2015.

It starts with his fastball. Often clocked in triple digits, he can get plane and sink from the extension on delivery. Alas, when he's asked to work on regular rest his heater will dip into the low 90s, and will flatten or stay up in the zone. The same can be said of his slider, an offering that will show hard tilt but is below average when the arm drags. Several scouts did note that the pitch was a considerable improvement on his previous curveball, so that is a positive development. The change is the weakest of the three offerings, as he’s still gaining feel and a noticeable difference in arm speed is common. The control is also not where it should be at this point: Kolek walked four or more hitters in six of his 25 starts, each time failing to make it past the fourth inning.

Kolek made just enough progress in 2015 that optimists can still see a potential front-of-the-rotation starter, but it’s fair to call the Marlins’ 2014 pick a letdown thus far. There’s a long way to go before he’s pitching in Miami.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: For those of you counting at home, that’s two out of two systems now that have a good chance for no entrants in the Dynasty 101. Kolek has upside, in the form of a Nate Eovaldi type, but there are a lot of roadblocks left to clear and fantasy owners aren’t the most patient bunch. If you can still find a trade partner who recognizes his name and where he was taken in the draft, it may be worth exploring.

Major league ETA: 2017

2. Josh Naylor, 1B
DOB: 06/22/1997
Height/Weight: 6’1” 225 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 12th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, St. Joan Arc Catholic SS (Mississauga, ON, Canada); signed for $2.2 million
Previous Ranking(s): #58 on Top 125 MLB Draft Board
2015 Stats: .327/.352/.418, 1 HR in 105 PA at Gulf Coast League
Future Tools: 70 power, 55 hit
Role: 50—Average regular

The highest-drafted Canadian hitter ever, Naylor has tremendous offensive potential, led by impressive raw power that already shows in games. Naylor’s not just a grip-and-ripper guy, however, as he has quick hands and stays through the zone very well for his age, resulting in line drives to every part of the field. Because of his hand-eye coordination, there isn’t as much swing-and-miss as most power guys have, though he will need to see more pitches as he advances.

As mature as he is offensively, he’s likely to be a defensive suck. He’s a 20 runner who isn’t going to get faster, and his good hands won’t keep the lack of motion and fringe-average arm strength from being liabilities. Still, the Marlins will happily take the tradeoff if Naylor reaches his offensive upside, because this is a potential middle-of-the-order bat.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: The most interesting fantasy player in this system (yes, he’s the one on the cusp of the Dynasty 101, not Kolek) is a hitter who will supersede eligibility if the bat develops. It’s a good thing too, as he’s limited to first base, at best. It’s not hard to envision Naylor becoming a .270 hitter with 30-plus homers annually, but it’s going to be a long road ahead.

Major league ETA: 2018

3. Jarlin Garcia, LHP
DOB: 1/18/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 170 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: Signed by Miami August 2010 out of the Dominican Republic for $40,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: 3.57 ERA; 133.2 IP, 134 H, 40 BB, 104 K at High-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville
Future Tools: 65 fastball, 50 curveball, 50 command
Role: High 50—Mid-rotation starter

The slow and steady approach with Garcia has paid off, as he took major steps forward in his second year in full-season ball. There is still some projection left in a fastball that already flashes plus while sitting 90-93 and touching 96. His most consistent off-speed pitch is a curveball, but, because he comes from a low arm-slot, the pitch will sometimes flatten and get slurvy. The changeup has shown the most promise because of his arm speed and the fade on the pitch, yet he’s still developing feel. His control waned upon his promotion to Jacksonville, but he generally throws strikes with all three pitches, and has enough command to start. While Garcia’s upside isn’t massive, he looks like a mid-rotation starter—and feasibly more if the change flashes plus on a more consistent basis. This is the name that received the most differing opinions when finalizing this list, though, and there could be more volatility than the profile suggests.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: His fastball should allow him to meet the minimum threshold in mixed leagues, but unless you’re rostering 150-plus prospects and your league has 14 teams or more, there are better profiles to gamble on. Garcia could peak as a strikeout-focused SP4 you’re always looking to improve upon.

