Moving forward to finish the Top 20 review project, we turn to the Miami Marlins. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season rankings and grades.
1) Jose Fernandez, RHP, Grade A: Borderline A-. Yowza. 2.54 ERA with 138/43 K/BB in 128 major league innings, just 86 hits, jumping from A-ball. He's going to have an outstanding career if he avoids injury.
2) Christian Yelich, OF, Grade A-: Borderline A. Hit .275/.359/.504 in between injuries at three minor league levels. Now in the majors and holding his own thus far, .276/.323/.362 through 14 games. With good health he should blossom next year.
3) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Grade B+: 2.23 ERA with 64/18 K/BB in 97 innings in High-A, but has given up 30 hits in 19 innings over four starts since moving up to Double-A. Still throwing strikes, but whiff rate is down considerably this year even with the pretty ERA in High-A. Stock has taken a mild hit, but still young at 21.
4) Marcell Ozuna, OF, Grade B: .265/.303/.389 with 13 walks, 57 strikeouts in 275 at-bats in the majors. Another guy making big leap from A-ball, has plate discipline issues, just 22. It will be interesting to see how much slack he gets in coming years.
5) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Grade B: Unstoppable in High-A, 0.88 ERA with 66/17 K/BB in 62 innings, 45 hits. Just promoted to Double-A, was brilliant in his first start and got knocked around in his second. Advanced pitchability with good stuff, we should see him in the majors sometime next year if all goes well.
6) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade B-: Hit .294/.358/.502 with 12 homers, 11 steals, 17 walks, 68 strikeouts in 265 at-bats in Double-A. Promoted to majors with Yelich, hitting .204/.250/.286. Great glove, has power and speed, but has he closed the holes in his swing and sharpened his plate discipline enough?
7) Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Grade B-: Hitting .240/.276/.313 with 18 walks, 57 strikeouts in 358 major league at-bats, very good glove, but his bat is really bad thus far and he has no business at the top of the order.
8) Rob Brantly, C, Grade B-: Hit .229/.279/.289 in 201 major league at-bats. I think he will be better than that eventually, but will he improve enough to play regularly? Very open question.
9) Adam Conley, LHP, Grade B-: Very good year in Double-A, 3.04 ERA with 104/31 K/BB in 112 innings, 99 hits for Jacksonville. We should see him in the majors sometime next year. At worst he will be a good reliever but he's done well enough as a starter to merit a look.
10) Derek Dietrich, INF, Grade B-: Hit .214/.275/.405 with nine homers in the majors; sent down to Double-A and is hitting .241/.379/.448 thus far in Double-A. He's got some pop, but the Marlins already have guys who can't get on base.
11) J.T. Realmuto, C, Grade B-: Hitting .234/.301/.346 in 321 at-bats in Double-A. He hasn't hit well since 2011 and his stock is sinking, though defense is very good and will keep him in the picture as a backup.
12) Jose Urena, RHP, Grade C+: Solid campaign at High-A Jupiter, 3.69 ERA with 89/26 K/BB in 124 innings, 124 hits. Live arm and throws strikes, but inconsistent secondary pitches shows up in the mediocre strikeout rate, which could be a problem at higher levels.
13) Mason Hope, RHP, Grade C+: 5.34 ERA with 64/47 K/BB in 86 innings for Low-A Greensboro, 94 hits. I thought he was a lot better than this, but command and secondary pitches have not progressed as expected.
14) Alfredo Silverio, OF, Grade C+: Rule 5 pick from the Dodgers, injured all year, hasn't played since 2011 due to injuries suffered in car accident.
15) Avery Romero, INF, Grade C+: 2012 third round pick is having a terrific summer in the New York-Penn League, hitting .344/.410/.472 through 45 games. Long way off but bat looks promising.
16) Kolby Copeland, OF, Grade C+: Suspended for refusing drug test, hasn't played.
17) Charlie Lowell, LHP, Grade C+: Arrested for attacking his girlfriend. Charges were dropped, but he hasn't played this year.
18) Grant Dayton, LHP, Grade C+: 2.63 ERA with 43/9 K/BB in 27 innings in Double-A, lefties hitting .171 against him. He can throw hard, gets lefties out, and has an outstanding performance record but is seldom mentioned as a prospect for some reason. Seems like a great LOOGY candidate to me.
19) Tom Koehler, RHP, Grade C+: 4.34 ERA with 59/31 K/BB in 87 innings in the majors. 27 year old rookie hasn't been great, but getting 87 innings out of an 18th round draft pick counts as a success.
20) Austin Brice, RHP, Grade C+: Repeating Greensboro and not as successful as last year, 5.48 ERA with 91/69 K/BB in 92 innings. Age 21, has an intriguing fastball/breaking ball combination but must improve his command.
OTHER GRADE C+ PROSPECTS: Austin Barnes, 2B-C; Zack Cox, 3B; Brian Flynn, LHP; Jesus Solorzano, OF.
OTHERS: Michael Brady, RHP; Arquimedes Caminero, RHP; Mark Canha, 1B; Austin Dean, OF; Anthony DeSclafani, RHP; Jake Esch, RHP; Chad James, LHP; Dan Jennings, LHP; Kyle Jensen, OF; Cody Keefer, OF; Brent Keys, OF; Braulio Lara, LHP; Joe Mahoney, 1B; Scott McGough, RHP; Edgar Olmos, LHP; Noah Perio, 2B; Kyle Skipworth, C: Nick Wittgren, RHP.
Last place team, 24.5 games back, with poor performances from several young players dotting the roster. The offense is absolutely dismal and nobody here seems to know how to get on base. We'll see if Yelich and Marisnick can change that.
The (very) bright spot is obvious: an amazingly successful season from rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez, who has been far better than the Marlins had any right to expect, jumping him from A-ball. A.J. Ramos has been effective out of the bullpen. Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez, and Nathan Eovaldi aren't rookies but are young and talented.
New Orleans is a .500 Triple-A team stocked mainly with minor league vets, though 23-year-old lefty Brian Flynn has pitched well (despite a 4-10 record) and has established himself as a very good prospect worthy of a long-term trial next year. Double-A Jacksonville is more of a prospect team than New Orleans, though the best guys there are in the majors now; we should see Conley next year.
Brett Keys has hit .356 at High-A Jupiter but doesn't have much power. Nick Wittgren has picked up 20 saves and has a shot as a middle man. Heaney was terrific before his promotion. Jesus Solorzano has 11 homers, 29 steals, and a .284 average at Greensboro, but (like many Marlins prospects) he doesn't control the strike zone well.
The Marlins really need 2013 draft pick Colin Moran to hit like he did in college. They didn't sign supplemental pick Matt Krook and third round pick Ben DeLuzio, and this is not an organization that can afford to waste draft picks. Offense was the main focus of this draft class, logical given the needs of the system, but they need to show they can develop the bats.