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Miami Marlins Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; World pitcher Jose Fernandez delivers a pitch during the second inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; World pitcher Jose Fernandez delivers a pitch during the second inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Marlins Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Finishing up our reviews of the Top 20 pre-season prospect lists, we complete the National League with the Miami Marlins. Remember, this is a pre-season list. It is not a new list.

This list was originally published December 18, 2011.

My next big project is a revision of the Top 120 list, to include 2012 draftees.

1) Christian Yelich, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .316/.390/.525 with 12 homers, 39 walks, 71 strikeouts, 17 steals in 320 at-bats for High-A Jupiter. Coming along very nicely.

2) Marcell Ozuna, OF, Grade B: .242/.309/.435 with 19 homers, 38 walks, 94 strikeouts in 409 at-bats for Jupiter. Unusually sharp reverse platoon split: .289/.351/.498 against right-handers but .167/.241/.333 against lefties. If he can fix that, look out.

3) Jose Fernandez, RHP, Grade B: 1.59 ERA with 99/18 K/BB in 79 innings in Low-A, 2.57 ERA with 35/11 K/BB in 35 innings in High-A. One of the top pitching prospects in baseball, great combination of stuff and command.

4) J.T. Realmuto, C, Grade B-: Borderline B. Hitting .252/.319/.350 with 33 walks, 50 strikeouts, 12 steals in 369 at-bats for Jupiter. Has thrown out 33% of runners but made 15 errors. Still has the necessary tools, still learning how to use them.

5) Matt Dominguez, 3B, Grade B-: Traded to Astros. .254/.306/.373 with eight homers, 29 walks, 44 strikeouts in 386 Triple-A at-bats between New Orleans and Oklahoma City. Impressive defensive skills but bat appears stagnant.

6) Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Grade B-: Traded to Astros. 4.24 ERA with 100/46 K/BB in 119 innings between High-A and Double-A, 118 hits. I think there is more here and he could do much better next year.

7) Chad James, LHP, Grade B-: 4.80 ERA with 73/36 K/BB in 101 innings for Jupiter, 119 hits. Not making much progress, little to no improvement since last year. Too soon at age 21 to give up.

8) Adam Conley, LHP, Grade B-: 10-5, 3.13 with 120/36 K/BB in 112 innings, 98 hits between Low-A and High-A, 1.75 GO/AO. He's made good progress converting from relief to starting and I think he is an underrated prospect who deserves more attention.

9) Noah Perio, 2B, Grade C+: .237/.287/.303 with 25 walks, 56 strikeouts in 389 at-bats for Jupiter. Defense has improved a great deal, but he can't hit, lacks power, lacks patience. Hope exists with the low strikeout rate.

10) Mason Hope, RHP, Grade C+: 3.99 ERA with 34/19 K/BB in 47 innings for Jamestown in the New York-Penn League, 57 hits, 2.23 GO/AO. Good sinker, good curveball, rather raw but at age 20 he has time.

11) Jose Ceda, RHP, Grade C+: Out all year with bad elbow.

12) Charlie Lowell, LHP, Grade C+: 4.21 ERA with 111/57 K/BB in 105 innings for Greensboro, 85 hits, 1.42 GO/AO. Erratic due to command issues, but when everything is working he has a plus fastball and solid secondary pitches. Note strong K/IP and H/IP marks.

13) Kyle Jensen, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .205/.319/.368 with 14 homers, 59 walks, 140 strikeouts in 361 at-bats for Jacksonville. He has power and will work counts, but scout concerns that his swing wouldn't work consistently against better pitching were accurate. Contact a big problem.

14) Mark Canha, 1B-OF, Grade C+: .295/.383/.411 with 45 walks, 69 strikeouts in 336 at-bats for Jupiter. He has some pure hitting skills but lacks the power normally associated with a corner player, this year anyway; he hit 25 bombs in the Sally League in '11 but the FSL is more difficult.

15) Kevin Mattison, OF, Grade C+: .232/.297/.384 with 10 homers, 35 walks, 120 strikeouts, 21 steals in 409 at-bats in Triple-A. Streaky, has some tools but doesn't use them consistently.

16) Grant Dayton, LHP, Grade C+: 1.83 ERA with 71/18 K/BB in 59 innings, 46 hits for Jupiter. He throws hard and has always performed well, I'm not sure why they have moved him through the system so slowly but he's clearly ready for another challenge.

17) Jose Urena, RHP, Grade C: 3.03 ERA with 87/22 K/BB in 116 innings for Greensboro, 116 hits. Under the radar but has made a lot of progress, touches mid-90s, slider and changeup have improved, only 20 years old. Big breakthrough candidate for next year.

18) Jesus Solorzano, OF, Grade C: .284/.341/.490 with eight homers, 12 walks, 40 strikeouts in 155 at-bats in the New York-Penn League. Just turned 22 so he's behind the ideal age curve, but there's potential here with the power bat.

19) Scott Cousins, OF, Grade C: .292/.355/.472 in 195 at-bats for New Orleans, with 12 steals; .162/.184/.284 in 74 at-bats for the Marlins with 2/21 BB/K. Still profiles as fourth outfielder, but now 27 years old.

20) Chris Hatcher, RHP, Grade C: 0.77 ERA with 45/15 K/BB in 47 innings, 33 hits allowed for New Orleans, 11 saves. Former catcher has made very successful conversion to mound work, should be a useful middle reliever.

The following comments are impressionistic and not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the Marlins farm system.

The big news here this year is the rapid development of Jose Fernandez, who has become one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Christian Yelich looks terrific, Marcell Ozuna and Adam Conley have made progress. After that it thins out quickly.

They do have some sleepers I like, including Charlie Lowell, Jose Urena, and Grant Dayton. Outfielder Brent Keys and catcher Austin Barnes have played well in Low-A. Teammate Josh Hodges is raw but projectable and should also be tracked.

The 2012 draft class brought in Andrew Heaney, the top lefty in college baseball, then three high school picks of promise in Avery Romero (3B), Kolby Copeland (OF), and Austin Dean (2B). Budget-oriented college picks filled out the rest, with LSU defensive specialist shortstop Austin Nola the biggest name, drafted in the fifth round. They came in $74,400 under slot budget but managed to add some upside to the organization.