Major league ETA: 2017

4. Kendry Flores, RHP
DOB: 11/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Signed in June 2009 out of Dominican Republic for $125,000 by the San Francisco Giants; acquired from Giants for Casey McGehee
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: 2.29 ERA, 118 IP, 83 H, 29 BB, 85 K at High-A Jupiter, Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans; 4.97 ERA, 12.2 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 9 K at Miami
Future Tools: 55 command, 55 change, 50 fastball
Role: High 45—Back-end starter

Flores won’t ever overpower hitters, but his pitchability ranks second to none in the system. He commands the heck out of an 88-92 fastball—a pitch that will occasionally jump to 94 and show cut and sink—and he’s willing and able to change hitters’ eye levels with it as well. The fastball plays up because of Flores’ change—an above-average offering with fade that he’ll pull the string on for strikeouts, as well as use to get ahead of hitters sitting on the heater. Unfortunately for Flores, neither of his breaking balls is even average, and he should probably scrap the slider for his curveball, which offers more depth and spin. He almost never beats himself with walks, and because he repeats his high-three-quarters arm slot so well, the command projects as above average. He’ll never be more than a no. 4 starter, but his low-risk, medium-reward profile has value.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: A 50-grade fastball and a no. 4 starter perfect world projection combine to make Flores eminently uninteresting in dynasty leagues. Even in NL-only leagues, he’s not a viable candidate for a reserve pick heading into 2016.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2015

5. Brett Lilek, LHP
DOB: 08/10/1993
Height/Weight: 6’4” 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 50th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, Arizona State University; signed for $1 million
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .3.34 ERA, 35 IP, 7 BB, 43 K at short-season Batavia
Future Tools: 55 fastball, 50 slider, 50 change
Role: High 45—Back-end starter

Lilek frustrated scouts at Arizona State–when he was a sophomore many thought he was a first-round lock, while by his junior year one scout I know had him graded as a 30 prospect–but was much more consistent in his admittedly short professional debut. In spite of Lilek’s solid size, his fastball is only average, generally sitting 90-92 with some late run. Both his change and slider will flash above average, but he struggled while at ASU to locate either pitch for strikes. That wasn’t an issue this summer, with the slider in particular showing promise thanks to its hard tilt. Because he isn’t overpowering, the change will have to show more reliability, as will the command. Still, as a left-hander who might have three above-average pitches when all is said and done, Lilek has a chance to pitch in a rotation—even if there are real concerns due to his lack of consistency and overpowering stuff.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: If there was anything to see here, this is where you’d be told.

Major league ETA: 2018

6. Isael Soto, OF
DOB: 11/02/1996
Height/Weight: 6’0” 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: Signed by Miami July 2013 out of Dominican Republic for $310,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .171/.231/.243, 1 HR, 0 SB at Gulf Coast, short-season Batavia and Low-A Greensboro
Future Tools: 60 power, 60 arm
Role: 45—Below-average regular/bench bat

Soto suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in May (an injury that shouldn’t be debilitating but did cost him half a year of seasoning), and though the numbers in the short time he was healthy were ugly, there was enough to suggest he’s the best-hitting outfield prospect in this system. He generates huge bat speed and pairs it with natural loft to hits rockets out during BP. While the swing isn’t long, he often doesn’t maintain control of it, and anything that is soft or spinning gives him loads of trouble—particularly against southpaws.

Soto is also raw with the glove, mixing simple errors with flashes of brilliance. The arm strength is plus with good carry, and he possesses enough speed to handle right field. He’s light years away from contributing (and his lack of playing time in 2015 won’t help), but Soto is one of very few players in this system with middle-of-the-order potential.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: Well, well, this isn’t another likely fifth starter. Soto carries plenty of risk, but a potential 25-homer bat is a potential 25-homer bat. However, if your league rosters fewer than 250 prospects, he’s not worth rostering yet, just merely keeping an eye on.

Major league ETA: 2018

7. Austin Dean, OF
DOB: 10/14/1993
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Klein HS (Spring, TX); signed for $367,200
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .268/.318/.366, 5 HR, 18 SB at High-A Jupiter
Future Tools: 50+ Power (Raw), 50+ speed
Role: 45—Below-average corner outfield regular/bench bat

Like Soto, Dean is more project than product (albeit without the same type of upside or time on his side). His swing is straight-forward and geared toward line drives, but with enough rotation and weight transfer to project above-average power. The homers haven’t shown up in games yet, but the doubles have, and as he fills out his frame those should start to translate, assuming he adds the needed loft to tap into said power. He’ll draw his share of walks without much swing-and-miss, and he’s even a threat to steal bases—though thus far he’s been just as much a threat to get thrown out. Alas, he lacks the speed to play center or the arm to play right, placing additional pressure on his pop’s development.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: As an outfielder who could be a 15/15 hitter in time, you’d want to see a better hit tool, but in deeper leagues Dean makes sense as a long-term OF4 gamble.

Major league ETA: 2017

8. Stone Garrett, OF
DOB: 11/22/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, George Ranch HS (Richmond, TX); signed for $162,400
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .297/.352/.581, 11 HR, 8 SB at short-season Batavia
Future Tools: 55 power, 55 speed
Role: 45—Below-average regular/bench bat

Garrett’s stock has fluctuated ever since he was a junior in Texas, going from potential top-15 pick to an actual eighth-round selection to, now, a player some believe is the best hitting prospect in his system. We’re not quite there yet, but 2015 was certainly a positive development. He’s one of the strongest players in the organization, and his natural strength and plus bat-speed allow him to generate backspin and take the ball out to any part of the park. The swing’s length leads to swing-and-miss, but his approach has improved, leading him to see more pitches and draw more walks. His above-average speed is a potential weapon on the bases as well, but the jumps must improve. The same can be said on defense: Garrett has all the tools necessary to be a quality defender in center, yet his poor reads and routes make it more likely he ends up in right.

A strong showing in his first full season will see him shoot up this list. Right now, there are too many questions to believe he’s a future regular.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: It’s like Austin Dean, but with slightly more upside. Garrett has the flashy numbers in the NYPL and those numbers could be used to extract some additional value out of him, but he isn’t someone you should be rushing to sell. I’d gamble on Garrett in leagues that roster 250 players.

Major league ETA: 2017

9. Brian Anderson, 3B
DOB: 05/19/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3” 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 76th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, University of Arkansas, signed for $600,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .235/.304/.340, 8 HR, 2 SB at High-A Jupiter
Future Tools: 60 arm, 55 glove
Role: 40—Utility infielder

Another flawed player who, on the right day, might convince you he’s the Marlins’ best hitting prospect, he’ll show plus raw power in BP, and his ability to generate leverage and extension allows him to put balls into gaps. On the wrong day—and there are more wrong days than right—you’ll see an impatient player with a long swing who struggles with anything soft and below the knees. The good news is that Anderson is a quality defender at the hot corner who combines good footwork, solid hands, and an arm that allows him to turn hits into outs. He’s also shown that he can handle corner outfield and, in a pinch, second base, thereby promising him a future as a competent, if frustrating, utility player.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: Nothing to see here. Move along.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. J.T. Riddle, SS
DOB: 10/12/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the 13th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, University of Kentucky; signed for $100,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .283/.323/.368, 5 HR, 7 SB at High-A Jupiter, Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans
Future Tools: 60 arm, 55 glove
Role: 40—Utility player

Riddle was among the best defensive shortstops in the Arizona Fall League, showing off an arm that has impressive velocity and accuracy. He’s only an average runner, but his instincts are outstanding, with one scout comparing him defensively to Troy Tulowitzki—not particularly fast, but with the strong arm and instincts to make plays. Offensively, Riddle is nowhere close to that level—there’s a reason he’s the 10th-best prospect in perhaps the NL's worst system, of course. His swing has many moving parts that don’t generate power, and he’s routinely beaten by better velocity. Riddle’s defense is good enough that some team might start him, but he profiles best as a player off the bench who can chip in from anywhere on the infield.

Bret Sayre's Fantasy Take: As awesome as it would be to have him as your starting shortstop and call your fantasy team the Riddler, it’s unlikely that he will ever have much value outside of NL-only leagues.

Major league ETA: 2016

Five who are just interesting:

Nick Wittgren, RHP – You could argue that Wittgren has the highest floor of any prospect in the system, as he got plenty of consideration for the top 10 while being a reliever without the stuff to close. The fastball is plus, not so much because of its low-90s velocity but because it sinks and he commands it to all four quadrants. He’ll mix in a solid-average curveball, a pitch that plays up because he’s able to throw it for strikes or bury it out of the zone when ahead. He’s also shown he can get both left- and right-handed hitters out, giving him the ability to be a future setup man—maybe more if the elite control carries up to the big leagues.

Tomas Telis, C – Miami acquired Telis from Texas for Sam Dyson, and multiple sources I spoke with believe that he—and not J.T. Realmuto—is the Marlins’ catcher of the future. He shows a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate with excellent bat-to-ball skills, though the swing path gives him essentially no power, particularly from the right side. He’s a competent backstop with an above-average arm, but his lack of athleticism leads to slow release times. Telis profiles best as a backup, but a team desperate for catching could turn to him as an everyday guy.

Colby Suggs, RHP – When Suggs has been healthy he has shown closer stuff, led by a borderline plus-plus fastball with life and an above-average curveball that has quality depth and spin. When is the key operative word, though, as Suggs has thrown just 91 innings over his four pro seasons. In addition to being limited to five appearances this summer, numerous sources told me that he didn’t look healthy over most of the 2014 campaign, which could help explain his struggles (5.43 ERA in just over 58 innings pitched). It’s too early to give up on someone of his talent, but 2016 will be an important season for Suggs, since at the moment he’s closer to non-prospect than he is to Miami.

Avery Romero, 2B – In a season in which plenty of things went wrong for Marlins prospects, Romero was the most disappointing. At one point he showed an above-average hit tool, but the approach has regressed, and the lack of bat speed appears to have caught up to him. He’s also a below-average runner who likely will have to move to third base, where the lack of power doesn’t play. There are still fans of Romero around the industry, but there’s nothing that suggests that he will become a regular—or even a 25-man roster member—at this point.

Anfernee Seymour, SS – If you were just adding the tools together, Seymour would easily make the list, given he’s an 80 runner who possesses a 60 arm. Those are the only above-average tools at his disposal, however, as he has a clunky swing from both sides of the plate and the frame of a 20 power hitter. His raw tools make him an excellent candidate for center field, but the Marlins are wisely seeing what they have in him as a shortstop, and so far the results have been mixed. If he can see more walks, he’s a potential leadoff hitter who could be a plus defender in center. At present, it looks like he’s more of a weapon off the bench who can steal a bag or two.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/90 or later)

  1. Jose Fernandez
  2. Christian Yelich
  3. Marcell Ozuna​
  4. Tyler Kolek
  5. Henderson Alvarez
  6. Jarred Cosart
  7. J.T. Realmuto
  8. Carter Capps
  9. Josh Naylor
  10. Jarlin Garcia

Three members of last year’s list are no longer eligible this year. Giancarlo Stanton (No. 1 in 2014) will play his age-26 season for Miami in 2016, and while he of course remains notable in his own right, he no longer qualified for discussion here. Nathan Eovaldi (No. 5) and Andrew Heaney (No. 7), meanwhile, are no longer in the organization.

That leaves this list top-heavy—Fernandez and Yelich are already stars, and should continue to be so for the foreseeable future, provided the former’s elbow stays in one piece—with a significant dropoff between Yelich and Ozuna, and another big gap after Kolek, and again after Capps. Ozuna had a disappointing season in 2015, but none of his peripherals were all that different from his solid 2014 campaign, and I suspect he’ll bounce back to normal levels of production (think 2.5-3 WARP) in 2016.

Kolek, as is noted above, also had a disappointing 2015, and he barely edges out Alvarez for the fourth spot on this list. In terms of potential future value, Kolek has the edge: he has raw potential for days, and Alvarez—like Cosart one spot below him—had a rough 2015 that took some of the shine off of a promising career. But Kolek will have to start putting up results, and soon, if he wants to stay high on these lists in the future.

Realmuto, for his part, has never had a profile that scouts particularly love. But maybe that doesn’t matter any more: Realmuto put up a perfectly adequate line in 2015—perhaps a little light on the OBP, but with strong bat-to-ball ability and flashes of solid power. And while “perfectly adequate” is probably his ceiling, it’s showed up in enough big-league action to put him in the "middle eight" young players in a very weak Marlins’ system.

The bottom of the list is filled with two pitchers—Capps, he of the probably illegal delivery, leads the way—and one so-so prospect in Naylor, who can really hit. Capps’ numbers in 2015 might deserve a higher ranking (above Realmuto, and below Cosart), but relievers so rarely sustain elite success year-to-year in the majors. That’s even more true for relievers with deceptive deliveries. Check back in in a year; if Capps is still dominating, maybe he’s worth another look. Garcia might be a fine back-end big-league starter, or he might not be. Meh. Color me (relatively) unimpressed. — Rian Watt

The Executives

President, Baseball Operations: Michael Hill
Vice President, Scouting: Stan Meek
Vice President, Player Development: Marc DelPlano
Vice President, Pitching: Jim Benedict

The addition of Benedict from Pittsburgh was a big one: He’s one of the most respected developers of pitching in baseball, and he’ll have his hands on every pitcher in the system. With all due respect to their previous player-development regime, Benedict could be just what Kolek needs to become the dominant pitcher the Marlins thought they were getting in June 2014.

Meek has a strong scouting eye, but Miami’s drafts are often troubled due to the financial limits set by the organization, with several picks (I’m looking at you, Blake Anderson) being made for cash reasons rather than baseball ones. They also haven’t been big spenders in the international market, outside of a brief spike from 2013-14; Garcia and Soto were the only IFAs signed by the organization who drew any consideration for this top 10, with the next highest-ranking foreign-born player (Miguel Del Pozo) likely nothing more than a LOOGY reliever. The talent is there for this to be a quality player-development group, but the limitations make it almost impossible.